About the Center

There are hundreds of people who have been living for years free from needing insulin injections after receiving transplanted donor islets. While these results have restored blood-sugar management and significantly improved people’s quality of life, the current approach is available to a limited number of people and these individuals need to take immunosuppression drugs for the rest of their lives. Our ambition at Breakthrough T1D is to build on these advances so that the broader T1D community can benefit and remove the need for chronic immune suppression drugs.

Having developed a way to make an unlimited number of beta cells using stem cells and establishing the most advanced genome engineering tools and immunology expertise, the Breakthrough T1D Center of Excellence in New England will focus on the challenge of protecting these cells from the immune attacks that occur following transplantation.


These world-class researchers will:
  • Develop systems to examine what happens in the autoimmune attack at the cellular and molecular levels
  • Engineer a cell system that reproduces and amplifies the beta cell-to-immune cell interactions so that we can better assess the effectiveness of therapies
  • Identify the different subsets of immune cells that target beta cells
  • Explore new technologies, such as gene editing, to create beta cells that can evade immune attack

Research team leaders

Aaron J. Kowalski, Ph.D.
Breakthrough T1D
David M. Harlan, M.D.
UMass Chan Medical School
Sanjoy Dutta, Ph.D.
Breakthrough T1D
Esther Latres, Ph.D.
Breakthrough T1D

Team members

Michael A. Brehm, Ph.D.
UMass Chan Medical School
Ryan Flynn, MD, Ph.D.
Boston Children’s Hospital
Accalia Fu, Ph.D.
UMass Chan Medical School
Jason Gaglia, M.D., M.M.Sc.
Joslin Diabetes Center
Dale L. Greiner, Ph.D.
UMass Chan Medical School
Sally C. Kent, Ph.D.
UMass Chan Medical School
René Maehr, Ph.D.
UMass Chan Medical School
Sambra Redick, Ph.D.
UMass Chan Medical School Stem Cell Differentiation Core
Celia Schiffer, Ph.D.
UMass Chan Medical School
Mina Seedhom, Ph.D.
UMass Chan Medical School
Leonard Shultz, Ph.D.
The Jackson Laboratory
Jennifer Wang, M.D.
UMass Chan Medical School / UMass Memorial Health
Peng Yi, Ph.D.
Joslin Diabetes Center / Harvard Medical School
Nese Kurt Yilmaz, Ph.D.
UMass Chan Medical School
Xu Zhou, Ph.D.
Boston Children’s Hospital
The Breakthrough T1D Center of Excellence in New England excites me and gives me tremendous optimism because it brings together the brightest minds, along with the entire Breakthrough T1D ecosystem, with a laser-sharp focus on developing cures.”

John Cammett

Co-Founder of Realterm Global President/CEO and Co-Founding Partner, Aeroterm Seed Funder, Breakthrough T1D Center of Excellence in New England