The Russell Berrie Foundation was created to express the values, passions and ideas of Mr. Berrie, whose interest in diabetes was quite personal. He had Type 2 diabetes, and, through a large gift in 1997, created the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University. The Berrie Center, named for Mr. Berries mother, is the only comprehensive diabetes research and treatment center in the New York tri-state area.
The most recent gift will help Columbia, which is already at the forefront of diabetes research and treatment, to open yet another front in the war on the disease: cellular therapy research. This new field holds the promise that medicine will be able to restore body tissues in ways that until recently were unimaginable.
Columbia will use the grant to establish the Russell Berrie Foundation Program in Cellular Therapies for Diabetes at the universitys Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center. The gift also will help support and advance the work of a number of research collaborators outside the university. The first of these collaborators, Dr. Doug Melton of Harvard University, will focus his efforts on identifying the earliest characteristics of insulin-producing cells.
The importance of this gift for me, says Angelica Berrie, is that it keeps alive Russ dream of finding a cure for diabetes. By collaborating with the best minds in research, we will achieve that dream, and improve the health and lives of millions of people who live with this disease and its devastating complications.