Diabetes Research Fund Hopes Millions for Illinois Research Lowers Medical Costs Overall

ILLINOIS (IRN) — November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and there’s big money from a research fund pouring into Illinois to work toward a cure, and to help drive down the medical costs of diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association says 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year, with a total of 30.3 million.

The Illinois Department of Public Health says about 1.3 million Illinoisans, about 12.5 percent of the population, have diabetes. More than 340,000 people are unaware they have the disease.

JDRF Chief Mission Officer Aaron Kowalski said the research fund is putting $5 million into research in Illinois, helping to boost federal funds.

“It’s driven another $30 million into Illinois research, so at the leading institutions – whether it’s Northwestern, University of Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, IIT, University of Illinois, you name it – we are funding research in all of those different areas and making fantastic progress,” Kowalski said.

Diabetes remains the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and is responsible for $327 billion in 2017, including $237 billion for direct medical costs, according to the ADA. It also leads to $90 billion in reduced productivity nationwide.

Kowalski said the research will help to push those medical costs down.

“The cost of diabetes is staggering if you look at the Medicare budget for example,” Kowalski said. “A third of the Medicare budget goes to treating diabetes and its complications. We need to do better.”

Kowalski said the funding doesn’t just help work toward lowering the high medical costs of diabetes, it will also provide an economic boost for the state.