Volunteer Spotlight: Dayton Coles


Relaying the Research

One thing we can all agree on – T1D is a complicated disease. It is not easy for the general public to understand and the science behind the research is sometimes difficult to explain. But it is vital that we get the word out: JDRF is funding research that will improve the lives of millions of people. Dayton Coles takes this to heart. As a member of JDRF’s Speakers Bureau and National Co-Chair of the RIV (Research Information Volunteer) Program, Dayton has learned to explain difficult science to JDRF chapter audiences. He says, “I love explaining the research and giving people realistic hope for a future without T1D.”

Dayton jokes that he successfully avoided science classes in school, but he eagerly learned about JDRF’s research as a member of the former Lay Review Committee, the National Research Committee and the International Board of Directors. In addition to the countless roles he has taken on for JDRF, Dayton now serves on the Board of Chancellors.

Like many JDRF supporters, Dayton’s passion and motivation are driven by the love for his child and his desire to help her however he can. His daughter Emily was diagnosed with T1D at the age of three, thirty-six years ago. Since then Dayton has witnessed tremendous advancements in how the disease is managed. He says, “Those were the dark ages of understanding the disease. We started out with dipsticks in urine and visiting our doctor once a week to use his glucose meter because they were not yet available for home use. Now we know how important regulating blood sugar is.”

As a retired licensing attorney, Dayton helped JDRF develop its program to partner with industry to help tackle T1D research. He was instrumental in creating the initial contracts and negotiating the new agreements. Today, while JDRF continues its vital relationships with academic scientists, industry partnerships have resulted in very exciting developments, from the Artificial Pancreas Project to encapsulation to human embryonic stem cell discoveries.

Dayton is encouraged by the progress he sees in T1D research and is always ready to help JDRF staff, volunteers and supporters understand the science behind it. Paul Hayes, Director of Research Marketing & Communications says, “He helps educate, inspire and motivate about 150 RIVs across the US and around the world about the exciting research programs JDRF is supporting. These RIVs then share their enthusiasm with scores of other current and potential supporters and staff in their local areas, magnifying the impact of his efforts. He’s been a leader in growing the number and quality of research-related materials that chapters and affiliates use in their local fundraising efforts.”

Living with T1D has come a long way since the “dark ages.” Now an adult, Emily leads a very active and healthy lifestyle. She is a competitive ballroom dancer and works for the Diabetes Hands Foundation in Berkeley, California. Dayton is visibly proud of his daughter and he will continue his work with JDRF to help improve her life. “Emily’s job is to stay healthy” he says. “My job is to help find a cure.”