Skip to main content

Diabetes Action Canada 2023 Collaborators Report

Collaborators Report 2023

Looking back on 2023, our Diabetes Action Canada Network has much to be proud of!

We successfully launched many projects and programs. We grew the number of Patient Partners and researchers in our Network, and we worked with community partners, government, and others to bring the findings of our research teams to people living with diabetes.

Below, you’ll find an overview of some areas of our work in the previous year that we’re particularly excited to share. We hope you’ll see the many ways that people with lived experience of diabetes have become essential parts of the research process.

It’s exciting to look back on what we achieved, but even better to know we’ve laid the groundwork for an impact-driven 2024.

Tracy McQuire

Tracy McQuire

Executive Director
Gary F. Lewis

Gary F. Lewis

Scientific Co-Lead
André Carpentier

André Carpentier

Scientific Co-Lead

Diabetes Action Canada in the Community

From presentations at national conferences to one-on-one meetings with key collaborators, in 2023 the DAC team was in community with people living with diabetes and our research teams. Being present in spaces were people with diabetes, healthcare providers and researchers are is essential to building successful programs to support the needs of those we serve.

Vascular 2023

Vascular 2023 brought together healthcare providers, researchers and Patient Partners from the diabetes and heart health communities for several days of education, information-sharing and networking.


In October our Knowledge Mobilization team partnered with the McMaster Collaborative for Health and Aging to present a workshop for those wishing to use patient-oriented research in their work with older adults.


Our DAC Patient Partners, staff and researchers presented at dozens of conferences, meetings, online events, training sessions and other public-facing events. Sharing the power of patient-oriented research is essential.

Diabetes Action Canada by the Numbers

Since we launched in 2016, we have continued to grow our Network. The figure above highlights just a few of the significant ways we’ve supported patient-oriented research in diabetes.

In 2023, we continued this upward trajectory with a wealth of new achievements.


plain language publications


peer reviewed publications


in peer reviewed funding


letters of support with 22 projects funded

41 Focus Groups

Our Patient Partners were active participants in focus groups that helped researchers refine their ideas and understand how their ideas meshed with the needs of those living with diabetes. People with lived experience were able to share their insights and reflections to improve research questions and projects. We were pleased to have more than 160 participants from diverse backgrounds participate in these groups.

23 Events

Our Diabetes Action Canada team and Patient Partners participated in 23 events, including international congresses, national conferences, and community workshops with a total reach of more than 12,000 attendees. These events allowed Patient Partners to present their expert experiences, fostered collaborations, and helped us educate and inform on the importance of lived experience in research.

47 Grant Applications

In academia, research papers and peer-review are critical. However, we believe that lived experience is important at this level of the process. Our Patient Partners were involved in 47 grant applications, resulting in the funding of 22 projects aligned with patient priorities.

Bringing Programs to People with Diabetes

Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program

Led by Dr. Valeria Rac, our Diabetic Retinopathy Screening program collaborated with the Alliance for Healthier Communities and ICES to design a study that used electronic medical records to identify people with diabetes who had not had an eye screening in the last 425 days. Those who were identified were contacted by Community Health Centres and offered free screening. This pilot project will allow Dr. Rac and her team to study the effectiveness of this program in removing barriers to screening. The program is currently being tested across Canada in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Newfoundland.

Valeria Rac

Valeria Rac

Senior Scientist and Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Lead with the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research (TRCHR), Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute (TGHRI), University Health Network (UHN) Director of the Program for Health System and Technology Evaluation, TGHRI Associate Professor at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME), University of Toronto (UofT) Co-Lead of two research programs with the CIHR SPOR Diabetes Action Canada Network: Knowledge Mobilization, Implementation and Evaluation Program and Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program

Older Adults with Diabetes and Multiple Complications Program

Led by Dr. Rebecca Ganann from McMaster University, this program was developed with the input of patients, caregivers, primary and community care providers and researchers. It was delivered to older adults living with diabetes and other chronic health conditions over a period of six months by nurses, dietitians and community providers. Participants reported improved eating habits, enhanced physical function, improved knowledge in managing diabetes and other chronic conditions, and improved connection to community resources.

