Research Summary

IBRI DIABETES CENTER (IDC)

Focus: The molecular basis of diabetes

Researchers in the IBRI Diabetes Center (IDC) focus on the molecular basis of diabetes and its complications, including mechanisms for beta cell regeneration. The IDC is highly collaborative and structured to support basic science research seeking to understand the disease while achieving technological breakthroughs in the way we diagnose, treat and manage diabetes in Indiana and beyond.

The IDC includes the lab of the center Director, Robert Considine, Ph.D., the Considine Lab, the Lilly Diabetes Center of Excellence (LDCE), a collaboration between Eli Lilly and Company, Indiana University School of Medicine and the IBRI, the Mastracci Lab and the Eizirik Lab.

The IDC aims to become a nexus of strategically aligned basic diabetes research in Indianapolis and the state. 

 

Lab Team

William Carter

William Carter

Research Associate, IBRI Diabetes Center

William Carter

William Carter

Research Associate, IBRI Diabetes Center

William (Bill) Carter joined the IBRI in July 2019 as a research associate in the IBRI Diabetes Center (IDC). In this role he is establishing a lab to facilitate various cell studies that will support the IDC’s regenerative  medicine program and other diabetes research efforts.

Before joining the IBRI and since 2014, he worked on his family’s Indiana farm where he was able to apply his extensive scientific and research background to crop genetics and animal breeding and nutrition. From 2003 to 2014, he served as manager of the Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI) Transgenic Core Facility (TGF) in Indianapolis where he ran multiple cell manipulation studies. He also served as the TGF’s research technician from 2001 to 2003.

Bill earned his B.S. and M.S., both in Biology from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.

Craig Connors

Craig Connors

Assistant Research Associate, IBRI Diabetes Center

Craig Connors

Craig Connors

Assistant Research Associate, IBRI Diabetes Center

Craig Connors is an assistant research associate in the Mastracci lab, in the IBRI Diabetes Center (IDC). In this role, he is assisting with the analysis of genetic mouse models, which will provide a greater understanding of beta cell growth and regeneration.

He joined the Mastracci lab at the IBRI in 2017 first as a zebrafish technician before moving into his current role. Zebrafish are a model system used in diabetes research, especially for the study of pancreas development given that they closely resemble human organogenesis. Prior to the IBRI and since 2017, he was operations manager at The Reef Aquarium Shop in Indianapolis where he cared for and treated inventory, quarantined new arrivals as needed and ensured proper balance of freshwater and saltwater systems. Before working at the aquarium shop and since 2015, he worked as a husbandry and lab technician at the Herman B. Wells Research Center at Indiana University School of Medicine where he also maintained zebrafish systems for diverse experiments.

He earned his B.S. in Biology from Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Robert Considine

Robert Considine, PhD

Professor of Medicine, Director, IBRI Diabetes Center

Robert Considine

Robert Considine, PhD

Professor of Medicine, Director, IBRI Diabetes Center

Robert V. Considine, Ph.D., joined the Division of Endocrinology at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, Ind., as an Assistant Professor in 1997 and was promoted to Professor in 2013. Prior to his appointment at the IU School of Medicine, he was on the faculty of the Department of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pa., where he had completed his doctoral training.

Dr. Considine’s research is focused on understanding the contribution of obesity to the development of diabetes and its complications. In early work, his lab made seminal observations about the function of the adipose tissue hormone leptin in humans.  More recently, the Considine lab has focused on the effects of bariatric surgery to alter gut hormone release and improve glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity.  In collaboration with David Kareken, Ph.D., at the IU School of Medicine, Dr. Considine is also utilizing neuroimaging techniques to understand the reward system response to food cues in human subjects.  

Dr. Considine is currently the Associate Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Diabetes Center at the IU School of Medicine, and oversees the Analyte Laboratory, which provides quantitation of adipokines, cytokines, gut peptides and hormones from human and animal samples.  He is also the Statewide Director for Endocrine and Reproductive Biology, a second-year course in the IU School of Medicine curriculum. 

