$3.2 million award will fund first steps for innovative web services and support other initiatives in diabetes care and research

BOSTON – December 21, 2010 – Under a transformative $3.2 million donation from the Thomas J. Beatson, Jr. Foundation, Joslin Diabetes Center is taking the first major steps in creating Joslin WebCare, an ambitious project to bolster diabetes patient care and education through next-generation web services. The major gift also will underpin initiatives in caring for children with diabetes and for research aimed to guard against eye disease and other diabetes complications.

“Tom Beatson has been an inspirational role model for living successfully with type 1 diabetes, and for his philanthropy in helping others to do the same,” says John Brooks, Chairman of Joslin’s Board of Trustees. “This generous donation will have a tremendous impact as we develop and bring new tools that improve how people with diabetes can manage their lives, and in strengthening studies for learning how we can better inhibit or reduce diabetes complications.”

“An online extension of the world-leading JoslinCare model, Joslin WebCare will give people with diabetes and their families worldwide access to Joslin’s proven multi-disciplinary, patient-centric, education-based diabetes management services,” says Martin Abrahamson, M.D., Joslin’s Chief Medical Officer. “Patients will be connected securely with their health care providers and provided with a range of personalized health management tools and interactive educational activities.”

“Joslin WebCare is all about patient education—allowing people to learn what they need to know when they’re ready to learn it,” adds Cathy Carver, Joslin’s vice president for services development. “The service will allow us to move our patients’ relationship with Joslin from a few visits and phone calls each year to an ongoing relationship that more fully supports their goals in managing their condition.” 

Approximately $1 million of the Beatson Foundation gift will be dedicated to help launch Joslin WebCare. Beginning in second-half 2011, the service will offer Joslin patients optional online appointment scheduling and access to selected medical records. Late next year Joslin plans to take a second major step, launching a pilot study of a new generation of dynamic individualized interactive educational material tailored to help people with diabetes manage their condition.   

In another portion of the gift that was announced last month, the Beatson Foundation is providing $1 million in funding for the Joslin Pediatric, Adolescent and Young Adult Clinic’s care ambassador program. The program has been renamed the Eleanor Chesterman Beatson Childlife Care Ambassador Program in commemoration of Mr. Beatson’s mother. The program’s cornerstone is a group of specially trained pediatric case managers who act as liaisons between families and their medical team. Joslin research has shown that youngsters who received care ambassador support services enjoyed healthier outcomes than those who received standard care, including 40% fewer trips to emergency rooms and half the number of severe low blood glucose episodes.

Additionally, the Beatson gift will accelerate research about ways to detect and prevent diabetic eye complications, continuing Joslin’s unsurpassed record of discoveries in understanding, preventing and treating this common problem. Moreover, the award will fund a tissue regeneration program that helps to identify biological factors that either contribute to or help prevent against damage that diabetes causes to the body’s insulin-producing cells, eyes, kidneys and cardiovascular system. 

Overall, the gift honors the memory of both parents of Thomas Beatson and the care they provided when he was diagnosed with diabetes 68 years ago. Mr. Beatson has continued to lead an active life, riding more than 100,000 miles on bicycles in his home state of Arizona. A longtime friend of Joslin and participant in the Joslin 50-Year Medalist Study, in 2008 he donated $1 million to advance several projects in research on type 1 diabetes.