Dee and Bill Brehm, staunch supporters of diabetes research and the creators of the Brehm Coalition, know first hand the difficulties of managing type 1 diabetes. Dee, diagnosed at the age of 19, has lived with the disease for over 60 years.
Today, Dee and Bill’s personal mission is to advance discovery and strengthen diabetes research through nontraditional methods. Bill was convinced that creating partnerships between scientists from opposite sides of the globe was the answer. He knew this type of collaboration, rarely tried in the medical research community, would greatly accelerate the current pace of discovery through a high level of rapid data sharing and a focused mission around the pathogenesis of diabetes. He believed technology would allow a level of collaboration and sense of community that was not possible years ago.
In 2007 the dream became a reality with the creation of the Brehm Coalition. Through an established partnership between the Brehms and the University of Michigan, the plan was put into place. With the help of Dr. Peter Arvan, U-M’ s Chief of the Metabolism, Endocrinology, and Diabetes Division and Dr. Mark Atkinson, Professor of Medicine, Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory Medicine Division at the University of Florida, the group of world-renowned scientists specializing in immunology were selected. With the chosen list, Dee and Bill set out to meet each of the five individuals at their institutions to learn more about their research and interest in joining the collaboration.
It took no time for the scientists to agree on becoming members. With all on board, the members officially met and discussed their plan of action on February 2, 2007 at the University of Michigan. The meeting led to an agreement between the scientists on their mission and future steps in finding a cure.
Since that time, the coalition has expanded. Three new members, plus Dr. Arvan (an existing member), formed a second branch, the beta cell biologist group. Now, five immunologists, five beta cell biologists make up the Brehm Coalition.