Stephane Demine

Stephane Demine

Postdoctoral Fellow, IBRI Diabetes Center

Stephane Demine

Stephane Demine

Postdoctoral Fellow, IBRI Diabetes Center

Stephane Demine is a postdoctoral fellow working in the Lilly Diabetes Center of Excellence located here in the Diabetes Center. He works with Decio Eizirik, whom he partnered with at the University of Brussels.

While at the University of Brussels, he helped to identify new biomarkers suitable for the in vivo imaging of pancreatic beta cells, in collaboration with other universities (University of Mons, University of Brussels (VIB)) and industrial partners (Eurogentec). The most-advanced probe, a short camelid antibody targeting DPP6, was recently shown to accumulate in human beta cells grafted in mice and to correlate with the number of cells transplanted. The preclinical development of these probes is continuing at the IBRI Diabetes Center.

He also focused on the characterization of beta cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). He showed that human iPSC-derived beta cells respond to pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β + IFNγ and IFNα), by activating the same pathogenic processes as adult human primary beta cells. These cells thus represent a valuable tool for future research on the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. His future goal is to use this cell model to better understand how some single nucleotide polymorphisms are associated to type 1 diabetes developments.

Stephane obtained his PhD at the University of Namur in Belgium in 2016, where he worked extensively on the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms triggered by a mild mitochondrial uncoupling in white adipocytes, a new anti-obesity therapeutic approach.

Decio Eizirik

Decio Eizirik, MD, PhD

Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center

Decio Eizirik

Decio Eizirik, MD, PhD

Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center

Dr. Eizirik is Full Professor and Director of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) Center for Diabetes Research, Brussels, Belgium, and a member of the ULB medical faculty. He is also an Investigator for the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute (IBRI), Indianapolis.

He has published more than 350 full papers and reviews in peer-reviewed international journals and has received several national and international prizes, including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Diabetes Care Research Award in 1998; the “2012 Albert Renold Prize Lecture for Outstanding Achievements in Research on the Islets of Langerhans” awarded by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in 2012, and the “2013 Rumbough Award for outstanding achievements in type 1 diabetes research” awarded by the JDRF.

Dr. Eizirik is listed by the ISI Essential Science Indicators among the 1 percent most cited scientists in Clinical Medicine and Biology & Biochemistry, with an h-index of 78. He has served as Honorary (Scientific) Secretary of the EASD and as Deputy Editor of Diabetologia, the official journal of the EASD. His research focuses on the molecular mechanisms regulating insulitis and beta cell apoptosis in type 1 diabetes, pancreatic beta cell imaging, generation of beta cells from inducible pluripotent cells and on the search for novel approaches to prevent the progressive loss of beta cell mass in diabetes.

Parker Evans

Parker Evans

PhD Student, IBRI Diabetes Center

Parker Evans

Parker Evans

PhD Student, IBRI Diabetes Center

Parker Evans is a Bioenergetics and Exercise Science PhD student in Carol Witczak’s lab. He is working with Carol to complete his research for his PhD, which focuses on the subcellular localization of Glucose Transporter 6 (GLUT6) in skeletal muscle, as well as the role of GLUT6 in functional overload, a rodent model of resistance exercise.

Prior to joining the IBRI, Parker was a presenter at the FASEB Science Research Conference focused on The Regulation of Glucose Metabolism. His presentation centered around research about how female mice are protected against high fat diet-induced hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance but not hyperglycemia or glucose intolerance compared to males.

Parker obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, in 2017.

Jonathan Flak

Jonathan Flak

Assistant Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center

Jonathan Flak

Jonathan Flak

Assistant Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center

Jonathan Flak joined the IBRI in September 2019. Immediately upon arrival he began setting up his own lab within the IBRI Diabetes Center. In his lab, Jonathan will focus on studying the central nervous system’s regulation of glucose metabolism as it relates to diabetes.

