Dr. Angelo Calderone

Operating Grant 2011-2014
Montreal Heart Institute (Montréal, QC)

Dr. Calderone examined the impact of diabetes on the cardiac resident neural stem cell function during scar healing in the chemically damaged heart. This research will provide important insight into impaired wound healing and may provide new treatments for people living with diabetes.

Dr. Willeke De Haan

Post-Doctoral Fellowship 2011-2014
University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)

Supervisor

Dr. Michael R. Hayden

Dr. Willeke De Haan examined if changes in HDL “good” cholesterol and a transport protein (which moves things in and out of cells) affect beta cell survival, how they affect beta cells and how changes in HDL levels impact the development of diabetes. This research could contribute to the development of new strategies to prevent and treat diabetes.

Dr. Daniel J. Drucker

Operating Grant 2011-2014
Mount Sinai Hospital (Toronto, ON)

Activation of a receptor, called GPR119, stimulates the production of insulin, leading to improved regulation of blood glucose levels in the body. Dr. Drucker examined the role of this receptor and how it functions in mice with abnormal blood glucose levels and insulin resistance. This research helps improve the current understanding of how GPR119 works within the body and may provide insight into whether or not it could be a useful target for new therapies for type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Gary F. Lewis

Operating Grant 2011-2014
University Health Network (Toronto, ON)

In a series of four studies, Dr. Lewis showed how high fat levels in the blood, called free fatty acids, damage the pancreas. In the first, he assessed whether a medicine called Buphenyl is able to protect against the damaging effects of fat. In the second, he investigated whether an anti-inflammatory antibody, called XOMA 052, protects the pancreas against fatty acids. In the third, he examined how insulin itself affects the pancreas’ susceptibility to fatty acids. And, in the fourth, he studied the genetic influences that underlie this susceptibility. These studies help us understand what causes the pancreatic dysfunction that is typical of type 2 diabetes, and may identify potential new treatments that will counteract it.

Dr. Patrick E. MacDonald

Operating Grant 2011-2014
University of Alberta (Edmonton, AB)

Dr. Patrick MacDonald studied mechanisms inside the beta cell control the release of insulin. There is a specific pathway of signals in the cell that is thought to have an important role in short-term control of insulin release and in keeping beta cells alive and functioning in the long-term. Although this pathway is important, the nature of that role is unknown. During this grant, Dr. MacDonald studied all three forms of a specific enzyme to find out how they work to regulate how and when insulin is released. This research provided more information about what goes wrong in type 2 diabetes and may lead to new information about how to stop diabetes from developing.

Dr. André Marette

Operating Grant 2011-2014
Laval University (Ste-Foy, QC)

It is well known that long chain omega-3 (ω-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) consumption reduces the risk for type 2 diabetes. It was recently discovered that ω-3 PUFA are substrates for a new family of bioactive lipids known as resolvins, protectins and maresins. Dr. Marette studied the influence of these lipids on glucose and lipid metabolism. This research could lead to the discovery of previously unrecognized therapeutic targets for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Ms. Renjitha Pillai

Doctoral Student Research Award 2011-2014
University of Waterloo (Kitchener, ON)

Supervisors

Dr. Jamie W. Joseph and Dr. Brandan J. McConkey

Abnormalities or impairment in glucose stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) is one of the earliest detectable defects of type 2 diabetes. Ms. Pillai investigated the role of a certain gene (ARNT/HIF-1B) in the regulation of GSIS. This research helps expand our current knowledge on the mechanisms that regulate insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells. It also provides valuable information on the role of ARNT/HIF1B in regulating GSIS, which could be potentially used for developing new therapies for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Constantin Polychronakos

Operating Grant 2011-2014
The Montreal Children's Hospital (Montréal, QC)

Dr. Polychronakos aimed to identify the rare T-cells that carry a TCR (antibody-like molecule) that targets insulin in type 1 diabetes, and to determine the specific structure of those TCRs, as well as develop antibodies that specifically target the TCR of these T-cells. Such antibodies could potentially be used for new treatments to target and destroy the cells responsible for type 1 diabetes.

Dr. Ravi R. Retnakaran

Operating Grant 2011-2014
Mount Sinai Hospital (Toronto, ON)

Dr. Retnakaran examined the role of vitamin D in determining whether a woman gets diabetes in pregnancy (GDM) and whether she later develops type 2 diabetes in the years after delivery. If further research shows that low vitamin D is found to be related to GDM and type 2 diabetes in young women, then it may be possible to prevent these conditions by raising vitamin D levels.

Dr. Robert A. Screaton

Operating Grant 2011-2014
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (Ottawa, ON)

Beta cell failure in diabetes is still not well understood. The goal of Dr. Screaton’s research was to study the role of Sik2 (which Dr. Screaton’s team discovered is involved in beta cell proliferation and insulin secretion), by observing the effects of removing Sik2 from beta cells in mice. If we can better understand how proteins like Sik2 work in beta cells, we can find better ways of preventing type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Robert G. Tsushima

Operating Grant 2011-2014
York University (Toronto, ON)

Dr. Tsushima studied the effects of low cholesterol on beta cells and insulin release. This research may clarify the mechanism how lowering cholesterol by statin treatment may lead to the development of diabetes.

Dr. Dennis E. Vance

Operating Grant 2011-2014
University of Alberta (Edmonton, AB)

Our cells are enclosed by membranes. Membranes are made of a type of fats called phospholipids, and the main one of these is called PC (phosphatidylcholine). The liver makes PC through two different pathways, and previous research has shown that there is a direct link between one of these pathways and type 2 diabetes; mice that lack this pathway will not develop type 2 diabetes or obesity when fed a high fat diet. Dr. Dennis Vance and his team investigated how these mice are protected from type 2 diabetes and if this pathway could reduce the complications of type 1 diabetes. This research could lead to the development of a novel treatment for type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Rennian Wang

Operating Grant 2011-2014
The University of Western Ontario (London, ON)

Dr. Wang assessed whether ALDH1+ cells (a marker of cells that can turn into insulin-producing ones) in human pancreas are involved in forming the cells that produce insulin. This research could help in the development of more successful strategies for generating insulin- producing cells for the treatment of diabetes.

Ms. Lama Yamani

Doctoral Student Research Award 2011-2014
McGill University (Montréal, QC)

Supervisor

Dr. Louise Larose

Ms. Yamani investigated the significance of the interaction between the Nck and PERK proteins in the body’s ability to produce and respond to insulin. This research sheds light on mechanisms that control insulin production and biological actions related to glucose control. This enables us to learn more about the causes leading to the development of diabetes and open up avenues to design new therapeutic approaches to prevent and/or cure diabetes.

For more information on previously funded research projects, please contact research@diabetes.ca.

Click here to see the currently funded CDA research on the pathophysiology of diabetes.