Erica Cai, PhD

Assistant Investigator

Joined the IBRI in April 2021

Erica Cai

Erica Cai, PhD, is a biologist who focuses on beta cell protection and diabetes prevention. Her ultimate research goal is to better understand diseases and help to improve patients’ quality of life.

In addition to her role at the Lilly Diabetes Center of Excellence at the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute (IBRI), she also is a member of the Indiana University School of Medicine’s Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases.

Prior to joining the IBRI, Cai was an instructor in medicine at the Harvard Medical School. She worked in the laboratory of Dr. Peng Yi and the CRISPR screen core facility at the Joslin Diabetes Center. Her research projects used a multidisciplinary approach to investigate beta cell physiology, including cell regeneration, cell function, stress response and autoimmune protection.

She was trained by Dr. Minna Woo at the University of Toronto, Canada and her research led to publications in peer-reviewed international journals, including Nature Metabolism, Cell Metabolism, PNAS, Diabetes and others. For a full list of Cai's published research, click here.

Cai was born in Taiwan, studied in Canada and works in the US. She enjoys travel, movies, music, hiking and cooking.

Areas of Expertise

  • Beta cell immunogenicity
  • CRISPR technology
  • Gene editing
  • Integrated stress response
  • Islet biology
  • Molecular cloning and plasmid design
  • Type 1 and 2 diabetes
  • Viral production and delivery


  • Doctor of Philosophy (Medical Science), University of Toronto, 2014
  • Master of Science (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), National Taiwan University, 2008
  • Bachelor of Science (Medical Technology), Taipei Medical University, 2006

Awards & Certifications

  • ALPCO’s Young Investigator Award, 2020
  • NIH Training Grant T32, 2019
  • Mary K. Iacocca Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2018
  • Mary K. Iacocca Junior Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2015
  • Canadian Diabetes Association Doctoral Student Research Award, 2011
  • Banting and Best Diabetes Centre Annual Trainee Award, 2011, 2013, 2014

Honorary Societies

  • American Diabetes Association
  • The Endocrine Society
  • European Association of the Study of Diabetes