Dr. Patricia Brubaker

Operating Grant funded 2013-2016
University of Toronto (Toronto, ON)

Normally, an intestinal hormone called GLP-1 helps stimulate insulin release after eating. Dr. Brubaker wants to learn more about how this process is regulated and how GLP-1 release varies throughout the day and night time. This research may provide clues for the development of new diabetes treatments.

Dr. Alexandre Caron

Post-Doctoral Fellowship 2015-2018
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas, TX, USA)

Supervisor

Dr. Joel K. Elmquist

Dr. Caron’s research seeks to understand what’s happening in the brain when someone has obesity and type 2 diabetes. He is studying how a protein complex called mTORC1 perceives insulin (which decreases blood glucose) and leptin (which regulates fat storage) within the brain. Dr. Caron is investigating how the mTORC1 protein complex in specific brain cells coordinates leptin and insulin actions. This research may explain how mTORC1 could be involved in the development of, or affected by, type 2 diabetes, and the results could bring to light new considerations about the importance of a healthy brain in the context of type 2 diabetes.

Ms. Shiaoying Chang

Doctoral Student Research Award funded 2013-2016
Université de Montréal (Montréal, QC)

Supervisor

Dr. Shao-Ling Zhang

When a mother has diabetes during pregnancy, her baby has a higher risk of developing health problems later in life, including those related to diabetes. Ms. Chang is studying a specific enzyme to see if, and how, it protects these offspring against the increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney disease, which could have implications for future medications.

Dr. Robin Duncan

Operating Grant 2016-2018
University of Waterloo (Waterloo, ON)

Dr. Duncan and her team are studying the relationship between kidney fat accumulation (which happens with excess weight gain) and diabetes. Using mouse models, they are examining a signalling molecule from fatty kidneys that they believe may cause problems with how insulin is made and used in the body, how fat cells function and how fat is stored in the liver. She hopes the results from this research may provide key insights into curing both kidney disease and diabetes.

Dr. Brad Hoffman

Scholar Award 2013-2018
University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)

Dr. Hoffman is examining a protein, called Myt3, which plays an important role in how beta cells (the insulin-producing cells) respond to the immune attack that occurs in type 1 diabetes. By understanding how to protect Myt3, Dr. Hoffman believes his work could support beta cell function and bring researchers closer to a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Dr. Curtis Hughey

Post-Doctoral Fellowship 2014-2017
Vanderbilt University Medical Centre (Nashville, TN, USA)

Supervisor

Dr. David H. Wasserman

Dr. Hughey is studying the role of an enzyme in the liver, called AMPK, to find out how environmental factors (food, exercise) interact with energy-sensing genes to regulate metabolism. This study will help better understand the development of obesity and diabetes.

Dr. Frank Huynh

American Diabetes Association-Canadian Diabetes Association Joint Post-Doctoral Fellowship 2013-2016)
Duke University (Durham, NC)

Supervisor

Dr. Matthew D. Hirschey

Dr. Huynh is examining mitochondria, the energy-producing engines of our cells. He has found a certain enzyme that, when it does not work properly, can cause the mitochondria to stop functioning well and lead to obesity and diabetes. Dr. Huynh hopes that uncovering more about this process will allow researchers to find ways to prevent and reverse obesity and diabetes.

Dr. James D. Johnson

Operating Grant funded 2014-2017
University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)

Dr. Johnson is studying proteins in the body to understand how fatty acids (fats in the blood) kill the insulin-producing beta cells. This study may help identify ways to protect beta cells and provide insight into how and why obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Zia Khan

Operating Grant funded 2013-2016
University of Western Ontario (London, ON)

Dr. Khan is testing if having diabetes causes loss of stem cells circulating in the blood. Dr. Khan believes that people with diabetes are unable to repair injured blood vessels because of having fewer stem cells. He also wants to know more about how the stem cells of people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as well as those from people without diabetes, work. The outcomes of this research could lead to new treatments to restore stem cells and prevent complications of diabetes.

Dr. Cynthia Luk

Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award funded 2014-2017
University of Toronto (Toronto, ON)

Supervisor

Dr. Minna Woo

Dr. Luk is examining what role a protein called FAK plays in the regulation of blood glucose, insulin resistance and inflammation. This research will give new insights into the role that fat plays in healthy metabolism and in diabetes.

