​​​​​​​​News Archives​​​​​

Diabetes in a Dish: With NIH Grant, UCSD Researchers Hope to Build Bits of Miniature Pancreas   

Maike Sander 5_2014.jpegOctober 1, 2014 -- Although type 1 diabetes can be controlled with insulin injections and lifestyle modifications, major advances in treating the disease have not been made in more than two decades and there remain fundamental gaps in what is understood about its causes and how to halt its progression.

With a 5-year, $4-million grant from the National Institutes of Health, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and bioengineers at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, with colleagues at UC Irvine and Washington University in St. Louis hope to change this. 

The team’s goal is to bioengineer a miniature pancreas in a dish, not the whole pancreas but the organ’s irregularly shaped patches – called Islets of Langerhans – that regulate the body’s blood sugar levels.

"The bottleneck to new cures for type 1 diabetes is that we don't have a way to study human beta cells outside of the human body," said Maike Sander, MD, professor in the departments of Pediatrics and Cellular and Molecular Medicine and director of the Pediatric Diabetes Research Center at UC San Diego and Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego. "If we are successful, we will for the first time be able to study the events that trigger beta cell destruction."  Read more​

First-ever Clinical Trial to Test Safety of Stem Cell-Derived Therapy for Type 1 Diabetes

September 9, 2014 -- The Pediatric Diabetes Research Center is very excited about the launch of the first stem cell clinical trial for patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D).  Researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine in partnership with ViaCyte, Inc. will assess the basic safety of a therapy in which specially encapsulated stem cell-derived cells are implanted under the skin of patients.  It is anticipated that these cells will mature into pancreatic beta cells capable of producing insulin. News Release​

The Fall 2014 Issue of the PDRC Newsletter​

FAll2014 PDRCNewsletter.png
PDRC Newsletter_Fall 2014 pdf

Maike Sander Awarded Grant to Identify Mechanisms for Deriving Functional Beta Cells from Stem Cells

March 7, 2014 --  Director, Dr. Maike Sander was awarded $1.161 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for her proposal to define fundamental mechanisms that underlie the production of human pancreas cells and advance the development of stem cell-based therapies for diabetes. Diabetes is characterized by insulin deficiency due to destruction and/or malfunction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Diabetic patients would benefit tremendously from the availability of transplantable replacement beta cells produced from stem cells. Despite some progress, it is currently not possible to produce functional beta cells from stem cells. 

Dr. Sander's research proposes to identify mechanisms by which stem cell-derived precursors acquire the ability to develop into beta cells. Knowledge gained from this proposal will have several important applications: 1) It will help devise strategies to produce functional replacement beta cells from stem cells and 2) it will inform approaches aimed at directly converting other tissues, such as skin or liver, into insulin-producing cells. ​

Dr. Wenxian Fu joins the PDRC 

WenxianFu_formal.jpgNovember 1, 2013 -- The UC San Diego Pediatric Diabetes Research Center (PDRC) is pleased to welcome new faculty member, Wenxian Fu. Dr. Fu comes from Harvard University and studies the immuno-regulatory mechanisms of beta cell destruction in type 1 diabetes. His expertise will enhance synergy within the PDRC and provide opportunities for scientific collaboration in the area of type 1 diabetes research.​

Protein Essential for Maintaining Beta Cell Function Identified

September 12, 2013 -- Researchers at the Pediatric Diabetes Research Center (PDRC) at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have shown that the pancreatic protein Nkx6.1 – a beta-cell enriched transcription factor – is essential to maintaining the functional state of beta cells.

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by impaired insulin secretion by pancreatic beta cells in response to a rise in blood glucose levels. The study, to be published in September 26 edition of Cell Reports, shows that loss of Nkx6.1 in mice caused rapid onset diabetes.

