Our Research Team


Matthias Hebrok, PhD: Diabetes Center Director, Beta Cell/Stem Cell Research
The Hurlbut-Johnson Distinguished Professor in Diabetes Research, Dr. Hebrok has been the director of the Diabetes Center since March 1, 2010. His research focuses on pancreas development and stem cells. Dr. Hebrok studies how islets are formed during organogenesis, how their function is regulated once mature, and how changes in gene expression might enable islet regeneration and the transformation of stem cells into insulin-producing beta cells. Dr. Hebrok’s group co-created the first functioning human thymus tissue from embryonic stem cells in the laboratory, paving the way for the development of potential new treatments for type 1 diabetes and other immunodeficiency diseases.

Saleh Adi, MD: Madison Clinic for Pediatric Diabetes Director
Dr. Adi is a clinical professor of pediatric endocrinology, director of the Madison Clinic for Pediatric Diabetes at UCSF, and a faculty member of the UCSF Diabetes Center. He treats patients with endocrine disorders including diabetes and adrenal, calcium, growth, pituitary, pubertal, and thyroid conditions. Dr. Adi specializes in management of young children with type 1 diabetes and conducts research in type 1 diabetes.

Mark Anderson, MD, PhD: Immunology Research
The Robert B. Friend and Michelle M. Friend Endowed Chair in Diabetes Research, Dr. Anderson is a recognized expert in understanding how autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes occur. He helped discover the function of a protein called Aire that is critical to helping immune cells learn to recognize and avoid attacking the body’s own tissue. Dr. Anderson’s group co-created the first functioning human thymus tissue from embryonic stem cells in the laboratory. In addition to his research and teaching activities, Dr. Anderson sees adult patients in the Justine Kathryn Schreyer Diabetes Care Center.

Jeffrey Bluestone, PhD: Immunology Research
The A.W. and Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Professor in Metabolism and Endocrinology, Dr. Bluestone is the former director of the UCSF Diabetes Center. He is currently the director of the Immune Tolerance Network. Dr. Bluestone is renowned as a world leader in autoimmunity and transplantation immunology. He is committed to the development of novel clinical applications in immune tolerance and has been an important catalyst for recent progress in islet cell transplantation for treating type 1 diabetes.

David Gardner, MD: Inflammation/Obesity/Metabolism Research
The Mount Zion Health Fund Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Osteoporosis, Dr. Gardner has spent over a quarter-century at UCSF investigating the factors that activate gene expression in the hypertrophied heart. Dr. Gardner hopes to identify new drugs to therapeutically target and attack the problem of cardiovascular disease in type 1 and type 2 diabetic patients.

Michael German, MD: Beta Cell/Stem Cell Research
The Justine K. Schreyer Endowed Chair in Diabetes Research, Dr. German is the associate director and clinical director of the UCSF Diabetes Center, director of the UCSF/NIH Diabetes Research Center, and director of the Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism Fellowship Program. The central focus of Dr. German’s research program is to understand the mechanisms controlling the formation and function of beta cells and to apply this knowledge to curing diabetes.  He also sees patients, teaches medical students, and lectures at the UCSF Diabetes Teaching Center.

Stephen Gitelman, MD: Immunology Research, Clinical Trials Research
Dr. Gitelman is currently director of the Pediatric Diabetes Program at UCSF and holds the Mary B. Olney, MD/KAK Distinguished Professorship in Pediatric Diabetes and Clinical Research. Dr. Gitelman’s research interests focus on better understanding the cause of immune-mediated destruction of insulin-producing beta cells and finding safe and effective means to alter the natural course of the disease. He is a world leader in type 1 diabetes clinical trials, serving as the UCSF director of the NIH-funded research consortium TrialNet and an investigator in the Immune Tolerance Network. 

Shingo Kajimura, PhD: Inflammation/Obesity/Metabolism Research
Dr. Kajimura focuses on obesity-linked diseases such as type 2 diabetes. His lab discovered how to convert ordinary white fat to brown fat, a specialized type of fat that burns energy and generates heat. More recently, Dr. Kajimura and his colleagues have found that a common class of drugs given to people with diabetes enables the conversion of white fat cells to brown fat cells. This discovery could lead to the creation of new weight loss drugs in the future.    

Suneil Koliwad, MD, PhD: Inflammation/Obesity/Metabolism Research
The Gerold Grodsky, PhD/JAB Chair in Diabetes Research, Dr. Koliwad is a practicing endocrinologist who treats patients at San Francisco General Hospital. In his research lab, Dr. Koliwad investigates the role of chronic inflammation in the development of type 2 diabetes and how dietary lipids modulate the activation of innate immune cells that trigger and maintain inflammation in metabolic tissues.    

Gregory Ku, MD, PhD: Beta Cell/Stem Cell Research, Genetics Research
Dr. Ku completed his post-doctoral training in the UCSF Diabetes Center with Drs. Michael T. McManus and Michael S. German where he identified novel regulators of insulin production in pancreatic beta cells. Dr. Ku’s research focus is to perform a whole genome RNA interference screen in pancreatic beta cells. He also seeks to identify microRNA targets and analyze features of functional small hairpin RNAs.  As a practicing endocrinologist-scientist, he also sees diabetes patients at UCSF.

Alex Marson, MD, PhD: Immunology Research
A UCSF Sandler Fellow, Dr. Marson studies regulatory T cells, which are essential in preventing autoimmune diseases like diabetes. Specifically, he and his team focus on the molecular circuitry that governs differentiation of pro-inflammatory and regulatory T cells, and the ways in which mutations affecting this circuitry contribute to immune dysregulation in human disease.

