Our history

Diabetes Research WA (DRWA) was established in 1976 and at first known as the Diabetes Research Foundation of WA Incorporated. The aim was to stimulate research into all aspects of diabetes, in particular finding a cure, in Western Australia.

In 1978 the first grants were awarded, with a total of $8,200 given to the following 4 projects or areas of interest:

  • the Busselton Health Survey
  • rapid testing of blood glucose
  • the development of coated oral insulin; and
  • vascular disease computing equipment.

Over the next ten years some of these research themes were continued along with research at the Lion’s Eye Institute, studies into sexual dysfunction in men with diabetes, trials of insulin pumps, research into diabetes mellitus and thyroid disease, and the epidemiological study of diabetes in Australia were added to the portfolio.

In those early days, financial support came from:

  • Individuals and trusts
  • Property
  • Telethon and regional radio “donorthons”
  • Corporate sponsors
  • Lotterywest (for research equipment), and
  • Support from the Government.

By the 1990s various genetic and insulin study themes had emerged in WA diabetes research and DRWA provided support for research through the Diabetes Australia Research Trust. By the end of the 1990s, it became clear that a more focused approach was required. A team of passioinate individuals agreed to work together to raise funds to establish a Centre for Diabetes Research in WA to bring together Type 1 diabetes research. It took less than a year to pull together $2.3m and The Centre for Diabetes Research was created.

This was a remarkable collaboration between DRWA; The University of Western Australia; the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research (now The Perkins Institute); Diabetes WA and a number of corporate and individual donors. This initial $2.3m has been leveraged, under the leadership of Professor Grant Morahan, to bring in more than $15m of competitive grant funding for diabetes research and equipment.

Over 40 years DRWA has contributed more than $6m for research into diabetes in Western Australia, it's something we are very proud of. All of this would not be possible without our donors whom we are greatly appreciative of.

Research projects awarded over this time include:

  • identifying the genes responsible for developing diabetes 
  • developing insulin-producing cells
  • understanding how retinopathy (blindness) develops
  • investigating memory loss and type 2 diabetes
  • diabetes and obesity
  • understanding the psychological impact of living with diabetes
  • preventing complications of diabetes developing

DRWA now awards research projects on an annual basis with research projects varying from $60,000 - $80,000.

There is no doubt research over the past 100 years has improved our understanding of diabetes. Treatment and management have been made easier with better delivery systems like pens and pumps, but more importantly, it has also brought us closer to finding a cure. The collaborative nature of research undertaken in WA ensures the outcomes achieved here are shared around the world.

In 2014, we underwent a rebrand to 'Diabetes Research WA'. We have a fresher image in-line with the growth of our world-class research and new partnerships. The new byline says it all...



to advance research
to help find a cure
to raise awareness