My parents were terrified. Their formerly healthy 3-year-old son was wasting away due to uncontrolled blood sugar. I was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes June 1996 in Olympia at St. Peters Hospital. The doctors around us were optimistic, saying “Don’t worry, they’ll have a cure in 10 years”. But two decades later, we still don’t have a cure.
Now, as a scientist at the University of California San Francisco, I work on finding new treatments for diabetes. I’ve learned that diabetes is a complicated disease, and that we need to continue our research efforts to make a cure a reality. The research we do is funded by the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, a federal agency that supports the majority of biomedical research in the United States.
While there still isn’t a cure, the way we treat diabetes has been revolutionized. To test my blood sugar in 1996, I would have to prick my finger, squeeze out a drop of blood the size of a ladybug, carefully apply it to glucose test strip and wait. In 2018, a patch on my side continuously sends my blood sugar to an app on my phone, giving me an unprecedented control over my disease. This technology was made possible by federal support for scientific research.
When you are voting this November, remember that scientific research has a tangible impact on the members of your community, and that the people around you might owe their lives to it one day.