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Sally C. Kent, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, The George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Term Chair in Diabetes, UMass Chan Medical School, Investigator at the JDRF Center of Excellence in New England 


Lab Focus

The main focus of our lab is to understand how T cells are destroying the pancreatic islet beta cells, the producers of insulin, in human type 1 diabetes (T1D) by examining these immune cells directly from the source of pathology in human T1D, the islets.

As an immunologist, I want to understand why the immune system attacks and destroys self-tissues. I trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. David W. Scott (then at the University of Rochester) and as a postdoctoral fellow and later as an Instructor and then as an Assistant Professor in the laboratory of Dr. David A. Hafler in the Center for Neurological Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. In this environment, I was fortunate to receive training in human autoimmune disease research, concentrating on the T cell autoreactive T cell response in multiple sclerosis and T1D.

Research Focus

My research focus is in the area of the autoimmune response in human T1D: in particular, T cell responses in the periphery, in spleen and pancreatic lymph nodes and in islet-infiltrating lymphocytes from subjects with T1D, at-risk for T1D and from controls.

Recently, my laboratory identified that there is a broad repertoire of autoreactive T cells that infiltrate the islets in humans with T1D, including newly described modified targets. This research uncovered new information on how the autoreactive T cells target the beta cells in islets, and will contribute to the design of therapies for people living with T1D.


B.S. Biology
Union College, Schenectady, NY
Ph.D. Microbiology and Immunology
Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, IL
Postdoctoral Fellowships
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY
Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Honors and Awards

2018: Pioneer Award, Network of Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes (nPOD)
2016: Champion of the nPOD Collaborative Spirit Award
2015:  Young Investigator Scientific Achievement Award, The 15th Annual Rachmiel Levine Diabetes and Obesity Symposium
2015 - present: Co-chair, Immunology of Diabetes Society T Cell Workshop
2014 - present: Group Leader, nPOD Autoimmunity Working Group
2012 - 2016: Task Leader, nPOD Viral Working Group
2011: Department of Medicine Recognition Award, UMass Chan Medical School
2010:  Harvard Catalyst InnoCentive Award, Harvard University
2008: Mary Jane Kugel Award, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation