BME Ph.D. candidate awarded ALPCO’s Summer 2021 Diabetes Research Travel Grant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – ALPCO’s Summer 2021 Diabetes Research Travel Grant has been awarded to Mollie Huber, a fourth year PhD candidate in the Biomedical Sciences program at the University of Florida.

Mollie’s novel research utilizes live human and mouse pancreatic tissue slices to study the genuine islet microenvironment in autoimmune Type 1 Diabetes. Her work seeks to address knowledge gaps about how the early stages of diabetes autoimmunity affect islet cell function prior to beta cell loss.

Mollie is developing methods to use live human and mouse pancreas slices to understand the pathogenic process that occurs during diabetes. In addition to evaluating islet function, she has also developed methods for identifying T cells as well as the antigens these immune cells recognize in the slices from donors with diabetes.

The Phelps and Mathews labs were the first to visualize live and functional human insulitis and Mollie has since made additional insulitis observations. The methods she developed will allow her to measure islet function in the context of insulitis (the hallmark pathological lesion of Type 1 diabetes). A full detailing of islet function/dysfunction when insulitis is present will allow for the development of therapies to promote beta cell function as well as those that prevent islet dysfunction.

Mollie’s studies are poised to provide translational information regarding how human islets lose function during the early asymptomatic phase of Type 1 diabetes as well as the mechanisms that drive the dysfunction. The travel award will allow Mollie to present her work at a relevant diabetes conference.

Related publication: Huber MK, et al. Observing Islet Function and Islet-Immune Cell Interactions in Live Pancreatic Tissue Slices. J Vis Exp. 2021 Apr 12;(170). doi: 10.3791/62207. PMID: 33900291.   

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