Director: Lori Sussel, PhD
Professor of Pediatrics and Cell & Developmental Biology
Sissel and Findlow Stem Cell Chair
The BDC Research Division is striving to gain insight into the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes at the cellular and molecular level. A biomedical resource core facility assists the basic and clinical research by providing assays to monitor the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions and disease recurrence. These interventions are/will be based upon a mechanistic understanding of immune-based therapies and work synergistically with the basic investigation of T-cell function. One strength of the BDC is the breadth of work studying T-cell recognition and biology, genetics and the biology of inflammatory cytokine mediators. These studies are greatly strengthened by the unique clinical resource of ongoing studies of newborns from the general population and relatives of patients with type 1 diabetes who are evaluated prospectively for the development of the antibodies associated with type 1 diabetes and the development of clinical diabetes as well as the great number of new onset patients willing to participate in research (>300/yr). Ongoing trials implement antigen-specifictherapies, including the use of small molecules aimed at restoration of immune tolerance. A relatively new strength of the research division are studies aimed at understanding the role of the pancreatic beta cell in T1D. There is growing evidence that the insulin-producing beta cell contributes to the onset and progression of disease. The BDC research division has expanded their expertise in this research area with the goal of identifying disease-predicting biomarkers that are secreted from the beta cell, developing novel methods to protect the beta cell from autoimmune destruction, and using human stem cell technologies to develop beta cell replacement therapies.