Research Assistant Professor, Nutrition, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Millions of diabetics suffer an extremely poor quality of life due to complications of their disease. The challenge is in finding a cure. Progress is being made, with many routine and experimental treatment options available. One promising experimental approach is pancreatic islet cell transplantation. Islet cells are the cells in the pancreas that regulate blood sugar levels by secreting insulin. Type I diabetics are lacking this mechanism due to destruction of their own islet cells by an auto-immune response. Islet transplantation involves the removal of healthy islet cells from a deceased donor for transplantation into a diabetic recipient with the goal of providing the required insulin response to control blood sugars. There are still many obstacles to overcome before this procedure can become routine. With potential demand greatly exceeding the supply of available donor tissue, beta islet cell expansion and alternative sources of creating insulin producing cells are critical areas of research. Current activities in my lab are concentrated on these areas with particular focus on protecting islet cells after transplantation, enhancing the insulin secretory capabilities of isolated islets and investigating methodology to stimulate expansion and proliferation of beta islet cells in culture and in vivo.

Experience

  • –present
    Research Assistant Professor, Nutrition, University of Massachusetts Amherst