Profile: Senator Susan Collins
Why this Maine leader is so dedicated to a diabetes cure.
An important person to Children's Congress, JDRF, and finding a cure for type 1 diabetes is Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), co-chair of the Children's Congress Congressional Committee. This year, Sen. Collins was one of the co-chairs of JDRF's 2003 Children's Congress and hearing host at the Senate Hart Building.
Sen. Collins first became involved and interested in type 1 diabetes her first year in the Senate. She says it was "as a result of meetings with families of children with diabetes and hearing the stories." Sen. Collins says she then decided it was time to make a difference. Soon after her first year as Senator, she helped found the Senate Diabetes Caucus.
Sen. Collins now talks with many medical experts and families and has learned a lot about type 1 diabetes.
She has strong feelings about curing diabetes. "To cure diabetes is a big obstacle. It is going to take the involvement of thousands of people and researchers who really believe," she says.
A Breakthrough Soon?
Sen. Collins also says that she is "convinced we are on the verge of a breakthrough," and that "with enough investment, a cure is coming soon!" In her opinion, islet transplant research in the United States, Canada, and other countries will lead to a cure for diabetes. Islet cell transplants are becoming more frequent. Around 250 islet cell transplants have been performed, and most recipients have been able to live without insulin for more than a year. "It has great promise," she says.
Sen. Collins also supports the role an average person can play in finding a cure for diabetes. "People should remember to continue to support diabetes research and educate their congress members on juvenile diabetes," she says.
On Tuesday, June 24, Sen. Collins led the Senate Hearing at Children's Congress. "Children's Congress is so important," she states. "The experience helps put a human face on the disease. Children are the best advocates for more support, really."