Assistant Investigators Andrew Templin, PhD, Michael Kalwat, PhD, and Li Zhang, MD, PhD, from the IBRI’s Lilly Diabetes Center of Excellence.
In 2020, we established three new labs that are led by assistant investigators Andrew Templin, Michael Kalwat and Li Zhang. These labs are part of the IBRI Diabetes Center, which is led by Decio Eizirik, MD, PhD, and Robert Considine, PhD, and are in addition to the Flak Lab.
The Templin Lab focuses on understanding molecular mechanisms that underlie the relationship between islet immune responses and beta cell dysfunction and death in the setting of diabetes. Dr. Templin and his team place emphasis on the concept that beta cell intrinsic properties are central drivers of islet inflammation and immune responses, and together these promote the progressive beta cell dysfunction and loss that lead to diabetes.
The Kalwat Lab is investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying pancreatic islet beta cell function in health and in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Dr. Kalwat’s team uses a combination of approaches including small molecule and genetic high-throughput screening, as well as genetically-encoded biosensors to gain knowledge about beta cell function. Identifying new pathways and targets is necessary to develop therapeutics that protect and restore the function of these cells in diabetes.
The Zhang Lab is researching the pathogenesis of islet autoimmunity and antigen-specific immune interventions for treating type 1 diabetes (T1D). Over the last decade, Dr. Zhang and her collaborators have worked to understand the pathogenesis of T1D and explored an effective immune intervention to halt or postpone the development of the disease using spontaneous diabetic mouse models. The Zhang Lab will continue to identify more advanced antibody and cell therapies to benefit T1D patients and high-risk individuals.