Drucker Family Innovation Fund created to advance breakthroughs in diabetes

Dr. Daniel Drucker

The Banting & Best Diabetes Centre (BBDC) and the Department of Medicine at University Health Network (UHN) and Mount Sinai Hospitals are thrilled to be beneficiaries of the newly-established Drucker Family Innovation Fund. This fund provides a $2 million commitment to the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and University Health Network to support research scientists in Toronto, and fund new biomedical research on diabetes and metabolism.  

The Drucker Family Innovation Fund was created by Dr. Daniel J. Drucker and his family in recognition of the institutes where he has done much of his world-leading research. Drucker, who now holds more than 30 U.S. patents, is widely-recognized for his ground breaking role in the development of new classes of medications, the GLP-1 and GLP-2 agonists, as well as DPP4 inhibitors.  

Drucker’s gift was matched by both the University of Toronto and University Health Network, bringing the fund’s total value to $6 million. 

“Throughout my career, I’ve licensed my intellectual property to a number of pharmaceutical companies who have then provided revenue back to me, as well as back to U of T and the hospital,” says Drucker. “I found myself thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if each of us directed a portion of these revenues so that other scientists working on innovative discovery projects could benefit?’”  

The organizations who will receive this support are pleased to be able to provide new funding for research in the spirit of the discovery of insulin, which took place in a laboratory at the University of Toronto in 1921. The first clinical use of insulin was at Toronto General Hospital (now part of UHN), further cementing Toronto’s place in medical history. 

“We are so pleased that Dr. Drucker has decided to give back to the diabetes research community in Toronto is such a generous way,” says Dr. Gary Lewis, Director of the BBDC. “Dr. Drucker’s research has changed the landscape of diabetes treatment globally. His commitment to supporting the ongoing work in this field is a testament to his belief in the power of discovery-level science. As we move toward the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin in Toronto, this gift provides much-needed support in our quest for the next big breakthrough.” 

The University of Toronto’s division of endocrinology and metabolism was recently ranked fifth in the world for its biomedical bench strength, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Global Universities Rankings 2020-21,” explains Dr. Gillian Hawker, Sir John and Lady Eaton Professor and Chair of U of T’s Department of Medicine. “Our clinician-scientists and early-career researchers are uniquely positioned at the interface between clinical care and research; this generous gift will allow them to continue to translate knowledge into medical advances that will impact the lives of those people living with diabetes.” 

UHN is proud of its more than 100 year commitment to the understanding and improved treatment of diabetes. 100 years ago, the discovery of insulin was first used in patients to provide life-saving treatment to people with diabetes and UHN continues its strong support of fundamental, translational, and clinical research through the BBDC. We are thrilled to expand this support through this new joint initiative,” says Dr. Bradly G. Wouters, Executive Vice-President, Science and Research at UHN. 

The first funding awards provided by the Drucker Family Innovation Fund will be announced by the BBDC in 2021.

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