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Sen. Byron Dorgan to be honored

Grand Forks, North Dakota, July 2, 2008 Volunteers representing the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF), the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) will present Senator Byron Dorgan with the 2008 Congressional Leadership Award for his leadership on extending the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) in Congress. The meeting will be held at 11:30 a.m. in the Buchli Room at the Hilton Garden Inn in Grand Forks.

The SDP includes two programs the Special Statutory Funding Program for Type 1 Diabetes Research which funds type 1 diabetes research through the NIH, and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) which funds prevention, treatment and education programs for Native Americans with type 2 diabetes through the Indian Health Service. Both programs have demonstrated a real return on the federal investment and are transforming the lives of people with diabetes.

"The Special Type 1 Diabetes Research Program is accelerating our effort to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. There are now over 60,000 people across the country involved in clinical research directly supported by this important program, and the program is leading to the development of new technologies and therapies that are changing lives today." said Larry Soler, VP for Government Relations at the JDRF. "I am pleased that Senator Dorgan is being recognized today for his efforts in Congress to ensure that this critical program continues."

"Federal funding for programs such as SDPI has given Indian health programs and Tribal communities the resources and the tools they need to both prevent and treat diabetes," said Yvette Roubideaux, MD, MPH, Chair of the Awakening the Spirit program, American Diabetes Association. "It funds 66 prevention demonstration projects and over 300 community directed programs, allowing local Tribes and health programs to set priorities that meet the needs of their people, whether it be prevention activities or treatment Senator Dorgan has been a leader and champion for SDP and we applaud him for his commitment to this important program."

"The rates of diabetes for Indians are the highest in the U.S., with rates as high as 60 percent in some of our tribal communities," said Buford Rolin, Vice-Chair of the NIHB and Co-Chair of the Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee. "Over the last ten years, the SDPI activities has had a positive impact in our communities -- we have seen a decrease in blood sugar levels resulting in improved quality of life. Senator Dorgan knows that without reauthorization, all of our accomplishments will be lost. We commend the Senator's dedication for improving health care of Indian people and are honored to present him with this award."

Senator Dorgan has authored legislation to extend the SDP for an additional five years, and the bill currently has 48 co-sponsors in the Senate. As Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, he has also worked to raise awareness about the significant progress that has been made in tribal communities struggling with diabetes.

"I am deeply honored by this award from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the other organizations represented here today, and I plan to keep pushing for policies that will support innovative ways to deal with this disease," Dorgan said. "Diabetes is a serious problem that hits our American Indian communities particularly hard. It's important that we find ways to educate the public about how to prevent diabetes and how to treat it effectively once they have been diagnosed."

Last year, Congress renewed the Special Diabetes Program for an additional year as part of the Medicare bill, and this year Senator Dorgan is working hard to ensure that Congress renews the program for an additional two years as part of the Medicare bill under discussion to ensure that the important programs continue.


Contact: Jillian Lubarsky
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International

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