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Case study: Rosie Vincent: diabetes in science and art

Rosie Vincent

For Rosie Vincent, research is one of the things which has helped her to know that she is not alone when it comes to living with type 1 diabetes.

The condition has been part of Rosie’s life since she was eight years old. She said: “You can’t shy away from the fact that it is an all-encompassing, life-changing condition, but I feel empowered to control it.

“Research has definitely helped with that. Even knowing little things like the fact that one of the research nurses has diabetes too meant that I was being spoken to by somebody who actually has experience of the condition, as opposed to just someone who was talking at me with no experience of it.”

Rosie, who lives in Bow, east London, has been involved in a number of studies at her local hospital in Mile End, which is part of Barts Health NHS Trust, some of which have been supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research. These studies have ranged from ones where blood samples are taken to the completion of surveys and questionnaires.

Rosie said of her research involvement: “Although I’ve been involved in a fair few studies, I don’t actually feel as though I’ve had to do all that much, because some studies have been just one clinic visit, or filling in a survey.

“I think that’s one of the things I would say to people - if you want to know about research, find out more. I think sometimes people can have a fear that research is all about taking new drugs. It’s about unpicking that fear and realising that research can mean a whole range of things, and it’s not always time-intensive.”

Rosie, who will soon qualify as a primary school teacher, has used her condition as the basis for Je m’appelle Diabetic, a live art performance representing her personal relationship towards her condition from her diagnosis through to now. She performed this in 2017.

She was also a member of the Barts Health NHS Trust/Queen Mary University of London Diabetes Research Lay Panel Group between 2018 and 2021 attending meetings and commenting on online documents.

She no longer attends because of work and teaching commitments but still comes to the Christmas meetings. Prior to this Rose presented to the lay panel about her experience of being involved in diabetes research in December 2017.

“My experience of living with the condition has been pretty positive,” Rosie explained. “It has been a bit up and down - my elder sister Lily was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two years after I was, which was a very emotional time - but I don’t feel alone living with it, which some people say they do.”

  • To find out more about diabetes research happening in your area, visit the NIHR’s Be Part of Research website.