ABOUT THE LAB
Our lab works in the area of Endocrinology and Metabolic Disease with a focus on Type 1 Diabetes.
What is Type 1 Diabetes?
Type 1 Diabetes is the form of the disease caused by a tissue-specific autoimmune disorder. The immune system mistakenly kills off insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, leading to chronic insulin deficiency. This form of the disease differs significantly from the more common Type 2 Diabetes, where beta cells become overworked, exhausted and eventually fail due to insulin resistance and metabolic stress.
Why Type 1 Diabetes?
Insulin administration is required for people with Type 1 Diabetes, but this does not cure the disease. Thus Type 1 Diabetes remains an underappreciated global health concern. As of 2017, there are an estimated 1.25 million people living with the disease in the U.S. alone. By 2050 the International Diabetes Federation estimates this will increase to about 5 million. We still do not understand the fundamental mechanisms of how this disease develops or how to prevent or cure it. The disease is most often diagnosed in children and adolescents and unlike Type 2 Diabetes, cannot be managed or prevented by diet and exercise.
We strive to discover fundamental biological and pathological mechanisms operating in pancreatic beta cells and immune cells and translate this knowledge into new approaches to solving Type 1 Diabetes and other metabolic diseases. This builds upon a seminal discovery by Dr. Thompson's postdoctoral work of a new stress response pathway in beta cells that may hold promise for preventing Type 1 Diabetes.