UC San Diego scientists – led by PDRC director Maike Sander, MD, professor in the UCSD Departments of Pediatrics and Cellular and Molecular Medicine – studied the molecular mechanisms that underlie loss of beta cell functional properties, such as regulated insulin secretion, during the progression of type 2 diabetes. They concluded that – by impairing beta cell function – reduced Nkx6.1 levels, as seen in type 2 diabetes, could contribute to its pathogenesis.  Full article​​​

N​​ext Steps in Potential Stem Cell Therapy for Diabetes

January 10, 2013 -- Type 1 and type 2 diabetes results when beta cells in the pancreas fail to produce enough insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. One approach to treating diabetes is to stimulate regeneration of new beta cells.

There are currently two ways of generating endocrine cells (cell types, such as beta cells, that secrete hormones) from human embryonic stem cells, or hESCs: either generating the cells in vitro in culture or transplanting immature endocrine cell precursors into mice.

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, collaborating with scientists from San Diego-based biotech company ViaCyte, Inc., looked at the differences and similarities between these two types of hESC-derived endocrine cell populations and primary human endocrine cells, with the longer-term goal of developing new stem cell therapies for diabetes.

Full article​​​​

New Director and Associate Director of UC San Diego's Pediatric Diabetes Research Center

Maike Sander,MD

August 2012 -- Maike Sander, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Cellular and Molecular Medicine, was recently named Director of UC San Diego's Pediatric Diabetes Research Center, and Michael Gottschalk, MD, PhD, named Associate Director.

Sander has served as a physician-scientist for UC San Diego's Pediatric Diabetes Research Center (PDRC) since its inception. Launched in 2008, the Department of Pediatrics PDRC uniquely brings together top-ranked physicians and research scientists to investigate the causes and cure of childhood diabetes.

PDRC/Rady Children's Diabetes Clinic San Diego Family Conference

Children Clinic

April 15, 2012 -- The first joint PDRC/Rady Children's Diabetes Clinic San Diego Family Conference took place the afternoon of Sunday, April 15 at the Ronald McDonald House on the campus of Rady Children's Hospital. Registration is free but spaces are limited.

Featured presentations by Maike Sander, M.D. of the PDRC, Liana Abasca, Ph.D., MPH of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute, and Michael Gottschalk, M.D., Ph.D. of the PDRC & Rady Children's Hospital illuminated advances in type 1 diabetes research and insights in diabetes management. Breakout sessions offered practical, hands-on information about advanced insulin pumping, nutrition, and sports/exercise in diabetes.​

Maike Sander Awarded Grant from JDRF to Study Beta-Cell Replication Proteome

Maike Sander,MD

February 2, 2012 -- JDRF has awarded a two-year grant to PDRC professor Dr. Maike Sander to study "The proteome of beta-cell replication." In the course of the project, Dr. Sander believes her laboratory will identify tools that will in turn lead to drug targets for expanding beta-cells in the body. Dr. Sander believes new or replacement beta-cells will help a person with type 1 diabetes regain insulin independence.

Full article


January 20 - PDRC Researcher C.C. King appears on TuDiabetes.org to Discuss Stem Cells in Diabetes Research

Dr. C.C. King

Dr. C.C. King conducted an interactive discussion on TuDiabetes.org at January 20 on the use of stem cells in type 1 diabetes research. Dr. King will gave a brief overview of the differentiation of pancreatic progenitors from embryonic stem cells, and took questions from participants from all over the internet.

Check out the full video online at YouTube.

PDRC Receives Conference Grant from JDRF for 3rd Annual PDRC Research Symposium


The PDRC is delighted to announce it has been awarded a conference grant in support of the 3rd Annual PDRC Research Symposium, taking place January 27, 2012 at the Medical Education & Telemedicine building on the UC San Diego School of Medicine campus.

Each year, the symposium focuses on key themes in diabetes research. At this year's event, researchers from around the country will discuss stem cell differentiation, the generation of endocrine cells, and humanized mouse models.

World-renowned speakers include Bernhard Hering (University of Minnesota), Markus Grompe (Oregon Health & Science University), Olivia Kelly (ViaCyte) and many more. If you would like to attend, please RSVP directly to Ruth Padron by January 20.

