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Dr Pia Leete

University of Exeter researcher wins prestigious diabetes fellowship

A University of Exeter researcher has been awarded the prestigious Diabetes UK RD Lawrence Fellowship.

Dr Pia Leete was granted the competitive career development fellowship which comes with £525,000 in funding over the next five years. This fellowship, established in 1976 by Diabetes UK, supports the career development of outstanding postdoctoral researchers, enabling them establish independence in diabetes research.

Pia said: “I am both overwhelmingly humbled, and completely thrilled to receive the RD Lawrence Fellowship from Diabetes UK. I will be using this incredible opportunity to build a small multidisciplinary team dedicated to understanding how the pancreatic pathology varies between people living with type 1 diabetes, with the specific aim of ultimately informing routes to more personalised care.”

Pia’s investigation into morphological changes of the pancreas in Type 1 Diabetes started during her PhD and the fellowship will enable further exploration and expansion on this research. Her research has shown that there at least two distinct forms of Type 1 Diabetes, namely Type 1 Diabetes Endotype 1 and 2, which each affect the pancreas differently.

Pia continued: “It is increasingly clear that Type 1 Diabetes doesn’t progress along the same trajectory in all people. We currently know that the age a person is diagnosed can profoundly impact the severity of the disease and the later development of complications, but understanding what drives these differences, and how to treat them, will have a profound impact on personalised patient care.

“Therefore, over the next five years, my team and I will be dedicated to further revolutionising our understanding of the pancreatic pathology in Type 1 Diabetes. I am deeply grateful for the faith and support of my all colleagues here at the University of Exeter and I’m excited to continue on this journey in collaboration with Diabetes UK as we strive to improve outcomes for all people living with type 1 diabetes.”

Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: “Diabetes UK is committed to investing in exceptional scientists and supporting them on their journey to be world leaders of diabetes research, so we are delighted to award Dr Leete Diabetes UK’s RD Lawrence Fellowship.

“We are proud to support Dr Leete’s pioneering research, which will give us the most detailed picture to date of what happens in the pancreas as type 1 diabetes develops, and how this can differ from person to person. These discoveries could help scientists to develop new, tailored treatments that take us closer to stopping or preventing type 1 diabetes.”

Date: 7 September 2022