Oscar winner Jeff Bridges joins TGen's diabetes initiative

'The Dude' endorses The Waylon Jennings Fund for Diabetes Research

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Feb. 21, 2013 - Academy-Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges has joined the National Honorary Committee in support of The Waylon Jennings Fund for Diabetes Research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Bridges - who won Best Actor for playing a troubled musician in the 2009 movie Crazy Heart - joins country music stars Keith Urban, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson and Billy Ray Cyrus in support of a nationwide initiative aimed at finding new diabetes treatments for the 26 million Americans with this life-threatening disease.

"Waylon is a hero of mine and I am proud to support The Waylon Fund for Diabetes Research," said Bridges, whose popularity made a quantum leap with his portrayal of "The Dude" in the 1998 cult-classic film The Big Lebowski.

"I've always admired Waylon as an artist and an Outlaw.He was someone who did it his way, just like my character, The Dude. And in the true Outlaw spirit, he kicked down the doors that were closed to him with both feet.Waylon is a true inspiration for both musicians and scientists who are fighting diabetes," said Bridges, who also is involved in ending hunger, filming two new movies and recently penned a book with co-author Bernie Glassman: The Dude and the Zen Master.

Jeff Bridges - Photo courtesy of Jeff Bridges

Jeff Bridges - Photo courtesy of Jeff Bridges

Bridges has often said his character Bad Blake in Crazy Heart was inspired by thinking of himself as the fifth member of The Highwaymen, a supergroup formed by outlaw-country veterans Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kristofferson and Waylon.

Working with Waylon's widow, Jessi Colter, and their son, Shooter Jennings, TGen established The Waylon Fund in 2011. Waylon, who lived much of his storied career in Arizona, died in 2002 at age 64 from complications of diabetes. He is buried in Mesa, Ariz.

TGen's research into diabetes will allow physicians to more accurately predict who has the greatest risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and related complications, while also identifying targets for treatment of the disease.

"'We are so honored to have the support of Mr. Bridges for our efforts to better treat diabetes and its complications," said Dr. Johanna DiStefano, Director of TGen's Diabetes, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases Division, who leads a team of scientists working in five areas of research: diabetes and heart disease, diabetic nephropathy, diabetes and obesity, diabetes and liver disease, and diabetes and individualized treatment strategies.

For more information, please visit www.thewaylonfund.org, and click on The Waylon National Honorary Committee button at the bottom of the page.

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About TGen

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org.

Press Contact:

Steve Yozwiak

TGen Senior Science Writer

[email protected]

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