Meet Our Researchers
Dr. Joseph Cafazzo
Dr. Cafazzo, an associate professor at University of Toronto and executive director of biomedical engineering at the University Health Network, is collaborating with manufacturers of diabetes devices to ensure they are compatible with computers, smartphones and each other – making it easier for people to manage their T1D. He is also working on new features for bant – a unique, free smartphone application he launched in 2010 with the support of TELUS Health Solutions that offers a simpler and more attractive option for daily diabetes management. For more information about Dr. Cafazzo’s research and bant, click here.
Dr. Jayne Danska
Dr. Danska holds The Anne and Max Tanenbaum Chair in Molecular Medicine. She is a Professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine and a Senior Scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children. Her research addresses the idea that the dramatic increase in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases over the past 50 years results, in part, from changes in our exposure to microbes. She is studying the role of the community of microbes that inhabit the human intestine (the microbiome) in altering risk for and the progression of type 1 diabetes (T1D). The ultimate objective of her work is to identify new therapeutics to prevent T1D.
Dr. Corinne Hoesli
Dr. Hoesli, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at McGill University, is testing an innovative method using 3D printing to create a bio artificial pancreas system. The goal is to create a system that can supply insulin-producing beta cells with the blood flow and oxygen they need to survive post-transplantation. Read more about Dr. Hoesli’s research.
Dr. Gregory Korbutt
Dr. Korbutt, a professor of surgery at the University of Alberta, is using different techniques to safeguard cells with the goal of developing a more accessible source of insulin-producing tissue for transplantation into patients with type 1 diabetes. He and his team are using their new 3D ‘scaffolding’ technology to make islet transplants more widely available and functional. A scaffold is a polymer (a sheet of repeating molecules) that can be made biologically active, meaning it can be made to have an effect on a living being. The scaffolding technology can help improve blood flow and oxygen to the transplant site, as well as allow incorporation of proteins into the scaffolds that will help keep the cells healthy. Find out more about Dr. Korbutt’s research.
Dr. Margaret Lawson
Dr. Lawson, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), Senior Scientist at the CHEO Research Institute, and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Ottawa, is looking at optimizing the efficiency of artificial pancreas systems in children and adolescents. These systems consist of a continuous glucose monitor, an insulin pump and a device that connects the monitor and pump while it regulates insulin delivery as needed. The end goal is to build a mechanism that mimics the function of the human pancreas and leads to normal blood sugar levels and a healthy life for people with type 1 diabetes, now and in the future.
Dr. Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret
Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret, an endocrinologist and supervisor of the external artificial pancreas research project at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute, is testing this device for patients with type 1 diabetes. Two configurations of the artificial pancreas are being tested: one that infuses insulin and another that infuses insulin and glucagon (a hormone that can help raise blood sugar and reduce the risk of hypoglycemia). The artificial pancreas could help people with type 1 diabetes reach target blood sugar range, thereby decreasing the risk of chronic complications and at the same time further reducing the risk of hypoglycemia, which remains the most common adverse effect of insulin therapy.
Dr. Michael Riddell
Dr. Riddell, a professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science at York University, is focused on reducing excessive levels of insulin and preventing hypoglycemia in people with T1D. He led a team of researchers to determine guidelines for exercising safely with T1D. Dr. Riddell is a member of a multidisciplinary team working to design the T1D Performance in Exercise and Knowledge (PEAK) Program that will provide people living with T1D the tools they need to better manage their disease, including access to international educational events hosted by global experts and online materials. He is also experimenting with a new drug that halts hypoglycemia, which will soon be ready for clinical trials. As a Senior Scientist at LMC Diabetes & Endocrinology, Dr. Riddell also oversees studies on optimizing insulin management for exercise in active people living with type 1 diabetes. To find out more about Dr. Riddell’s research on exercise, click here.
Dr. Michael Rudnicki
Dr. Rudnicki is a senior scientist in the Regenerative Medicine Program at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and professor in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa. He has discovered a unique binding protein called periostin that influences the survival of beta cells. Animal studies will be underway shortly followed by clinical trials.
Dr. Pere Santamaria
Dr. Santamaria is the Julia McFarlane/Canadian Diabetes Association Chair in Diabetes Research at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. He investigates the immunological mechanisms that cause autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, and explores how a novel class of disease-blunting nanomedicines discovered in his laboratory promote disease reversal.
Dr. James Shapiro
Dr. James Shapiro, a multi-organ transplant surgeon at the University of Alberta, led the team that introduced the Edmonton Protocol, which optimized the medication given with islet transplants. Currently, he is conducting a phase I clinical trial on transplants using a product containing pancreatic progenitor cells (the precursors of stem cells) housed inside a device that protects them from being destroyed by the immune system. He is also leading clinical trials to switch off autoimmunity and repair injured beta cells at the time of diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. These promising tools could one day enable those with type 1 diabetes to live free of insulin injections if progress continues on course.
Dr. Bruce Verchere
Dr. Verchere is a professor in the Department of Surgery and Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine at University of British Columbia and head of the Canucks for Kids Fund Childhood Diabetes Laboratories at BC Children’s Hospital. He is studying the therapeutic potential of molecules made by pancreatic islets that can be used to suppress the immune attack on insulin-producing cells, including a protein called CCL22. He is also examining ways to improve survival of encapsulated insulin-producing beta-cells following transplantation, and discovering new forms of other proteins made by beta cells that might be used in diabetes prediction or targets of diabetes therapy.