PDRC Symposium Program - January 27, 2012

Alberto Hayek Appears Live on EsTuDiabetes.org

PDRC interim co-director Dr. Alberto Hayek chatted live with an international Spanish-speaking audience on December 2, about type 1 diabetes and the journey to a cure. The website EsTuDiabetes.org connects its members to one another and to experts like Dr. Hayek to successfully diminish the isolation of living with diabetes.

Anthony Montgomery Publishes Findings on Inhibitors promoting Endocrine Specification

Anthony Montgomery

July 1, 2015 -- PDRC faculty member Anthony Montgomery describes in the October issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry the impact of inhibitors of Src and focal adhesion kinase on endocrine specification. According to Dr. Montgomery, inhibition of the kinases boosts the yield of insulin-producing cells created from embryonic stem cells.

Full article


Maike Sander Receives More than $2M From Beta Cell Biology Consortium for Transformative Collaborative Project Awards

Maike Sander,MD

August 24, 2011 -- PDRC faculty member Maike Sander received three Transformative Collaborative Project Awards from the Beta Cell Biology Consortion, totaling more than $2,000,000 in support. She will lead one project translating research of enhancers into laboratory and clinical tools for beta cell differentiation; and serve as co-PI on projects building 3-D systems for cell differentiation and growth, and increasing the number of viable beta cell graft sites.

Full article


Steven Chessler Awarded Grant from JDRF International and Johnson & Johnson to Study Beta Cell Surface Proteins

Steven Chessler

PDRC faculty member Steven Chessler received grant support from JDRF International and Johnson & Johnson to further study therapeutic uses of proteins found on beta cell surfaces.

Full article

Merrie Mosedale Presents Showcase Poster at 71st Annual ADA Scientific Sessions

Merroe Mosedale

Graduate student Merrie Mosedale of the PDRC Chessler Lab took a few minutes to describe her showcase poster, presented at ADA Scientific Sessions, and talk a bit about the importance of posters in the scientific community.

Full article

C.C. King awarded $1.3 Million from California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM)

Dr. C.C. King

May 4, 2011 -- Dr. Charles (C.C.) King was one of eight UC San Diego researchers to receive prestigious basic biology awards from CIRM. Dr. King's lab will use the $1.3 million project funding to examine the role of microRNAs in stem cell differentiation, specifically in cells of endocrine lineage. This research will help researchers identify new ways to generate insulin-producing beta cells in the treatment of type 1 diabetes.

Full article


PDRC Leadership Council members Lisa and Steve Altman Donate $10 Million to State-of-the-Art Clinical Research Facility

Lisa & Steven Altman

March 3, 2011 -- The PDRC extends our profound thanks to Lisa and Steve Altman, members of the PDRC Leadership Council and long-time supporters of type 1 diabetes research for their $10 million gift to UC San Diego. The gift accelerates construction of a state-of-the-art, interdisciplinary research building which will facilitate bench to bedside discovery. The Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute is planned for completion in 2016.

Full article


Steven Chessler and Arthur Suckow Receive Patent for Beta-Cell Protein Markers

Steven Chessler

PDRC physician-scientist Dr. Steven Chessler and former PDRC graduate student and project scientist Dr. Arthur Suckow received a patent from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on processes that will help diagnose and treat diabetes. The processes relate directly to a unique set of proteins found on the surface of insulin-secreting beta cells, but not on other islet endocrine cells.

Full article

Jane Kim and Collaborators Discover Evolutionary Footprint of Type 2 Diabetes

Jane Kim

Findings of Dr. Jane Kim and colleagues are published in The FASEB Journal, revealing the impact of the CMAH gene on production of a specific sialic acid. Human inability to produce the sialic acid appears to make people more vulnerable to type 2 diabetes. Dr. Kim conducted experiments using mice first developed by UC San Diego evolutionary biologist Ajit Varki, MD, which feature the human-specific CMAH gene.

Full article


PDRC Physician-Scientist Maike Sander and colleagues publish Findings on Multipotent Progenitor Cell Differentiation

Maike Sander & colleague

Dr. Maike Sander and colleagues published a paper in the February 2011 issue of Development, "Sox9+ ductal cells are multipotent progenitors throughout development but do not produce new endocrine cells in the normal or injured adult pancreas." Published findings provide important insights into the origin, specification and regeneration of b-cells.



