Blood test tubes in centrifuge Plasma preparation in medical laboratory

How We're Advancing Care

The Islet Cell And Regenerative Biology Section seeks to understand how regenerative and developmental biology can be applied to repair or replace tissues that are damaged by diabetes, ranging from the pancreatic beta cell to tissues that are subject to complications.

This focus extends to understanding how diabetes and the aging process influence the development and function of organs and tissues. Several laboratories focus on studying beta cells, their initial developmental specification, how they can be regenerated, and how they might be replaced through stem-cell or induced-pluripotent (iPS) cell technologies. 

Other researchers study the functions of differentiated islet cells, with a particular focus on understanding mechanisms governing beta cell proliferation and survival.

Another major interest is the aging process, how it affects stem cells and developed tissues, and how it can be slowed to promote healthy aging and prevent chronic disease. Finally, investigators study basic principles of stem cell pluripotency and cell development of importance in diabetes.

  • Transplanted insulin-producing cells, and strategies for beta cell maturation and reprogramming. Nat Med 2016, Nat Biotechnol 2015, 2016, J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2015
  • The circulating protein SerpinB1 promotes beta cell proliferation. Cell Metabolism 2016
  • Identification of extracellular matrix remodeling and lipid signals as key mechanisms that slow tissue degeneration in aging. Nature 2015, eLIfe 2015
  • Reversal of a genetic disease through in vivo somatic gene editing. Science 2016

Section Members

Keith Blackwell
Keith Blackwell, MD, PhD
Senior Investigator
Section Head, Islet Cell and Regenerative Biology
Acting Section Head, Immunobiology
Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School
Susan Bonner-Weir
Susan Bonner-Weir, PhD
Senior Investigator and Wellness Foundation Professor
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Mary Loeken
Mary Loeken, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Albert Hwa
Albert Hwa, PhD
Operations Director, Center for Cell-based Therapy for Diabetes
Lecturer in Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Rohit Kulkarni, MD, PhD
Rohit Kulkarni, MD, PhD
Senior Investigator and Margaret A Congleton Professor
Section Head, Islet Cell and Regenerative Biology
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Gordon Weir, MD
Gordon Weir, MD
Senior Staff Physician
Senior Investigator
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Cristina Aguayo-Mazzucato
Cristina Aguayo-Mazzucato, PhD, MD
Assistant Investigator
Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School
Aleksandar Kostic
Aleksandar Kostic, PhD
Assistant Investigator
Associate Director, Animal Physiology Core
Assistant Professor of Microbiology, Harvard Medical School
Dr. Amy Wagers
Amy Wagers, PhD
Senior Investigator
Director, Flow Cytometry Core
Professor Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Harvard Medical School
Peng Yi
Peng Yi, PhD
Assistant Investigator
Co-Director, Genome Editing Core
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Our researchers are in pursuit of a diabetes cure that will transform millions of lives. Help us help the ones you love. Give today.