Rebecca Leigh Ganann

Rebecca Leigh Ganann

PhD Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, Tenure Track, McMaster University Co-Lead (Acting), McMaster Collaborative for Health & Aging Co-Scientific Director, Aging, Community and Health Research Unit Lead, Patient Expertise in Research Collaborations – Primary Health Care, INSPIRE-PHC Network

Improving Access to Footcare for People with Diabetes

Diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) put a heavy financial strain on regional healthcare services. However, our research team has shown that there are ways to reduce costs while improving outcomes for patients. Led by Dr. Charles de Mestral from Unity Health in Toronto, this project has shown that using multidisciplinary teams and specialized care pathways for DFU patients can be effective. This evidence has helped us reach policymakers, as it is an opportunity to ensure better care, reduce the number of lower limb amputations, and decrease burden on the healthcare system.

Charles de Mestral

Charles de Mestral

Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery Vascular Surgeon, St. Michael’s Hospital Scientist, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital Adjunct Scientist, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences

Supporting Improved Diabetes Care for Indigenous Communities

Our Indigenous Peoples’ Health Program is guided by our Indigenous Patient Circle and Indigenous community leaders, many of whom are from Manitoba. Currently, the Indigenous Patient Circle consists of 12 persons with lived experience from diverse nations including Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee/ Kanien’keha:ka, Nēhiyawēwin (Cree), Innu, Inuit, Coast Salish, Métis and Anishininiimowin (Oji-Cree) nations.

This program addresses the Truth and Reconciliation Calls (TRC) to Action # 19, 22, 23 & 24 by defining indicators for T2D risk among Indigenous youth, promoting Indigenous healing practices through knowledge translation activities with Elders/Knowledge Keepers, increasing the number of Indigenous trainees working in the area of diabetes research and the number of settler clinicians and scientists trained in anti-racism.

Dr. Barry Lavallee, an expert in anti-racism training with the Diabetes Integration Project within the First Nation Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba, developed an eight-week anti-racism training program for healthcare practitioners. Building on the anti-racist adult education used in the University of Manitoba First Nation Health longitudinal course for medical trainees, it was piloted and refined with Indigenous and non-Indigenous trainees within DAC. It directly addresses the TRC Call to Action #24 to “Provide cultural competency training for all healthcare professionals”.

Digital Health Solutions

The National Diabetes Repository (NDR) continues to offer researchers access to primary care data through a supported digital infrastructure with patient-led governance to address diabetes- specific questions with minimal barriers. This focus on data allows researchers to deeply understand how people with diabetes interact with the healthcare system, and the health issues they are experiencing. This lens allows us to hone in on research projects that address the areas where we can have greatest impact.

Learn more about two of our recent NDR-supported projects:

New study looks at essential requirements for the governance of data repositories.
National Diabetes Repository Facilitates Research on Drug Therapies for Type 2 Diabetes.

Knowledge Mobilization

Knowledge mobilization (KM) can be a complex academic science, but it’s impact on bringing the results of research studies into practical understanding and application is undeniable. To bridge that gap, DAC has developed a range of knowledge mobilization tools and webinars to simplify the complexities of KM science. In 2023, we also launched our Knowledge Mobilization Consultation Service to ensure our research teams were considering KM from the very start of the grant application process and beyond.

Sharing our Stories

Season three of the Actions on Diabetes Podcast included conversations with our researchers and patient partners about a variety of topics, including mental health supports for those with type 1 diabetes, improving access to diabetic retinopathy screening for new immigrants to Canada, health coaching in type 2 diabetes, and much more!

In 2023, we launched a wealth of webinar content, including Beyond Clinical Trials: How to Leverage Your Story in Diabetes Research and our Knowledge Mobilization Basics series. We also have a number of training, education and information videos available to all.

New Collaborations

In January, 2023 the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) announced funding for the Accelerating Clinical Trials (ACT) Canada Consortium, which will improve Canada’s ability to conduct clinical trials for therapies that could have a positive impact on health outcomes for Canadians. ACT brings together hundreds of researchers over 28 networks, 11 clinical trial units, Patient Partners, members of the biotechnology industry, government, and other experts. Diabetes Action Canada will be involved through its participation in the Diabetes Clinical Trial Network, led by Dr. Hertzel Gerstein (Deputy Director of the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences).

