A world leader in Diabetes research

Research

As Science Succeeds, Patients Benefit

For decades, UCSF has been a world leader in type 1 diabetes research and clinical trials, helping to increase the understanding of the fundamental mechanisms underlying the disease and pioneering therapies to treat it.

Type 1 Diabetes

The body's immune system is supposed to "tolerate" healthy cells and distinguish "self" from "non-self." Type 1 diabetes results when the immune system confuses “self” with “non-self” and commands immune cells to attack and destroy beta cells, the cells in the pancreas that produce the hormone insulin. Insulin is crucial because it helps to break down the sugar in your blood stream, converting it into the energy that your body’s muscles, brain, liver, and fat tissues need to function properly. When your immune system destroys your beta cells – rendering your body unable to produce enough insulin – sugar accumulates in your blood stream and you develop type 1 diabetes.
Our research team comprises globally renowned experts in the disciplines relevant to type 1 diabetes, including immunology and beta cell and stem cell research. We are intensely focused on converting laboratory bench research to the patient’s bedside as quickly as possible. Currently, our team is exploring novel ways to:
  • Prevent the onset of the clinical manifestation of the disease
  • Slow the progression of diabetes in the newly diagnosed period
  • Restore the body’s ability to produce insulin with pancreas and islet cell transplants and stem-cell based therapies
  • Recreate a healthy immune system that will not launch an attack against transplanted insulin-producing cells

Type 2 Diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes, your fat cells, liver, and muscles become progressively less sensitive to insulin–a process called “insulin resistance”–and your body cannot produce enough insulin to overcome this resistance. In other words, the insulin that your body makes works much less efficiently than that of a person who does not have diabetes.
Our research team in the Diabetes Center is shedding new light on the genetic and environmental causes of type 2 diabetes and identifying promising new therapeutic targets. The team’s investigations related to type 2 diabetes focus on pinpointing and better understanding:
  • Genes that control obesity and contribute to type 2 diabetes
  • Proteins that increase insulin resistance and impair glucose tolerance
  • The effect of molecular stress on beta cells in type 2 diabetes