How Three Brothers are Changing What We Know About Type 1 Diabetes
Advocacy The three Gardner brothers have enjoyed a close bond since they were kids, but as adults, they are united by more than family ties.
Tim and Ted Gardner both have Type 1 diabetes (T1D), which motivated their older brother Tom to become a doctor. Tom now works to prevent diabetic eye disease with support from JDRF, the leading global organization funding T1D research.
National Diabetes Awareness Month each November encourages Americans to recognize the extensive reach of T1D. Tim explains, “It doesn’t affect only the person with diabetes. T1D affects everyone in the family.” Perhaps that’s why everyone in the Gardner family is actively changing the future of T1D—Tom through his research and Tim and Ted through support of their local JDRF chapters in Illinois and North Carolina, respectively.
Since their T1D diagnosis, Tim and Ted have benefited from many amazing advances in diabetes care. “When Ted and I were first diagnosed, there was no solution other than syringes,” Tim remembers. Then insulin pumps changed the way many people manage T1D.
“We’ve come such a long way and we still have a long way to go—but it’s all possible.”
Ted notes, “For me, the ability to use the pump as a way to deliver insulin was a significant improvement in being able to control sugars.” Another upgrade was continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), which reads blood-sugar levels in real time and tracks changes to detect looming lows and highs. “It’s a big step up in terms of the ease of living with diabetes,” Ted reports.
The Gardners celebrate the scientific progress that has led to this point. And they are equally excited about the potential for ongoing research to develop more life-changing therapies for T1D. Ted believes that next-generation technology like artificial pancreas systems will offer an even larger advantage in blood-sugar control, helping people to avoid complications of T1D and maintain a higher quality of life.
Tom explains, “We’ve come such a long way and we still have a long way to go—but it’s all possible.”
Their T1D connection has strengthened the brothers’ bond. “I have tremendous respect for Tom. He’s tireless in his commitment to his work,” says Tim.
Tom replies, “I have watched my brothers endure T1D 24 hours a day for so many years. They are a major inspiration for me.” Their story reflects many faces of the T1D community: families affected by the disease, and researchers striving to transform their lives.