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Esformes Family Gift Creates Conference Center at Diabetes Research Institute

Miami, FL (October, 2002) -- The Esformes Pavilion, a newly-constructed conference and education center, was recently added to the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI), a center of excellence at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

Donated in memory of Mary Esformes Robins, the $500,000 conference center was a contribution from longtime DRI supporters Annie and Nate Esformes. The Esformes family has been entrenched in the diabetes community ever since Liz Esformes Alvarez, daughter of Nate, was diagnosed with the devastating disease three decades ago.

Seeking to educate themselves and others about diabetes, they joined the ranks of parents fighting for a cure at the DRI. Last year, the family suffered another crushing blow. Liz’s sister and strongest supporter, Mary, passed away from a heart condition.

“The Pavilion is a learning center, where visiting doctors and DRI scientists can collaborate,” said Annie, who started On Target, a fundraising group of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation that hosts events in order to purchase priority research equipment for the DRI’s scientists.

“Perhaps one day, that’s the room where a cure will be discovered. I can’t think of anything else that would make Mary happier.”

The inaugural workshop held in the new Esformes Pavilion was titled, “Human Islet Isolation and Transplantation Techniques.” The training course was co-hosted by the University of Alberta and the University of Minnesota and was attended by more than 70 scientists from around the world. Upon entering the Pavilion, the emphasis on education is visibly apparent.

The brightly-lit room features rows of light wood tables with more than 70 high-speed Internet connections for laptop use, plus state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment. It offers the perfect environment for the sharing of ideas, analytical discussions and problem solving. Just outside the corridor are the offices of the Institute’s dieticians, nutritionists and diabetes educators.

“Mary grew up living her sister’s disease,” said Nate, owner of Triple E Produce and founder of the Committee of 500, a group of individuals who pledge $500 to the DRI annually until a cure is found.

“Thirty years ago, I made a promise to do whatever I could to help find a cure. I spend every day of my life living up to that promise.”

The Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine is a world leader in cure-focused research. Pioneering new technologies in islet cell transplantation since 1971, the DRI continues to develop ways to speed promising findings from the lab to the patient. For the millions of families looking to the world of science for answers, the Diabetes Research Institute is quickly becoming the best hope for a cure.

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Lori Weintraub - lweintraub@drif.org 
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