Diabetes Research Institute Foundation Canada

DRIFCan is dedicated to funding research to find a cure for type 1 diabetes.


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Who We Are

The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation Canada (DRIFCan) was established in 2005 to raise unrestricted funds for type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1D) research. Today, DRIFCan continues to raise funds to support further research for the Edmonton Protocol, a method of implanting pancreatic islets to treat T1D.

The lead Edmonton investigator is Dr. James Shapiro, Canada Research Chair in Transplant Surgery and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.

Dr. Shapiro, director of the Clinical Islet Transplant Program at the University of Alberta, leads several ongoing clinical trials in islet transplantation. To date, he and his team have performed over 500 islet transplants—more than any other islet transplant centre.



“Dr. Shapiro is one of the world’s leading experts in the field of islet transplant technologies. As a transplant surgeon, Shapiro is renowned for determining how to administer human islets, resulting in insulin independence for many diabetes patients, in some cases lasting years.”Dr. Paul Laikind, President and CEO, ViaCyte

 

Given the exciting results demonstrated in pre-clinical studies, funding for Dr. Shapiro’s world-renowned research is of the utmost importance. Your generous support can translate these promising results into a novel new therapy to help millions of patients.

Dr. James Shapiro


James Shapiro, son of a family doctor, was born in Leeds, England. He studied medicine in Newcastle and trained in surgery in Bristol. As a medical student, he developed a long-standing interest in islet transplantation. Since 1998, he has been on faculty at the University of Alberta, where he now holds the Canada Research Chair in Transplantation Surgery and Regenerative Medicine. He directs the living donor liver transplant and the islet transplant programs in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He was the lead investigator on the famous Edmonton Protocol cell transplant treatment for diabetes.

He is the Project 1 lead for the Canadian National Transplant Research Program (CNTRP), which is actively researching ex vivo organ transplant repair. In 2016, his team began the first in-human trials with embryonic stem cell-derived insulin-producing cells transplanted in an immunoisolation device.

Dr. Shapiro is the recipient of a Hunterian Medal from the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Gold Medal in Surgery. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.


Board of Directors


Melanie Hibbard, Executive Director


Melanie Hibbard serves as DRIFCan’s executive director, but her involvement with the organization and the world of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1D) does not stop there. After both of her young sons were diagnosed with T1D, Melanie saw first-hand the effects of the disease on her boys. She began volunteering and participating in community walks and galas, all the while bringing awareness to schools through a Kids Walk program and raising money for T1D research.

Melanie’s involvement and dedication to DRIFCan are closely tied to her dream of helping to work toward a curefor T1D, while also supporting her local community. Melanie has been a board member, chair of outreach community support, mentor to newly diagnosed families, and Kids Walk program and elementary school ambassador—all to bring awareness of T1D.


Mark Bosworth, Board Chair


As an organizational development professional, Mark’s involvement with DRIFCan has been two-fold: on the one hand, he has worked to help the organization achieve its mission and vision, and, on the other, he is driven to help end a disease that has affected many loved ones.

Mark’s son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus at age two, thus motivating Mark to become more involved with DRIFCan when the opportunity arose. Mark not only supports DRIFCan’s goal setting and strategic planning, but he also acts as liaison to Dr. Shapiro and his team to ensure their needs are met.


Jason Turner, Vice Chair


Diagnosed with T1D in 1983, Jason has lived with diabetes nearly all his life. In fact, he is one of the first to embrace DRIFCan’s purpose and receive an islet cell transplant. Jason has received two islet cell transplants, both performed by Dr. Shapiro: the first was in 2004 and the second in 2007.

The transplants transformed Jason’s life and freed him from the ravages of diabetes. Since his transplants, Jason has acted as a representative of Dr. Shapiro’s program and as an advocate for education and support in the T1D community.


Stacey Scott Nykolyshyn, Secretary/Treasurer


Inspired by the hard work and dedication of DRIFCan’s executive director Melanie Hibbard, Stacey decided to join the DRIFCan board both to offer her skills as a mentor-coach to Melanie, and to help with fund development and special events. Stacey believes in the importance of supporting world-class clinical-to-bedside research: doing so fuels her passion for both healthcare and education.

Stacey spent nearly 10 years with the McGill University-affiliated Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation, where she was acted as a liaison with funders to advance pediatric acute care and world-class medical and surgical benchto-bedside translational research through both fundraising and program support.


Nancy Gall, Board Member


Nancy’s late husband Ray founded DRIFCan in 2005 and served both as a funder and as its director until his passing in 2008. Nancy carries on his legacy through her continued involvement and support of DRIFCan, believing that everyone is touched by diabetes in one way or another.

Ray Gall worked for the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association (SMWIA) Local 8. The Building and Construction Trades Department (Canada) established The Ray Gall Memorial Professorship in his name to benefit diabetes research at the University of Alberta.


Jack Hubler, Board Member


Now retired, Jack was a plumber and pipefitter and a union representative for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, Local 488 in Edmonton, Alberta, for over 20 years. It is in this capacity that he became involved with DRIFCan.

Before his retirement, Jack had done fundraising and had also worked with other diabetic and medical foundations and associations. Asked in the early 1990s whether he would like to head up the DADs (Dollars Against Diabetes) Day program for the building trades of Alberta, he agreed and, for many years, led a very successful campaign.

Through his fundraising work for medical research, Jack became acquainted with DRIFCan CEO Bert Murray. Then, in 2014, when Bert invited Jack to sit on DRIFCan’s Board of Directors, Jack agreed and has served as a board member since, espousing the organization’s mission to find a cure for T1D.


Pat McCormack, Board Member


Pat McCormack is a type 1 diabetic active in his community and a 28-year member of the Edmonton Police Service. Pat has served the Edmonton chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) for 20 years, acting as chair for eight of these before deciding to become more actively involved with DRIFCan.

Pat believes in supporting a local organization working to cure his disease. A proponent for change, he hopes future generations will no longer have to deal with T1D, and he envisions a world where kids can just be kids.