Diabetes Research WA head says support is high but so are frustrations over slow progress


Diabetes Research WA Executive Director Sherl Westlund.
Diabetes Research WA Executive Director Sherl Westlund.

THE head of WA’s peak diabetes funding group is calling on the community to forgo frustration and focus on what they can do to help beat the condition for national diabetes week.

Mundaring resident Sherl Westlund is the executive director of Diabetes Research WA.

She said the group was receiving an unprecedented level of support, but community disappointment over progress in medical research needed to be addressed.

“Breakthroughs can be few and far between and waiting for them can be frustrating,” she said.

“We know the community feels this and we share the frustration because we too would love for these breakthroughs to be reached faster.

“Medical research fatigue is very real but if we’re to reach our dream of a diabetes cure we need to help people move beyond that and stay committed by helping them understand the reasons for the delays.”

She said in 1897 the average life expectancy for a 10-year-old child diagnosed with type 1 diabetes was one year, but now thanks to medical research people are able to live to old age.

Ms Westlund said there were many hurdles to jump before scientists could reach those ‘eureka’ moments and medical research was time-consuming and costly.

“Once a project is funded, there are ethics approvals to secure and submissions to write, and the speed at which this can happen often comes down to how many support staff researchers can afford to have on board, as well as how quickly submissions can be reviewed,” she said.

She said often volunteers were needed to participate in research for many years to discover what happens with a condition like diabetes over a lifetime.

Ms Westlund said the community had a vital part to play in helping reach breakthroughs faster.

“It’s the little things that go a long way; donate that spare $5 to research, sign up to volunteer for medical research studies – and ensure you complete the study – spread the message about our work, attend one of our events, hold your own fundraiser; the possibilities are endless!” she said.

Diabetes Research WA has distributed more than $5.65 million dollars into WA diabetes research projects and will underscore the latest developments at an evening public seminar on Thursday, July 13 in Wembley.

For details, visit diabetesresearchwa.com.au.

MORE: NBN announces construction to begin in dozens of Perth suburbs before end of 2017

MORE: WA’s first 9-star energy rated apartment complex to be built

MORE: Mandurah Foreshore Winter Wonderland hopes to kick start up turn in business fortunes