The Alberta Diabetes Institute recognizes that the true measure of success of any innovation is whether it ultimately made a difference in the quality of life of diabetes patients. The path between scientific discovery and practical application is a complex and lengthy journey, and the Institute was built as a means to overcome the challenges of translational research. 

Investigators at the Institute lead the world in exploring novel ways to prevent and treat all forms of diabetes by understanding the basic molecular and cellular mechanisms of disease. 

New ways to improve islet transplantation are being tested, and nutritional and physical activity research is uncovering new correlations between glycemic control and diet/exercise. Promising new discoveries at the ADI feed the translational pipeline that brings new technologies and health information forward towards practical application. This requires coordination with knowledge transfer experts like TEC Edmonton for intellectual property management and the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Drug Research and Development for preclinical research. 

In-house regulatory expertise also helps ADI scientists coordinate their preclinical regulatory safety testing, and the Institute’s own Clinical Research Unit offers scientists an arm’s length facility for placing clinical research studies that lead to the approval of new products, devices or health policies. The opening of the Alberta Cell Therapy Manufacturing facility at the Institute represents another step in the translational picture, offering the production of clinical grade cell-based products for use in clinical trials. 

The University and Province of Alberta have made enormous investment in translational research support, including TEC Edmonton itself and the recently established Translational Science Institutes that will help integrate scientific research on campus with knowledge mobilization. Clinical research support is bolstered by the recent federal implementation of the SPOR (Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research) SUPPORT (Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials) Unit in Alberta - the first one implemented in Canada. The Unit will help provide necessary enabling infrastructure to assist researchers who conduct patient oriented research with access to data platforms and services, tools, methods, training, and connections. 

Alberta Diabetes Institute scientists also lead community outreach programs such as “Why Act Now?”, a risk screening program and intervention strategy for Aboriginal youth. Another is BRAID (“Believing we can Reduce Aboriginal Incidence of Diabetes”), a research initiative with Metis and First Nation communities throughout Alberta that focuses on clinical screening and longitudinal studies aimed at preventing diabetes. 

How do we know our translational research is having meaningful impact on quality of life? 

The Alberta Diabetes Institute is partnered with the Alliance for Canadian Health Outcomes Research in Diabetes, a globally-recognized leader for measuring the impacts that new treatments, devices or interventions have on quality of life and the return on investment. Health outcomes research is the final step in the translational pathway, and provides important feedback to our basic scientists - essentially closing the loop for knowledge transfer.