The Islet Biology Program includes research related to the development and function of the islet. One primary research focus is the overlapping steps in the progression from stem cells to organized islets.
Investigators compare and contrast pancreas development in organisms as varied as flies, zebrafish, mice, and humans. There is a strong emphasis on studies of islet regeneration oriented towards producing islets for transplantation into patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Islet Biology researchers also study islet function ranging from the generation of islet autoantigens predisposing islets to destruction in Type 1 diabetes to the regulation of beta-cell turnover and the progressive decline in beta cell function leading to beta cell failure and Type 2 diabetes.
Obesity & Metabolism
Examining the central and peripheral mechanisms controlling energy homeostasis. This highly integrated program includes basic and clinical researchers at multiple levels of inquiry dedicated to understanding energy balance.
Areas of emphasis include the central, neuroendocrine regulation of feeding behavior/energy balance and the regulation of metabolism in peripheral tissues. The Program is comprised of a series of interrelated studies in model organisms ranging from flies and worms to mice and humans. Strong genetic studies in all organisms, including humans, help to define the underlying basis of energy balance and its dysregulation arising from and contributing to obesity, metabolic disorders, insulin resistance and diabetes.
Autoimmunity & Inflammation
Researching the origins and therapeutic modulation of autoimmune destruction of the islet in Type 1 diabetes and into the role of inflammation in Type 2 diabetes.
Research within the program has led to novel insights into the surveillance of islet antigens leading to type 1 diabetes, the central role of the breakdown in T cell tolerance in that immune attack on the islet and the role of the immune system in reducing the response of tissues to insulin, leading to type 2 diabetes.
Bringing together researchers from other DRC Research Programs to investigate fundamental processes leading to diabetes in humans with those translating preclinical findings to improvements in diabetes treatment. One strong component of the Translation Program includes researchers involved in the development of treatments for Type 1 diabetes.
Researchers within the Translation Program also study the processes directly leading to diabetes in its most pertinent model organism, humans. These studies incorporate the ability to use a new generation of genomic and metabolic tools to investigate the underlying causes of disease and as well as the modes of action of drug therapies within the patient population. Human studies of the genetic and environmental factors affecting diabetes development and treatment represent another focus of the Translation Program. Thus, the Translation Program translates basic research to human treatment (“bench to bedside”) and studies humans to discover the most pertinent basic research areas (“bedside to bench”).