Collaborative Faculty Leaders Drive Research Progress

Over the next 25 years, the number of Americans with diabetes is expected to double, and the economic costs of diabetes will almost triple. The need for a cure is urgent. In the Diabetes Center at UCSF, we believe that innovative, collaborative research is the answer. Through communication and a spirit of common purpose, our team of internationally renowned scientists and physicians is solidly united in the search for improved treatments and a cure. They are focused on these research areas:

  • Islet regeneration, beta cells, stem cells, and pancreas development
  • Immune tolerance, auto-immunity, and genetics
  • Obesity, metabolism, and inflammation

The graphic below illustrates how our researchers and clinicians interconnect in their areas of expertise. Diabetes Center investigators, like the disease they intend to cure, are not bound by body systems or disciplines. There are no silos. Stem cell biologists consort with immunologists; obesity/metabolism experts lock heads with geneticists. Their offices are separated by glass walls, signifying the transparent, interdependent flow of ideas. Not one of these scientists can operate without the lab next door.

We believe this powerful method of collaboration is our best chance for eradicating diabetes. Already we’ve seen transformational results.

For example:

Jeffrey Bluestone, PhD, and Stephen Gitelman, MD, are focusing on the immune system’s “good cops” known as T-regulatory cells. People with type 1 diabetes do not have enough of them. In a landmark clinical trial, these researchers take T-regulatory cells, significantly amplify their production, and reinsert them into patients, with the goal of stopping their immune systems from destroying their beta cells.

Suneil Koliwad, MD, PhD, and Allison Xu, PhD, are building a research program aimed at dissecting the importance of inflammation in the brain on the risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes. Koliwad brings expertise in measuring inflammation to this collaboration, and Xu brings a vast knowledge of the hypothalamus, an area of the brain where excess dietary fats are known to produce inflammation, and that regulates important metabolic pathways.

The research being conducted by our dedicated faculty affects the lives of millions of patients battling diabetes across the globe. With their determination and extraordinary abilities, our scientists seek to forever change the course of this disease through their cutting-edge work.

“Ours is a uniquely collaborative team of talented and innovative scientists, united by a common goal: to end diabetes,” says Matthias Hebrok, director of the Diabetes Center. “We work tirelessly every day toward this ultimate achievement.”

For more information on how you can play a role in driving diabetes research progress, contact Suzanne Ritchie: 415.476.6334.