The University of Michigan

Breakthrough T1D today launched a Center of Excellence at the University of Michigan, to expand the University’s already stellar Elizabeth Weiser Caswell Diabetes Institute to tackle some of the most critical challenges in diabetes research. The goal: To yield safer day-to-day management and improved health for people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) by developing a comprehensive understanding of T1D metabolism.

Current treatment strategies assume that blood sugar is the sole driver of short- and long-term complications, like low or high blood-sugar levels; eye, kidney, heart, and nerve diseases; and psychosocial stress. The University of Michigan team, however, has shown that protein and fat metabolism may play a role in the development of complications.

With $7.37 million from Breakthrough T1D and $6.5 million from the University of Michigan, over the next five years, scientists and clinicians will have the stability to engage in longer-term projects, with the ability to make meaningful advances in developing cures and improving the lives of people with T1D. The Center of Excellence will undertake four projects that will:

  • Determine the optimal metabolic environment for beta cell function in people who receive replacement therapy
  • Develop patient-specific profiles and advanced algorithms to guide tailored artificial pancreas technology to improve time-in-range and reduce low blood-sugar events
  • Identify predictive markers and therapeutic targets for T1D complications
  • Discover the relationship between metabolic profiles, brain function, and psychosocial stress, to minimize the burden of mental health complications in T1D

The Center brings together experts in the fields of eye, kidney, heart, and nerve diseases, transplantation, hypoglycemia, and engineering. Many of the scientists have received Breakthrough T1D early-career grants that prompted them to make T1D research the focus of their life’s work.

This is the second Center of Excellence launched by Breakthrough T1D, the first one in Northern California with Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco. The Northern California Center will focus on the interaction of immune cells with insulin-producing beta cells; generating islets and immune cells from stem cells for next-generation therapies; and developing ways to transplant insulin-producing cells into people with T1D without requiring immunosuppression.

To learn more, read our press release.