JDRF awards $649,075 to PDRC associate professor Ulupi Jhala for Epigenetics


Congratulations to Dr. Ulupi Jhala, whose research proposal has been selected by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for a three-year grant to study to study epigenetic regulation of the PDX1 gene.

Full article

2nd Annual PDRC Research Symposium on February 11 - UC San Diego Campus


Thanks to all who joined us on the UC San Diego campus for the 2nd Annual PDRC ​​Research Symposium. The all-day event featured talks from renowned immunologists, clinical translational scientists, beta cell scientists and more.



PDRC Physician-Scientist Susan Phillips co-authors review paper on adiponectin in Current Opinion in Pharmacology

Susan Philips, M.D.

December 2010 -- PDRC physician-scientist Susan Phillips, M.D. has co-authored a review paper titled "Mechanisms of adiponectin regulation and use as a pharmacological target," which appears in the December 2010 issue of Current Opinion in Pharmacology. Increasing the presence of adiponectin, an insulin-sensitizing and anti-inflammatory fat cell hormone, plays a key role in suppressing the hyperglycemic effect of Type 2 Diabetes. Dr. Phillips' review describes both the processes of adiponectin and its pharmacological potential.

Full article

UC san Diego researchers publish findings on Fox01 in the embo journal, November 2010

Jane Kim

November 2010 -- UC San Diego researchers, including PDRC physician-scientist Jane Kim, MD, have published findings in The EMBO Journal on transcriptional factor Fox01, a key regulator of cell metabolism, cell cycle and cell death. Understanding the role of Fox01 sheds light on the connection between obesity and insulin resistance, the dysfunction underlying type 2 diabetes.



UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox to receive National Medal of Science

Marye Anne Fox

The White House has chosen Chancellor Marye Anne Fox to receive the 2009 National Medal of Science, the highest honor conferred on scientists in the United States. Chancellor Fox will join nine other scientists in a ceremony later this year to receive the medal from President Obama. Chancellor Fox traverses a career that combines scientific achievement and transformations in opportunity. The Pediatric Diabetes Research Center is honored and gratified for her endorsement of our work and exceptional leadership. Full article.

Associate Professor Maike Sander awarded $4,950,000 grant from NIH/NIDDK's Beta Cell Biology Consortium.

Maike Sander,MD

Dr. Maike Sander, physician-scientist for the PDRC and leading UC San Diego Stem Cell Program researcher, will lead a team of domestic and international collaborators to create insuin-producing beta-cells from patient cells. The prestigious $4,950,000 grant will be shared by Karl Willert of the UC San Diego Stem Cell program, and exemplifies the scientific community's commitment to using stem cells as a powerful tool in the treatment of type 1 diabetes. For more, visit UC San Diego's Department of Pediatrics.

Full article

Q&A with Interim Co-Director of PDRC, Dr. Alberto Hayek

Dr. Alberto Hayek

Dr. Hayek discusses the evolution of beta cell study, the role of the PDRC in San Diego and beyond, and more.

Full article



UC San Diego professor David Gough to develop extended use implanted glucose sensor

David Gough

Dr. David Gough plans to develop an extended use glucose monitor through biotech company GlySensFull article.



Q&A with PDRC Leadership Council Chair David Winkler

David Winkler

David Winkler discusses living with type 1 diabetes for more than 50 years, his dedication to finding a cure, and the potential of the PDRC.

Full article



Findings of associate professor Jianhua Shao and colleagues published in the July issue of Endocrinology

Jianhua Shao

June 2010 -- Dr. Jianhua Shao and colleagues present findings in Endocrinology from a study investigating the mechanisms underlying impaired adipose lipolysis, "B56/Protein Phosphatase 2A Inhibits Adipose Lipolysis in High-Fat Diet-Induced Obese Mice."