Dr. Francis Lynn

Operating Grant 2016-2018
University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)

Dr. Lynn wants to learn more about how insulin-producing beta cells read their genetic ‘blueprint’ in order to grow and function properly. His team will focus on a group of proteins, called the Mediator complex, in order to understand how it prevents diabetes when working properly. In the future, this research may help design more effective treatments for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Patrick MacDonald

Operating Grant funded 2014-2017
University of Alberta (Edmonton, AB)

Dr. MacDonald is studying how insulin-secreting islets within the pancreas respond to external messages, in the form of hormones and inflammatory signals, and how these are involved in diabetes. He wants to understand how the machinery within insulin-secreting cells responds to these cues. This research will provide knowledge on how current anti-diabetes drugs work, how new therapies might be created and will give new clues about how diabetes develops.

Dr. Melissa Page

Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award funded 2013-2016
University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)

Supervisor

Dr. James D. Johnson

Dr. Page wants to define the impact of small changes in circulating insulin on obesity, regulating blood glucose levels and lifespan. She is using a sophisticated mouse model to learn more about the processes that control human weight loss. She will define how lower levels of insulin cause weight loss, and she is exploring the links with the balance of cellular protein levels.

Dr. Ravi Retnakaran

Operating Grant 2016-2018
Mount Sinai Hospital (Toronto, ON)

Dr. Retnakaran wants to know if small amounts of fat in the liver (called fatty liver) are associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes in women who had diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes). His team is studying mothers who recently had gestational diabetes compared to those who did not and examining the role of liver fat in relation to changes that lead to type 2 diabetes. This study may identify fatty liver in this population as an early sign indicating an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and may provide a basis for intervention strategies to build upon to prevent diabetes in this group.

Mr. Paul Sabatini

Doctoral Student Research Award 2014-2017
University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)

Supervisor

Dr. Francis C. Lynn

Mr. Sabatini is studying a protein called Npas4, which may help protect the insulin-producing beta cells from damage and death. If Npas4 proves to be effective, it could be explored as a target for new diabetes therapies.

Dr. Robert A. Screaton

Operating Grant funded 2014-2017
Children's Hospital  of Eastern Ontario (Ottawa, ON)

Dr. Screaton is studying a protein called SIK2 in hopes of uncovering new information about what stops insulin from being made in the pancreas. This research could provide new knowledge on how to support insulin production for people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Nadeeja Wijesekara

Post-Doctoral Fellowship 2015-2018
University of Toronto (Toronto, ON)

Supervisor

Dr. Paul Fraser

Dr. Wijesekara hopes to provide new insight into the treatment of type 2 diabetes and/or Alzheimer's disease by studying mice that have both diseases. A certain type of protein, called amyloid, is widely believed to cause brain cell loss in patients with Alzheimer's and may lead to symptoms, including dementia. Amyloid deposits also occur in the pancreas of patients with type 2 diabetes, though more research needs to be done to understand the significance of amyloid in type 2 diabetes. Dr. Wijesekara believes that higher amounts of amyloid in the body play a central role in the development of insulin resistance, which leads to changes in the nervous system and the periphery. She is examining changes to insulin sensitivity and the nervous system in these mice and is immunizing them against amyloid. With these results, she will assess if the immunization leads to better blood glucose regulation and increased brain function. These studies may steer Alzheimer's and type 2 diabetes research in a new direction that could be beneficial to a wider group of patients affected by either disease.

Dr. Daniel A. Winer

Clinician Scientist Award 2012-2017
University Health Network (Toronto, ON)

Dr. Winer and his team are assessing if it is possible to block certain cells (a subtype of B cells) and molecules (called antibodies) in the immune system to reduce a type of inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation is known to be a major cause of insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. This research could provide insight into new ways to diagnose and treat insulin resistance, obesity-related inflammation and type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Daniel A. Winer

Operating Grant 2016-2018
University Health Network (Toronto, ON)

Dr. Winer and his team want to know more about how a type of immune system cell (called B cells) promotes fat inflammation, which can lead to diabetes. Using mouse models, they are studying how insulin, itself, and proteins from the immune system, cause B cells to be more dangerous. The results of this study may lead to new ways to diagnose and treat diabetes, and may provide insight into future vaccine development for the prevention of diabetes.