By Krista Lamb
In October 2022, Dr. Cindy Bell became the new Chair of the Diabetes Action Canada Steering Council.
Dr. Bell is an accomplished scientist and the parent of two now adult daughters with type 1 diabetes. She has been an advocate and ally for the diabetes community for more than thirty years.
Dr. Bell was the Canadian lead on the establishment of the first Medical Research Council of Canada – JDRF partnership in the mid-1990s. This partnership funded two cycles of projects in Canada, including work on the Edmonton Protocol. In addition, she and her husband have organized multiple golf tournaments in partnership with JDRF to raise research funds.
“’I’ve spent many years of my career working on getting research implemented and into the healthcare system in particular. I am thrilled to have this opportunity to continue doing that in another capacity,” she says.
As a scientist, Dr. Bell also brings a research lens to her role with Diabetes Action Canada. She retired from her role as Executive Vice President, Corporate Development with Genome Canada in 2021, after more than twenty years in leadership roles with the organization. There, she was responsible for establishing partnership and providing policy and strategic advice on scientific and other aspects of Genome Canada’s programs, including overseeing and managing the peer review process used to establish research programs.
Her interest in the work of Diabetes Action Canada stems from her own passion for trying to change health systems to better align with the needs of patients and caregivers. “It’s incredibly important. I don’t know how many times throughout my science career and personal life, and not just related to diabetes, that I personally was frustrated with an inability to really contribute to the patient care that I was receiving, or that a loved one was receiving. It’s not any fault of an individual physician or care team, but just more of the system,” she says. “In the dynamic between a doctor and patient, the patients seldom feel empowered. And yet, we know from great experience that you have to listen to patients, you have to take into consideration their experiences.”
In her role of Chair for the Steering Council she hopes to ensure the Diabetes Action Canada team has the support they need and the input they require to make strong decisions around strategy and programming. She also hopes to see the organization’s work result in better outcomes for those living with diabetes. “I’m very committed to bringing new innovations and new technology to the healthcare system. I think our Canadian healthcare system needs to be better at adopting new techniques, technologies, skill sets, whatever it is to accomplish what we need to do for the patient. That will always be in the back of my mind as I’m working with Diabetes Action Canada,” she says.