More specifically, Jonathan will build on work he began at the University of Michigan that is aimed at distinguishing markers for ventromedial hypothalamic neurons involved in glycemic regulation from the rest of the nucleus, a known brain area critical to balancing glucose, to help determine new targets/brain systems that may prove important in future therapeutics. He plans to identify the downstream systems from these subsets of ventromedial hypothalamic neurons to establish the mechanisms of how the brain can tune metabolic function (e.g. energy expenditure, glucose uptake and glucose mobilization).

Prior to establishing his lab here at the IBRI, Jonathan worked in the lab of Martin Myers at the University of Michigan. This project was an outgrowth from his work in this lab, where he began using cre-dependent mouse models and viral systems to study leptin action in the brainstem periaqueductal gray and lateral parabrachial nuclei. His work with Prof. Myers led to research published in Nature Neuroscience and the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Jonathan received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biopsychology and Cognitive Sciences with honors from the University of Michigan in 2004. And, he obtained his PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Cincinnati in 2011.

David Johnson

David Johnson

Assistant Research Associate, IBRI Diabetes Center

David Johnson

David Johnson

Assistant Research Associate, IBRI Diabetes Center

David Johnson joined the IBRI in November 2019 as an assistant research associate in the IBRI Diabetes Center (IDC). In this role, he will work with Johnathan Flak to study the central nervous system’s regulation of glucose metabolism as it relates to diabetes.

David was previously a study technician at Covance Laboratories in Greenfield, IN, where he performed absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME), good laboratory practice and toxicology research studies. He also was responsible for the collection and documentation of pertinent data, including test material administration, sample collections and sample processing. While studying at Michigan State University, he served as a teaching assistant in the Charles Drew Science Scholars Program and was an undergraduate research intern in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

David received his bachelor’s degree in neuroscience – cognitive and computational from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich.

Teresa Mastracci

Teresa Mastracci, PhD

Assistant Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center

Teresa Mastracci

Teresa Mastracci, PhD

Assistant Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center

Teresa Mastracci, PhD, was hired as the first independent investigator to commence innovative scientific research at the Institute in the spring of 2016. Dr. Mastracci is a molecular and developmental biologist who comes to the IBRI from the Indiana University School of Medicine where she was an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research, and the Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases.

Mastracci completed her post-secondary education in Canada, earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Guelph, and her PhD from the University of Toronto at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute. Mastracci moved on to postdoctoral studies at Columbia University and the Naomi Berrie Center for Diabetes Research in New York. Here she merged her interests in developmental biology and human disease by studying how the pancreatic insulin-producing beta cell develops and functions in the normal and diabetic contexts. In 2007, Mastracci was named the Naomi Berrie Fellow in Diabetes Research and was granted research support by the Russell Berrie Foundation. Subsequently in 2010, she was awarded a prestigious Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), which continued to support her career development and research. Together these fellowships were instrumental in launching Mastracci’s career in the field of diabetes research, and as a result she was recruited to the Indiana University School of Medicine where she continued to grow her research.

Currently, Mastracci is focused on understanding how pathways that direct protein synthesis drive the development and differentiation of the hormone-producing islet cells in the pancreas. This research is funded in part by a prestigious Career Development Award from the JDRF. The research goal of Mastracci's lab is to discover pathways that can be exploited to create new treatments that provoke the regeneration of the insulin-producing beta cells that are dysfunctional or destroyed in people with diabetes.

In addition to her primary appointment at the IBRI, Mastracci holds an adjunct Assistant Professor faculty position in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Indiana University School of Medicine. In 2017, Mastracci was recognized as one of the Indianapolis Business Journal's Forty Under 40 rising stars.

View Publications

Mastracci Lab

Studying the signals that permit pancreas development and beta cell regeneration, with the goal to generate novel therapeutics for type 1 diabetes.

Learn more

Morgan Robertson

Morgan Robertson

Research Associate, IBRI Diabetes Center

Morgan Robertson

Morgan Robertson

Research Associate, IBRI Diabetes Center

Morgan Robertson is a research associate in the Mastracci Lab in the IBRI Diabetes Center (IDC). In this role he is responsible for projects in regenerative medicine, consisting primarily of developmental biology and genetic-based research using the zebrafish and mouse model systems.

