The BioHub Brouhaha of 2013: An Animated Retrospective

So most of us know what happened last week with our super top-secret cure-that’s-not-really-a-cure exploding Internet DOC rage fundraising nonsense. And everyone has an opinion on the subject; most of those opinions have already been (very eloquently) expressed in others‘ blogs.

Multiple times, I tried explaining the situation to some non-diabetic, non-DOC friends, family members and co-workers. I work at an advertising and PR firm, so I assumed most of my contemporaries would really get what a shitty PR move the *fauxnouncement* was. Instead, most people just gave me a half-smile as they tried to empathize with a concept they couldn’t really grasp.

So. For those unfamiliar with the “5 more years” nightmare and all the feelings that can beset an Internet-full of diabetics like a bad case of sorbitol-induced diarrhea, I attempted to retell the story using the most expressive content I could find: GIFs.

[Many thanks to Martin Wood, who helped collect the GIFs below.]

March 4, 2013. People with diabetes and parents of children with diabetes across the world began their days with carb-counted bowls of cereal, infusion set changes and finger pricks — as usual. But then, a stirring.

I saw it first on Kim’s Facebook page: a mention from Tom Karlya, Vice President of the Diabetes Research Institute and self-appointed Diabetes Dad, about “What We Have Been Waiting for Since Diagnosis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”



Pretty exciting announcement, right? Only it wasn’t really an announcement. It was an announcement that there would be an another announcement. It was all top secret, see?


Those of us who have had diabetes for 5, 10, 20 or more years were skeptical. After all, we’ve all been told since the day of our diagnosis that a cure for diabetes was “5 to 10 years away.”


We’ve also seen mice, dogs, wombats, fruit flies, Shetland ponies and other lab animals cured of Type 1 diabetes. None of it’s translated to human stuff.

But then, this is Diabetes Dad, right? Dads don’t wildly exaggerate for self-promotional purposes. Dads don’t do things to get your hopes up and then smash them to bits. Dads aren’t mean, are they? What if . . . what if he’s for real?


In other corners of the Internet, some parents of recently diagnosed children were flipping the hell out, God bless them. “They were right!” they must have been thinking. “It’s been 4.5 years since little Johnny was diagnosed, and now, the cure has arrived! The nightmare is over!”


But real information was still hard to come by. Ol’ Diabetes Dad was sworn to secrecy, and the Diabetes Research Institute’s website was down — it takes a lot of website preparation when you’re about to make an announcement that will change the diabetes world. So everyone had the rest of the day — and the night — to dream big dreams about the DRI’s news.


March 5. The time had come. DRI’s website was back in business, and they posted a video that would explain all the details of this diabetes quantum leap.


It was the BioHub! A small sponge-y thing that goes in your body that makes insulin! You don’t have to take anti-rejection drugs! It gets all filled up with re-generated or transplanted islet cells, and the scientists can keep it healthy with “helper cells” and oxygen and things. (For a very well-written description of the BioHub, see Mike Hoskin’s DiabetesMine article.)

Diabetes will be reversed!


The announcement came with a few caveats, though. See, the BioHub hasn’t actually been invented yet. Per se.


Also, the scientists at DRI don’t really know where they’re going to get all these islet cells.


And they don’t really know where in your body they’re going to put the BioHub. Also, it’ll cost a lot. Like, A LOT. And, it’s pretty close to several other projects that are being done by other organizations. So it’s not really a new thing, even though it is really cool and amazing and still imaginary.


At the end of the explanation, the BioHub video tells us that, if we want this thing to actually happen, it’s up to us. And our money.


And the best part: this cure should be ready to go in . . . five to seven years.


I’d say that people were pissed, but that might be an understatement. (According to Diabetes Dad himself, people were particularly nasty in email messages, and some people even threatened him and his family.) The DOC was alight with anger and frustration and other bad feelings.


We’d been promised something cure-like, and instead had been presented with another theoretical treatment that still required lots of money, lots of time, and lots of patience. A theoretical treatment that, if it had been announced without the previous day’s fanfare, would have been welcomed as a big step toward islet cell transplantation.