In 2023 Diabetes Action Canada became a member of the World Health Organization’s Global Diabetes Compact. The Compact, which has a vision of, “responding to the increasing burden of diabetes around the world,” was launched in 2021 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. Comprised of members from diabetes organizations around the globe, Diabetes Action Canada looks forward to learning from other members and supporting the Compact’s goals of “ensuring that all people who are diagnosed with diabetes have access to equitable, comprehensive, affordable and quality treatment and care.”

Training the Next Generation

In collaboration with the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation, DAC established a highly successful Patient-Oriented Research Training and Mentoring program, and provided the leadership, patient partnership and framework for Maximize your Research on Obesity and Diabetes (MyRoad). MyRoad is helping train the next generation of scientists to mobilize new and emerging evidence into practice and policy with a specific focus on patient partnership.

This year, we also concluded post-doctoral awards for two early career investigators.

Dr. Ghazal Fazli is now Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga and leads Education and Training at the Novo Nordisk Network for Healthy Population

Dr. Virginie Blanchette, the first PhD-trained podiatrist in Quebec, is an active DAC co-investigator and Steering Council member.

DAC 2.0 Vision, Mission, and Goals

Who are we?

Our Mission

Our Vision

  • Pan-Canadian research network bringing patients, caregivers, health care experts and researchers together to address diabetes health concerns through collaborative research.
  • Our researcher efforts prioritize equity, diversity, and inclusion to enhance healthcare for all.
  • Funded through the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) Program at CIHR and other partners.

Guided by patient partners, Diabetes Action Canada strives to achieve equitable care and improved health outcomes for all persons affected by diabetes.

All persons with diabetes, in Canada experience, optimal health and wellness.

What we do

Plan, execute & evaluate

patient-oriented research for improved outcomes and experiences.


patient-oriented diabetes research, emphasizing equity in equity-denied communities.


in patient engagement, knowledge sharing, digital health, and communication.


diabetes care systems through interdisciplinary collaboration.

Our Research

Promote optimal aging at home
Support innovative research in T1D
Prevent blindness
Prevent foot amputations
Foster resilience in diabetes
Leverage diabetes data for better health

Publications with Impact

In this fiscal year, our research teams had DAC-related publications in 42 academic journals. These publications highlight the impact of patient-oriented research to experts in the field and help to establish patient partners as respected members of a research team.

Highlights from 2023:

  • The Association of Homelessness With Rates of Diabetes Complications: A Population-Based Cohort Study Diabetes Care

  • Higher Neighborhood Drivability Is Associated With a Higher Diabetes Risk in Younger Adults: A Population-Based Cohort Study in Toronto Diabetes Care

  • Sex- and Age-Based Achievement of Type II Diabetes Clinical and Treatment Targets in Canadian Primary Care (2015-2020): A Multi-Provincial Serial Cross-Sectional Study CMAJ

  • Empagliflozin add-on therapy to closed-loop insulin delivery in type 1 diabetes: a 2 × 2 factorial randomized crossover trial Nature Medicine

  • Prevalence and predictors for being unscreened for diabetic retinopathy: a population-based study over a decade Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology

Find a selection of our publications of note in our Resources section


Diabetes Action Canada gratefully acknowledges the following contributors. Your support and partnership has allowed us to bring together researchers, healthcare providers and patients from across the country with the goal of transforming health outcomes for people with diabetes.

Project & Institutional Partners

Alliance sante Quebec
Cardiometabolic Health Diabetes and Obesity Research Network
Centre de Formation Medicale du Nouveau-Brunswick
Centre integre universitaire de sante et de services sociaux de la Capitale-Nationale
Diabetes Research Envisioned and Accomplished in Manitoba
eHealth Innovation
Fighting Blindness Canada
Heart & Stroke
Heart & Stroke Centres of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research
Hopital St. Boniface Hospital
Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montreal
Medicine University of Toronto
Michael Smith Foundation For Health Research
New Brunswick Health Research Foundation
North York General
Research Manitoba
Université de Sherbrooke
University Health Network
University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine

Patient Representative Strategic Partners

Foundational Partners