Islet Production

The mission of the Islet Production Core is to assist investigators who currently study or have plans to study pancreatic islet cell biology and islet transplantation. The Islet Production Core objectives are: provide investigators with highly purified and functional mouse and human islets; provide consultative support for DRC members who wish to work with islets in downstream assays; provide training for DRC members to learn to isolate their own mouse islets using standardized, best practices; and enable the development of new methods and technologies for islet research. 

Core Services and Facilities 

  • Processing and preparation of human and mouse islets for use in islet transplantation, gene expression, and/or functional studies.  

  • Valuable consultation services for real time biological and biochemical analysis of insulin production and other functional aspects of human and mouse islets to characterize islet activity under different conditions and to assess islet preparation quality for transplantation studies.  

  • Development of new resources and technologies related to islet isolation and functional assessment that meet high volume and emerging needs by DRC investigators (see Core Evolution section). 

Table 1. Recharges for Islet Production Core Services


Recharge Rates

Current/Projected Co-Pays to DRC researchers

Mouse islet isolation (per prep; up to 5 mice/prep)





Human islet isolation                          

(Total Costs)

(Costs/ laboratory when split amongst ten laboratories, each lab receiving approximately 15,000-20,000 IEQ)


$  1,550



Consultation services



Islet Preparation 

The preparation of purified islets and pancreatic tissue represents the major focus of the Islet Production Core. The DRC Islet Production Core arose out of the human islet clinical transplant program at UCSF. It therefore has a strong focus not just in islet isolation but, for both human and mouse islets, isolation of a quality sufficient for successful transplantation studies. The Core ensures that those capabilities are accessible to the community. 

The Core promotes and facilitates the use of the best technologies for purifying and analyzing human or rodent islets. The Core Director and Core Staff have extensive experience in mouse, rat, monkey, and human islet isolation, islet purification, islet culture and islet quality control, having processed thousands of mouse islets preparations and >200 islet preparations from human pancreases for clinical and research purposes. Islets and pancreases are prepared and supplied to researchers involved in both clinical trials and basic science. The Core thus acts as an important bridge between basic scientists working on beta cell and islet research and clinicians organizing beta cell or islet clinical trials. 

Mouse Islet Preparation

The Core also provides mouse islets to investigators conducting basic research studies on islet function or as a model for transplantation. Mouse islets are isolated in a 200-sq. ft. rodent procedure room dedicated to the isolation of murine islets. This room is located near the rodent barrier facility at the Parnassus campus, which is the site of the UCSF Diabetes Center. The procedure room houses a 4-ft. Class II, vertical laminar flow hood, a CO2 incubator, refrigerator, microscopes, anesthesia machine, balance, centrifuge, and all necessary equipment to isolate and purify rodent islets. The building is located adjacent to our AALAC accredited Vivarium, with mouse rooms that contain ventilated mouse racks, in which all cages receive HEPA filtered air. This vivarium is where our donor or islet transplanted mice are housed. 

Consultative Services

The Islet Production Core also provides consultative services for biological and biochemical analyses of insulin production and other islet functions. These assays characterize islet function in response to experimental interventions such as the effects of genetic background, drug treatment or other interventions on islet function. These standardized procedures also serve as quality controls for batch-to-batch analysis islets preparations. The availability of trained and highly experienced Core personnel is crucial to islet production quality.