Umesh Masharani, MD: Inflammation/Obesity/Metabolism Research
A clinical professor of endocrinology and metabolism, Dr. Masharani has an active clinical practice treating patients with diabetes and other endocrine disorders. Dr. Masharani is a co-investigator on a number of diabetes studies and a member of the islet transplantation team. In the type 2 diabetes arena, he is currently researching the effects of depression and stress on glucose control. He is also exploring how a hunter gatherer (“Paleo”) diet compares to an American Diabetes Association recommended diet in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Michael McManus, PhD: Genetics Research
The Vincent and Stella Coates Endowed Chair in Diabetes Research, Dr. McManus focuses on the genetic basis of diseases such as diabetes by studying microRNAs, the tiny “switches” that control most of the genes in the body. He has developed a powerful method to simultaneously create thousands of these custom-tailored microRNAs at a faster rate and minimal cost. His group is at the center of the Diabetes Center, where he brings cutting-edge technologies to identify the mechanisms of pancreatic beta cell function and cures for diabetes.

Ari Molofsky, MD, PhD: Immunology and Inflammation/Obesity/Metabolism Research          Dr. Molofsky's research focuses on type 2 immune cells in metabolic health and disease, where he helped define a protective type 2 immune "module" in adipose tissue. His lab seeks to understand the metabolic regulation and function of tissue innate lymphoid cells and regulatory T cells in models of infection, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. In addition to his research activities, Dr. Molofsky is a practicing clinical pathologist with a focus on clinical immunology and flow cytometry. 

Martha Nolte Kennedy, MD: Diabetes Teaching Center Medical Director
Dr. Nolte Kennedy is the medical director of the UCSF Diabetes Teaching Center. She is also co-director of the diabetes insulin pump clinic and co-assistant director of the diabetes clinics. Since 1994, Dr. Nolte Kennedy has split her time between patient care, research trials, and student education and training. She has conducted trials examining the safety and clinical effect of novel therapies to treat diabetes and prevent complications.

Andrew Posselt, MD: Islet and Pancreas Transplant Research, Immunology Research
Dr. Posselt heads the Pancreatic Islet Transplantation Program and is co-director of the Bariatric Surgery Center.  He specializes in adult and pediatric kidney, liver, and pancreas transplantation as well as laparoscopic and open bariatric surgery. In addition to caring for patients, he is involved in research to investigate islet cell transplantation, mechanisms of allograft rejection and tolerance, and the metabolic and biochemical consequences of bariatric surgery.

Srinath Sanda, MD: Immunology Research, Clinical Trials Research
Dr. Sanda, the Jeffrey and Karen Peterson Family Foundation Chair in Diabetes Translational and Clinical Research, is responsible for enhancing translational immunology research into the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes and caring for patients in diabetes clinical trials (including immune intervention and artificial pancreas studies). His research interests center on the role of the immune system in pediatric diabetes, as well as the genetic factors influencing insulin secretion in pediatric diabetes.

Stuart Smith, PhD: Beta Cell/Stem Cell Research
Dr. Stuart’s work focuses on genes that are important for the development and maintenance of pancreatic cell types. If we can understand how these genes function, we may ultimately be able to generate new insulin producing cells for transplantation into diabetic patients. The Rfx6 gene was recently identified and determined to be important for insulin production in mice and humans. 

Julie Sneddon, PhD: Beta Cell/Stem Cell Research
The primary focus of Dr. Sneddon’s research is the niche in pancreatic development and type 1 diabetes. Her team employs the tools of stem cell biology, developmental biology, genomics, and tissue engineering. Dr. Sneddon’s laboratory studies the underlying biology of the cellular microenvironment, including the cellular diversity and lineage relationships of the non-epithelial compartment of the pancreas in the context of organogenesis, adult organ function, and disease.

Peter Stock, MD, PhD: Islet and Pancreas Transplant Research, Immunology Research
Dr. Stock is director of the Pancreas Transplantation Program and co-director of the Islet Transplantation Program at UCSF. His current research interests include mechanisms of allograft rejection, novel anti-rejection therapies, and pancreatic islet cell transplantation. He is a principal investigator on a Diabetes Center initiative funded by CIRM to transition stem cell-derived beta cells from the laboratory to a clinical trial. He is also the principal investigator on an NIH study to determine the safety and efficacy of solid organ transplantation in HIV positive recipients.

Qizhi Tang, PhD: Immunology Research
Dr. Tang is the director of the Transplantation Research Laboratory. She focuses on immune regulation in type 1 diabetes, regulatory T cell-based therapies for islet transplantation, and optimization of beta cell replacement therapy. The common goal of her various research projects is to develop new therapies for diabetes prevention and to improve beta cell replacement.

Christian Vaisse, MD, PhD: Inflammation/Obesity/Metabolism Research
The Vera M. Long Endowed Chair in Diabetes Research, Dr. Vaisse is focused on identifying genetic defects implicated in the onset and progression of multi-factorial metabolic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. His research combines human genetic approaches with molecular biology, biochemistry, and animal studies. He is particularly interested in the weight-regulating hormone, leptin, and its effects on the brain.

Allison Xu, PhD: Inflammation/Obesity/Metabolism Research
Dr. Xu, the Joseph & Vera Long Foundation Endowed Professor in Diabetes and Obesity, is focused on understanding how the central nervous system regulates body weight, glucose homeostasis, and hepatic lipid metabolism. She seeks to shed new light on how the hormones leptin and insulin enter the brain and act on specific hypothalamic neurons to coordinate whole-body energy metabolism. Through her research, Dr. Xu hopes to identify new therapies to prevent and/or treat obesity and type 2 diabetes.