He joined the Mastracci Lab at the IBRI in 2016. Before joining the IBRI and since 2012, he worked at the Wells Center for Pediatric Research at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. At the Wells Center, he worked as a lab manager, research technician and research analyst on diabetes and islet biology-related research.

He earned his B.A. in biological sciences from DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind.

View publications

Donalyn Scheuner

Donalyn Scheuner, PhD

Senior Staff Scientist, IBRI Diabetes Center

Donalyn Scheuner

Donalyn Scheuner, PhD

Senior Staff Scientist, IBRI Diabetes Center

Donalyn Scheuner, Ph.D., joined the IBRI in March 2019 as Senior Staff Scientist in the IBRI Diabetes Center. In this role, she is responsible for planning and coordinating the research on the mechanisms of pancreatic beta-cell dysfunction and death in type 1 diabetes, working in close collaboration with Dr. Decio Eizirik.

Prior to the IBRI and since 2017, she worked as a Scientific Consultant for DLS Consulting in Greenfield, IN, on a multisite NIH project grant. From 2009 to 2017, she served as Senior Scientist in Islet Biology at Lilly Research Laboratories in Indianapolis. From 2004 to 2009, Dr. Scheuner was a Research Specialist at Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. From 1995 to 2004, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at HHMI. And from 1994 to 1995, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow focusing on NIH Developmental Neurobiology and Neuroscience at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.

Dr. Scheuner has been responsible for more than three-dozen scientific publications and nearly the same number of presentations, and she has been recognized with numerous honors, awards and fellowships. She earned her Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, and her B.S. in Chemistry, also at Michigan.

Andrew Templin, PhD

Andrew Templin, PhD

Assistant Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center

Andrew Templin, PhD

Andrew Templin, PhD

Assistant Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center

Andrew Templin joined the IBRI Diabetes Center in June 2020. He also holds positions at the Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine and the Roudebush VA Medical Center. Andrew’s lab studies the relationship between islet inflammation and beta cell dysfunction and death in the setting of diabetes. Ultimately, the goal of the Templin Lab is to uncover novel mechanisms of diabetes pathogenesis that affect islet beta cell health, and to use this information to develop new treatments for diabetes.

Prior to joining the IBRI, Andrew served as an Acting Instructor of Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. During his time there, he studied the role of islet amyloidosis in islet inflammation and beta cell loss in collaboration with Dr. Steven Kahn. This collaboration led to publications in Diabetes, Diabetologia, and Diabetes Care, among others.

Andrew received his Bachelor of Science degree from IU in 2006, during which time he was a member of the Hutton Honors College. After working and studying at Northwestern University in the Feinberg School of Medicine, Andrew returned to IU and obtained his PhD in Cellular and Integrative Physiology under the mentorship of Dr. Raghu Mirmira, graduating in 2014.

Andrew is a native Hoosier who enjoys travel, soccer, the Chicago Cubs and Golden Retrievers.

Carol Witczak

Carol Witczak

Associate Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center

Carol Witczak

Carol Witczak

Associate Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center

Carol Witczak joined the IBRI in December 2019 to establish a lab that will research the regulation of glucose transport in skeletal muscle. This research is vital to the Diabetes Center because while people with type 2 diabetes have decreased muscle glucose uptake in response to the hormone insulin, they have a normal ability to take up glucose in response to exercise. 

A specific focus of Carol’s research is resistance exercise training. She seeks to better understand the complex metabolic adaptations that occur in enlarging muscles, and how these adaptations could be exploited to develop new treatments for type 2 diabetes.

Prior to her arrival in Indiana she was an Associate Professor at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. At East Carolina University she focused on understanding the molecular and cellular factors that regulate muscle metabolism in both physiological and pathological conditions, including exercise, diabetes and cachexia.

Carol received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Molecular Biology from Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, in 1998. She obtained her PhD in Physiology from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, in 2003.