Now, all the science and technology and forward movement that so many people had worked very hard to accomplish had been overshadowed by one man’s really bad blog post.


Diabetes Dad apologized. When he said things like, “The promise of restoring natural insulin production to millions of children and adults living with diabetes will be outlined” or “I am a diabetes dad……….but it very well may be, for not too much longer,” he didn’t really mean that we were close to a cure for diabetes. He just meant that he needed more money to get closer to making a plan to cure diabetes.


March 6 – Present. Diabetes life goes on. We test, we inject, we eat, we repeat. We try to remain grateful for the amazing tools we do have, and keep a little bit of hope alive for the day when a cure (however you define it) really does arrive.


And we remember that sometimes, as wonderful and dynamic as the Diabetes Online Community is, shit gets out of control — fast. When something sounds too good to be true — even when it’s from a trusted member of the community — it probably is.

It’s better to take a step back, breathe, and go eat a cupcake.


50 comments on “The BioHub Brouhaha of 2013: An Animated Retrospective

  1. Kim says:

    This. Is. Amazing. “Best use of GIFs in a diabetes blog post” is an award category somewhere, right? Because that trophy is YOURS.

  2. […] Type 1 The BioHub Brouhaha of 2013: An Animated Retrospective (complete with funny […]

  3. Alanna says:


    I don’t even usually use all caps, but MAN a good useage of gifs makes my heart skip a beat. I think I have a crush on this post.

  4. Jess says:

    AMAZING!!!! Well done, my friend.

  5. Dad and Mom says:

    We loved it! Laughed HTH all through it. One of the best you’ve ever done.

  6. Jacquie, you are a freaking GENIUS! Wow!

  7. A-Flizzle says:

    This is an amazing post–love it!! Anderson Cooper GIF for the win!

  8. theperfectd says:

    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Brava!

  9. Ruth says:

    Perfect! It was a bit like living though it all again but laughing this time.

  10. Brian says:

    Jacquie you make my heart sing with this post. You didn’t even use any bad words. I am quite impressed. I butt cheeks you.

  11. says:

    This is a perfect virtual kick to the favorite part of his body. Well done!

  12. kelly2k says:

    Amazaballs! As in: You & this post are freaking Amazaballs!!

  13. StephenS says:

    Just when I thought I’d seen everything ever written about the subject… there’s this. And I didn’t think I would ever laugh about this topic. Thanks for the release.

  14. Katy says:

    This is brilliant! You made my whole month so much better!

    The remaining compelling part of this whole thing is: what was that guy thinking? Does anyone really think of him as “Diabetes Dad,” other than himself? Is he really paid over $200K a year by the DRI, and if so…is it as a…spokesperson? And if so…do they think he is doing a good job?

    I am sorry someone threatened his family. That’s dumb.

    This story would make a FANTASTIC long article in The New Yorker—like that one about the humble, well-meaning dentist who faked a bunch of marathon times. I think this is probably a lot like that: pathologically attention-seeking person desperately wants to be seen as humble good guy.

  15. Rachel says:

    That’s it. You win the Internet.

  16. Judith says:

    Encapsulating islets! WOW! Great idea!! First I heard of it was in the 1970s – Paul Lacy, Washington University in St. Louis!

  17. Wendy says:

    I’ll try to come back to leave an insightful comment. For now, I have to clean up the water I spit out laughing so hard. And I have to stop laughing long enough to think of something insightful to say.

    Also, thanks for the shout out.

    That was insightful, right?

  18. Chris says:

    Goodness gracious! I’m SO GLAD you don’t have a job or a young child, so that you’re able to devote your talents to your true calling, which was assembling this post (and I’m glad that Martin helped. He’s funny too.)

    The only bad news I have is that you’ve officially peaked, and we’ll be moving you into an assisted-blogger facility to while away the rest of your days on the internet, telling anyone who will listen about “the big one back in aught-13”.

