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Michael A. Brehm, PhD

Principal Investigator 

Associate Professor of Molecular Medicine, Associate Director of the Diabetes Center of Excellence & Co-Director of the Humanized Mouse Core Facility at UMass Chan Medical School, Investigator at the JDRF Center of Excellence in New England

The main focus of our lab is to understand the biology of how human insulin-secreting beta cells die during the development of type 1 diabetes and how a human immune system mediates the destruction of human beta cells in vivo.

Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) Research 

Investigating human immune responses, both how to turn them off for the treatment of T1D and autoimmunity, as well as using the same pathways to turn the immune response on for cancer treatment. Our unique humanized mice allow us to investigate these approaches to downregulate and activate the human immune system. We study and dissect mechanisms important in human immune response, but that are difficult to study directly in humans. 


Investigating Human Cells

The Brehm lab is working to understand how and why:

  • Immune systems target and kill human beta cells in vivo
  • Beta cells replicate and regenerate in vivo
  • Islet-reactive cells develop in a human diabetes-susceptible immune system
  • Beta cells resist being killed by a human immune system in vivo

Research in the Brehm lab is supported by funding including grants from JDRF and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Through multiple collaborations, we also utilize our humanized mice to study human regenerative medicine, immunity, human-specific infectious agents and cancer.  These studies have the potential to guide human clinical trials by determining the mechanisms by which therapeutic drugs, such as those based on targeting immune “checkpoints” that control how an immune system is turned off and on, will act directly on human immune systems, islets, and cancers in vivo, facilitating the direct translation of these agents into the clinic.


B.S. Microbiology
Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, Philadelphia, PA
Ph.D. Microbiology/Immunology
Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 
Postdoctoral Fellowship
Department of Pathology, UMass Chan Medical School

Honors and Awards

2019: NIH Special Emphasis Panel, ZAI1 JTS-I (M1) Collaborative Cross (CC) Mouse Model Generation and Discovery of Immunoregulatory Mechanisms
2011 - present: The American Association of Immunologist, member
2011 - present: The Journal of Immunology, Ad hoc reviewer
2017, 2019: NIH Grant Review: Hypersensitivity, Autoimmune, and Immune-mediated (HAI) Study Section, Temporary member
2018 - 2019: Charles A. King Trust Fellowships in Basic Science Research at The Medical Foundation 
2018: NIH, NIDDK Special Emphasis Panel, ZDK1 GRB (M1) 
2018: Stem Cell Reports, Ad hoc reviewer 2015, 2017: National Institutes of Health Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program, Discovery - Diabetes, DIS-DIA
2014 - 2017: Science Translational Medicine, Ad hoc reviewer
2016 - 2017: Diabetes UK, Ad Hoc Reviewer
2016: Nature Methods, Ad hoc reviewer
2010 - 2014: JDRF Training Grants Review Study Section
2014: Early Career Reviewer (ECR) program at the Center for Scientific Review (CSR)