How Local Families are Helping to Find a Cure for Diabetes

As George Gittes, MD, and his team continue to uncover promising findings related to their cutting-edge diabetes gene therapy research, we want to celebrate the many donors who make this scientific discovery possible. Here at UPMC Children’s Hospital Foundation, we are fortunate to have a team of generous donors — many of whom have a personal connection to type 1 diabetes (T1D) — dedicated to advancing Dr. Gittes’ exciting research.

Learn more about diabetes gene therapy research from Dr. Gittes himself:

Meet a few of our wonderful diabetes research donor families:

The Piatts

Brynn Piatt was diagnosed with T1D in March 2021 at the age of 12. In the more than two years since, several generations of the Piatt family have come together to further Dr. Gittes’ gene therapy research. The Piatt family — including Brynn’s parents, Rachel and Craig, grandparents, Linnea and Jack, and great aunt and uncle, Terrie and Rod — have made a concerted effort to learn more about the disease and donate to advance critical diabetes research. The family remains hopeful that their commitment to the Gittes Lab will ultimately result in better treatment options for Brynn and the millions of children and adults worldwide living with diabetes.



Blair Type 1 Diabetes Foundation

The Blair Type 1 Diabetes Foundation raises funds in support of cure-based diabetes research. Co-founders Jill Blescia and Susan Lundberg created Blair Type 1 to honor Jill’s daughter, Sophia, and Susan’s daughter, Kailyn. Through an annual Take1Down Gala held each year in Altoona, the Blair Type 1 Diabetes Foundation has raised tens of thousands of dollars to propel scientific discovery. According to Susan, she fundraises for the cause because her daughter and people everywhere deserve a life without T1D.


James and Constance Nassif

Through both personal donations and collaborative fundraising efforts, James and Constance Nassif have contributed to Dr. Gittes’ research efforts for the past several years. The Nassifs understand firsthand how Dr. Gittes’ diabetes gene therapy treatment could change the lives of children and adults living with T1D. The Venetia couple’s grandson, Lucas, was diagnosed with diabetes when he was just 8 years old. Now 14, Lucas hopes to pursue medicine one day to help those facing this difficult disease. In the meantime, the Nassifs remain committed to furthering diabetes gene therapy research in honor of their beloved grandson.


Our deepest thanks to these donors for investing in the Gittes team’s tireless search for a curative solution to diabetes!


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