Leveraging resources to solve big problems

The IBRI has a proven ability to overcome organizational barriers to facilitate complex, multi-organizational projects. Institute researchers have ongoing projects with a variety of partners, including:

Regeneration of beta cells in Type 1 diabetics

Teresa Mastracci, PhD, is performing research in the area of Type 1 diabetes (T1D) with a specific focus on beta cell regeneration. The progressive loss of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas characterizes all forms of diabetes. The daily administration of exogenous insulin is a viable and long-standing therapy. However, research efforts are now aimed at generating therapeutics that can ultimately fix, not just treat, the beta cell loss. Mastracci is studying specific molecules that can be targeted by drugs to preserve or regenerate the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas of individuals suffering from T1D. This research is funded through a Career Development Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), recognizing Mastracci as a promising early career scientist. 

Learn more about the Mastracci Lab

Biomarker identification

In partnership with external collaborators from various universities, and utilizing resources from the Network of Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes (nPOD), the Integrated Islet Distribution Program (IIDP), and ongoing clinical trials at Indiana University School of Medicine, the goal of this study is to identify biomarkers of beta cell preservation and growth in humans.

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Understanding of public health in Indiana

IBRI worked with several government and non-profit health organizations to drive a rapid collaborative project to explore the available information for improved understanding of public health in Indiana. This project provided insights into available regional data and facilitates planning on how to better access and integrate data in the future to drive evidence-based programs and measure success within the state. A follow-on collaboration is in planning that uses the results and insights from this completed project.

Learn more about the Applied Data Sciences Center

Digital device data collection

With the rapid emergence of digital devices and associated toolkits such as Apple’s ResearchKit for iOS, personal devices are expected to be a key factor in understanding non-biological factors as it relates to disease. To generate experience in how to best drive research and innovation with these devices, IBRI initiated a collaboration with one of its stakeholders and a small entrepreneurial company with experience in health-based applications to generate a platform that will allow research of clinical application of these devices and securely capture this data for analysis.

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Better understanding Type 2 diabetes

As shown by other research, Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) is a complex, multi-symptomatic metabolic disease with variability in the patient population related to disease progression, therapeutic response, or related complications. Working in partnership with another research institute and its available clinical information, IBRI is coordinating a project with multiple stakeholders to analyze this data to better understand the patient subgroups, related disease characteristics, and complications of patients with T2D. In a secondary effort based on the findings of this project, IBRI will work with its partners to analyze biological samples to identify potential new therapeutic targets or biomarkers related to the disease subtypes.

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Determining the Impact of Diabetes Progression

Cardiovascular incidents are the leading cause of death in people with type 2 diabetes.[1] But IBRI Research Fellow Michael Pugia, PhD, wants to change that.

Using samples from the Fairbanks Institute Tissue Core, Pugia is testing the accuracy of new diagnostic assays designed to detect acute inflammation, auto-immunity and insulin resistance in diabetics and determine their impact on disease progression. These changes in the immune system lead to tissue damage, which serve as an early indicator of cardiovascular disease.

Because the Fairbanks samples are linked to individuals’ electronic medical records, Pugia is able to test the blood samples given 10 years ago and then review the records over 20 years to determine how accurate his test is in predicting which patients would develop some form of cardiovascular disease over time.

Pugia hopes to provide a simple blood test that can accurately predict a person’s likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease so doctors can offer early intervention and improve long-term outcomes for those patients. His research is also leading to an antibody that might be used to prevent cardiovascular incidents from happening in these patients.

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