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Health Minister joins Rhondda families to see pioneering diabetes research in action

Leading researchers at Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales have teamed up with Diabetes UK Cymru for the first time to show people affected by Type 1 diabetes cutting edge diabetes research in Wales. This included members of the charity’s local diabetes support group for children and families affected by Type 1 diabetes, Rhondda Kids, who were joined at the interactive event by Health Minister Mark Drakeford and Jenny Rathbone AM who chairs the Cross Party Group on diabetes at the National Assembly.

Attendees were then given a chance to take a tour of the research facilities at the site, looking through high powered microscopes to see the way that cells behave in a person with Type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes researchers spoke about their current work, the latest advancements in diabetes research and how people living with Type 1 diabetes in Wales can get involved in their work. Dr James Pearson organised the event with Diabetes UK Cymru and researcher Prof Susan Wong. He will shortly be continuing his diabetes research next year at Yale University in the USA, after winning a prestigious Fullbright Scholarship.

Dr Pearson said: “Since starting my research at Cardiff three years ago I have always been passionate about making sure that people who are living with diabetes are involved in what we do. After all, it is the fundraisers and volunteers who make all this work possible. It was brilliant to have the chance to explain some of the exciting advancements to the people who live with this condition every single day.”

There are around 18,000 people living with Type 1 diabetes in Wales which means that they have to manage their blood glucose levels through taking daily insulin doses. No one knows what causes the condition, but it’s not to do with being overweight and it isn’t preventable. Currently Diabetes UK fund projects in Cardiff that study the ways in which Type 1 diabetes first develops and changes over time so that improvements can be made in the way that diabetes is understood and managed.

Mel Stephenson from Cardiff, 26, has had diabetes for over a decade after being diagnosed at 13 years old. She said: “It has been amazing to be so close to this fantastic research and it has made me really proud to know that this is going on right here in Wales. It is a great chance to see where money we raise for Diabetes UK Cymru is spent and how it is making a difference right now and in the future.”

To find out more about diabetes research in Wales or to join the Diabetes UK Rhondda Kids group email, call 029 2066 8276 or visit