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Research to Prevent and Cure Diabetes at UMass Medical School


Under the co-direction of Dale L. Greiner, PhD, and David M. Harlan, MD, the goal of the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence (DCOE) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School is to prevent and cure diabetes. Our DCOE research faculty is gaining new knowledge of the disease by studying human tissues and human cells inside of our unique biological models, which mimic the human immune system. Understanding what causes diabetes will allow us to develop effective therapies, and ultimately find the cure.

Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) Research

Using human immune cells and beta cells created from the stem cells of people living with type 1 diabetes, we can recreate that individual’s diabetes by inserting their human cells into our humanized mice to observe the cell interaction in real time to investigate the cause of the autoimmune attack.  

The first ever “humanized” mouse was developed by UMass Medical (DCOE) co-director Dale Greiner, in collaboration with The Jackson Laboratory. We're international leaders in the development and use of humanized mice, using the most advanced models in the world. Engrafting human tissues into our unique mice allows our scientists to directly observe the interactions and relationships between human immune cells and human insulin-producing beta cells. We're investigating why the immune cells are attacking the beta cells so that we can test preventative strategies and therapies.  LEARN MORE  

Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) Research

Our scientists are isolating and greatly expanding specialized “beige" fat cells, obtained from patients, which are now known to alleviate diabetes. This approach is complemented by exciting research to genetically modify these cells to further improve their therapeutic effects. This work has the potential to move into clinical trials and in the near future, have a major impact on T2D. We're also investigating beta cell proliferation and generating more insulin producing beta cells in humans to prevent and treat T2D.  LEARN MORE

Clinical Trials at UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence

Ongoing clinical trials at the UMass Memorial Medical Center, UMass Children's Medical Center, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, are focused on testing new treatment approaches designed to improve the quality of life of people living with diabetes.  LEARN MORE


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"The ultimate goal of our basic research is to uncover the clues required to prevent the disease for those at risk, and cure those already diagnosed."
 - David M. Harlan, MD