Nov 13, 2020

Drucker Family Innovation Fund to Support Research on Diabetes and Metabolism

Students, Research, Education, Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Giving, Partnerships, Inclusion & Diversity
Professor Daniel Drucker. Photo by Bernardo Yusto

Professor Daniel Drucker. Photo by Bernardo Yusto
The newly established Drucker Family Innovation Fund will provide a $2 million commitment to the University of Toronto's Temerty Faculty of Medicine and University Health Network to support biomedical research on diabetes and metabolism in Toronto.

Researchers at U of T's Banting & Best Diabetes Centre and Department of Medicine, and at University Health Network and Mount Sinai Hospital will benefit from the fund.

The Drucker Family Innovation Fund was created by Professor Daniel Drucker and his family in recognition of the institutes where he has done much of his world-leading research. Drucker holds more than 30 U.S. patents and 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 U of T 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, a professor in the Department of Medicine and in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology. “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 U of T in 1921. The first clinical use of insulin was at the Toronto General Hospital, now part of University Health Network, 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 Professor Gary Lewis, director of the Banting & Best Diabetes Centre. “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,” says 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 Professor Bradly Wouters, executive vice-president, science and research at University Health Network.

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