The Sanford Project

Finding a Cure for Type 1 Diabetes

The Sanford Project is an emerging translational research center focused on targeted diabetes research, cures and care.

Worldwide, about 70,000 children ages 14 years and younger are developing type 1 diabetes per year. Type 1 diabetes, also termed juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes, is an autoimmune disease and metabolic disorder. It’s characterized by an immune-mediated destruction of insulin-secreting beta-cells of the pancreas, resulting in insulin deficiency and hyperglycemia.

Signs of type 1 diabetes

The primary clinical signs of type 1 diabetes are ketoacidosis – which can lead to coma and death – and chronic hyperglycemia. Chronic hyperglycemia is the primary cause of several macrovascular and microvascular diabetic complications.

Treatment for type 1 diabetes

Insulin-replacement therapy is the life-saving first-line treatment for people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Insulin-replacement therapy is, however, not a cure and cannot prevent the disease from progressing and causing long-term complications. Thus, identifying disease-modifying therapies and cures remains a major unmet medical need and the focus of The Sanford Project.

How we work on curing type 1 diabetes

The Sanford Project team:

  • Uses translational research approaches that are built on recent advancements in regenerative and personalized medicine
  • Designs and conducts pre-clinical and clinical proof-of-concept studies that are aimed at stimulating endogenous repair mechanisms resulting in the regeneration of insulin-producing beta-cells
  • Investigates and assesses the potential beneficial effects of FDA-approved drugs, clinical candidate molecules and other approaches in delaying new onset, stopping progression, or reversing type 1 diabetes in subjects with newly diagnosed or established disease

If we are successful, we will find safe and clinically relevant solutions and cures for patients diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Partners in this project are The Sanford Project team, Sanford Research and Sanford Health. Complementing the partnership’s activities are the national and international network of Sanford Children's Clinics and the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute with operations in La Jolla, California, and Orlando, Florida.

The Sanford Project is one of the four Sanford Health initiatives made possible through Denny Sanford’s $400 million gift. Those initiatives include programming designed to improve the health and well-being of children across the world, including Sanford World Clinic, Sanford fit, the Sanford Castles of Care, and advancement of Sanford Health research centers. A subsequent gift of $10 million was made to The Sanford Project by the Todd & Linda Broin family.

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Meet the Team

Kurt Griffin, MD, PhD
Director of Clinical Trials and Scientist
The Sanford Project

Alexei Savinov, MD, PhD
Associate Scientist
The Sanford Project


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