People to Know 2014: Dana Ball
When Dana Ball and I first met, I quickly knew I had found the best possible partner for the creation of the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s new diabetes venture.
In 2012, that program was spun into a standalone nonprofit, T1D Exchange. As the executive director and cofounder of the organization, Dana has been the driving force behind the creation of an innovative patient-centered project that seeks to accelerate type 1 diabetes research and improve care. While each component—a network of clinics across the United States; a bank of biological samples for use in research; and the online community Glu—had existed independently in one form or another for diabetes, Dana recognized the tremendous potential of combining them. The integrated system aims to collect, organize, and analyze data; recruit trial participants; and engage people with diabetes in the effort to understand, treat, and—someday—cure the disease.
Already, research generated by the program has provided new and invaluable insights into the treatment and care of type 1 diabetes. T1D Exchange continues to expand its reach as a world-class resource for the entire diabetes ecosystem. But Dana’s vision doesn’t stop there: He has always aspired to build similar exchanges for other diseases so we can combine the data and look for clues to help all people living with chronic illnesses.
David Panzirer is the parent of a child with type 1 diabetes and a trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust. The Helmsley Type 1 Diabetes Program is the largest private foundation funder of type 1 diabetes–related research, treatment, and support services in the nation. Since 2011, the trust has made it possible for hundreds of disadvantaged kids to attend ADA camps.