  19. tricia7473 says:

    AMEN! Thank you for sharing this…I was wondering what all the hub-bub was about, I saw nasty comments flying but just didn’t want to touch it (even with a 10-foot pole!)

  20. Mike Hoskins says:

    This is one of the best things I’ve ever witnessed. Brilliant, to echo the chorus of comments saying the same above. You get the golden GIF cupcake award, which so needs to become a new thing. With the DR’s self-promotion a few days before of this being “the next quatum leap,” this GIF so came to my mind, too -> Like you said, whole thing = #PRfail. Oh hey, and thanks too for the shout-out!

  21. Kerri. says:

    The Jim Carrey typing (what movie is that from?) made me laugh out loud for real. For realz.

  22. Scott E says:

    What!?? My pet wombat has diabetes… and so do three of my nephew’s fruitflies (the fourth has been clinically diagnosed with “pre-diabetes”, and we’re nervously waiting to see how it develops). There’s a CURE?? Why didn’t anyone tell me??

  23. krisfitz says:

    Thanks for making me laugh about that stunning #PRFail! This is brilliant and hilarious and much-needed – thank you!!!

  24. Stacey D. says:

    This is fantastic. What a brilliant illustration. Thank you for being so creative!! And Kerri, it’s Bruce Almighty 🙂

  25. kelly2k says:

    Also –
    A. You are awesome
    B. You Rock
    C. “Those gifs had my head spinning like the ‘Pokémon Panic of 97!’ Google it. Except instead of seizures I was ROTFLMAO!!
    And I really needed to do that!

  26. So, so, so BRILLIANT! Thank you for this!!

  27. Bruce says:

    This was the best post ever, thank you

  28. Jeff says:

    So all for serious and stuff… I kinda missed the whole kerfufle last week on account of it being Lent and–despite me not really being Catholic anymore–needing to get more shit done in my life. So when I heard about some diabetes craziness, I thought, “I don’t have time for this! I hope someone will explain it to me in an easy-to-understand animagical format.” And here it is! So, thanks!

  29. Ellen says:

    Were those biohubs floating across the road, or tumbleweed? What, no mention of zebrafish having been cured? GREAT blog post – award worthy

  30. Jennifer says:

    You rule. Greatest synopsis ever!

    (And, Kerri, the Jim Carrey one is from Bruce Almighty)

  31. gillian4020 says:

    Reblogged this on Endurance Diabetic and commented:
    A great job of describing the events leading up to the supposed “miracle cure” for diabetes announced last week. Hilarious!!!

  32. Karen says:

    Thank you!! This was hilarious:). I’m still cracking up over the Jim Carrey typing one, and Bill Cosby doing his little pursed-lips eye roll brought a good chuckle.

  33. Meagan says:

    This was my FAVORITE blog post of all time. I agree with the above comments…the Jim Carrey bit killed me. Thank you Jacquie, THANK YOU. 🙂

  34. Jasmine says:

    So. Good. I couldn’t even read all the posts about this that came through my Reader, so I really appreciate your annotated guide to the madness 🙂

  35. […] where I reflected about the newest “cure” news.  Lots of people did it, but this did it best.  Go look at it, read it, and maybe understand a little better (or if you understand, smile). […]

  36. Sara says:

    I am super late commenting so I will just say ditto to all the comments above. And also, I think I am in love.

  37. […] The BioHub Brouhaha of 2013: An Animated Retrospective | Typical Type 1. […]

  38. Abso-f**king-lutely brilliant. This is seriously the best blog post of, well, possibly ever.

  39. Reva says:

    This post is amazing! You found the perfect GIFs and such a good explanation of the events. I feel informed and entertained 🙂

  40. […] as a result, and Jacquie Woycik over at Typical Type 1 used some animated GIFs to bring a little levity to the whole situation. Of course, we like many others were very excited to see that this DRI […]

  41. […] is sorry that people misunderstood him re Biohub, and in an unrelated incident someone painted a swastika on his […]

  42. Katy says:

    this gets more and more awesome. shetland ponies.

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