PDRC's Merrie Mosedale awarded travel grant to present at EASD Annual Meeting in Stockholm

Merrie Mosedale

The PDRC's Merrie Mosedale, a graduate student in the lab of Dr. Steven Chessler, has been awarded a travel grant to present on "The role of neurexins in the exocytosis of insulin granules from beta cells" at the 46th European Association for the Study of Diabetes Annual Meeting held in Stockholm from September 20-24, 2010.


Diabetes Discourse

November 29, 2010 -- PDRC interim co-director Dr. Alberto Hayek appears as the featured guest of Diabetes Discourse, a weekly program on type 1 and type 2 diabetes aired on ReachMD. Features discussion on current priorities of the PDRC, our vision, and critical innovations in diabetes discovery.

"Pediatric Diabetes Research"

hosted by Janice Baker, CDE, Taking Control of Your Diabetes

Science Daily

November 3, 2010 -- Transcription factor Fox01 findings of UC San Diego researchers, including PDRC physician-scientist Jane Kim, MD, discussed. Explains the role of Fox01 in exacerbating chronic inflammation in cases of obesity, creating the conditions for insulin resistance, which underlies type 2 diabetes.

"Macrophage Protein Has Major Role in Inflammation"

JDRF San Diego

September 21, 2010 -- JDRF San Diego interviews PDRC faculty member Dr. C.C. King about his lab's efforts to create insulin-producing beta cells using stem cells.

"How do we create insulin-producing cells that are safe, stable and sustainable?"

by Barbara Donnell and Michele Huie, JDRF San Diego

The San Diego Union-Tribune

In a 7/28/10 article about UCSD professor Dr. David Gough's successful testing of an implantable glucose meter, PDRC faculty member Dr. Michael Gottschalk explains the importance of the discovery.

"San Diego company hopes monitor will revolutionize diabetes care,"
by Keith Darce, The San Diego Union-Tribune

A Sweet Life

July 19, 2010 -- Popular online diabetes magazine A Sweet Life profiles the PDRC, heralding its launch in San Diego's vibrant scientific and diabetes communities.

"Moving Minds Towards a Cure: The Pediatric Diabetes Research Center,"
by Karmel Allison, A Sweet Life

Jhala Lab's findings featured on cover of Journal of Biological Chemistry

JBC Cover

July 16, 2010 -- Dr. Ulupi Jhala and colleagues report how "Mixed Lineage Kinase-3 Stabilizes and Functionally Cooperates with TriTRIBBLES-3 to Compromise Mitochondrial Integrity in Cytokine-induced Death of Pancreatic Beta Cells" in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The journal cover features a haunting image of a beta cell under attack as photographed by the scientists.


Findings of PDRC faculty member Anthony Montgomery and colleagues published in Journal of Cellular Physiology

Dr. Anthony Montgomery

July 1, 2010 -- Dr. Anthony Montgomery and colleagues describe in an article published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology the impact of exposure of the extracellular matrix on cultured fetal beta-cells, causing associated declines in insulin gene expression.

Full article



Chessler Lab's image capture of protein featured on cover of American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology & Metabolism

Chessler Cover

July 2010 -- Related to a paper originally published May 4, 2010, the Chessler Lab's image capture of adaptor protein-3 subunit β3B as detected in pancreatic islet β-cells shows the localization of β3B in rat pancreas sections.

Findings of Alberto Hayek Lab published in Stem Cells and Development

June 22, 2010 -- Scientists in Professor Alberto Hayek's lab and colleagues publish findings in Stem Cells and Development from miRNA expression profile comparisons to pluripotent hESCs (human embryonic stem cells) and DE (definitive endoderm), an early step in the pathway toward the pancreatic lineage

Findings of associate professor Maike Sander and colleagues published in Developmental Cell

June 15, 2010 -- Dr. Maike Sander and colleagues describe in an article published in Developmental Cell how the early fate choice of pancreatic progenitors between the endocrine and acinar cell lineage is restricted by cross-repressive interactions between the transcription factors Nkx6.1/Nkx6.2 (Nkx6) and Ptf1a. OK Cancel