Diabetes group taps biotech vet to direct funding

Last week the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation found their new chief at a stem cell company. Novocell CEO Alan Lewis was tapped to head the group, which funds cutting edge research projects into new therapies to fight Type 1 diabetes. Lewis' 30-year track record in drug discovery includes a stint as vice president of research at Wyeth Laboratories.

Public financing of drug research has been flat for the past five years, leaving non-profit groups like the JDRF to pick up much of the slack. The 600 person non-profit group awarded $156 million to researchers last year and has contributed $1.3 billion to diabetes research since it was founded in 1970. And one of its grants was directed to Novocell in 2007, part of a broad program aimed at encouraging small biotech companies.

"Dr. Lewis has a track record of bringing therapies to the clinic, of managing complex scientific organizations, and of spurring innovation across a range of diseases including diabetes and other chronic diseases," said Leo Mullin, chairman of the JDRF International board of directors.

- here's the release
- read the report from the San Diego Union-Tribune