Portraits of Diabetes

The Alberta Diabetes Institute marked its 10th anniversary by unveiling a series of portraits of people living with diabetes.

The poignant black-and-white Portraits of Diabetes by U of A photographer Richard Siemens now line the halls of the Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Research Innovation.

By putting diverse faces to the disease, Portraits of Diabetes offers a glimpse into the highs and the lows of life with diabetes. With one million Albertans living with diabetes or prediabetes, the images speak to the importance of ongoing support for diabetes research.

The photography project was made possible through collaboration and support from Alberta Diabetes Foundation, Alberta Diabetes Institute and the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.

See the award-winning photos at uab.ca/POD.

Richard Siemens
Type 1 diabetes, diagnosed 1959
Pancreas and kidney transplant recipient
Portraits of Diabetes photographer winning Gold 2018 Circle of Excellence award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education

James Shapiro
Director, U of A's Clinical Islet Transplant Program
Canada Research Chair in Transplantation Surgery and Regenerative Medicine
Diabetes Canada's Lifetime Achievement Award recipient
Leader of the original Edmonton Protocol team. Now investigating the use of stem cells instead of islet cells during the transplantation procedure.

Decade of diabetes research progress traces back a century

"There's always been a rich history of diabetes research in Edmonton at the University of Alberta, dating all the way back to the early 1920s and the work of James Collip, a local biochemist who purified insulin," said Peter Light, director of the Alberta Diabetes Institute.

The city's name was officially put on the world's diabetes research map in 2000, with the development of the Edmonton Protocol, an internationally recognized procedure that implants insulin-producing islet cells into the liver of a person with type 1 diabetes, often allowing for insulin independence.

Ray Rajotte, founding director of the Alberta Diabetes Institute and professor emeritus of surgery and medicine, laid the crucial groundwork for the Edmonton Protocol, now the gold standard for islet transplantation.

Today, under one roof, more than 65 principal investigators from diverse fields study the complexity of diabetes. While their research projects are diverse, all Alberta Diabetes Institute members share the same goal: to improve the lives of people with diabetes and to find a cure.

Arun Patel
Type 2 diabetes, diagnosed 1991

Patrick MacDonald
Director, Alberta Diabetes Institute's IsletCore
Diabetes Canada's Young Scientist Award recipient
Unravelling the cellular biology that underpins the function of pancreatic islets
Rose Yeung
Assistant professor, Endocrinology and Metabolism
Integrating diabetes care delivery with patient empowerment and education

Kailan Siegel
Type 1 diabetes, diagnosed 2006
Peter Senior
Medical director, Clinical Islet Transplant Program
Pursuing novel therapies for preventing kidney-function loss in diabetes patients

Bob Teskey
Type 1 diabetes, diagnosed 1961
One of seven patients in the original Edmonton Protocol clinical trial
Jessica Yue
Assistant professor, Physiology
Investigating how the brain regulates fat and sugar metabolism

Kira Heck
Type 2 diabetes, diagnosed 2014
Peter Light
Director, Alberta Diabetes Institute
Dr. Charles A. Allard Chair in Diabetes Research
Genetically engineering islet cells and immune cells to improve islet transplantation outcomes

Siyapreet Brar
Type 1 diabetes, diagnosed 2016