Sunday, April 22, 2012

JDRF New England Chapter's 13th Annual Spring Research Briefing

The 13th Annual Spring Research Briefing was held on April 10, 2012 at the Boston Marriott Newton.  The information we shared that night was an inspiration and surely proof that JDRF research is focused on improving the lives of people with diabetes today and in the future.

We started the evening with an overview of JDRF’s research portfolio from Dr. Julia Greenstein, Assistant Vice President of Cure Therapies at JDRF International, and then heard an update from Dr. Edward Damiano on his work with Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital on a closed-loop artificial pancreas blood glucose control system.  Following Dr. Damiano’s presentation, guests were then given the opportunity to listen in on two more research presentations in the categories of Cure, Treat, and Prevent.  View biographies of our speakers.

Here you will find video and slides of the evening’s presentations.  A special thank you to Bentley University students James Covino, Gregory Johnson, Katherine Kradolfer, and Allison McNamara, and to their professor, Mark Frydenberg, for making this possible!


Gary P. Savage
President, Board of Directors, JDRF New England Chapter

Julia L. Greenstein, Ph.D.
Assistant Vice President of Cure Therapies, JDRF International

Edward Damiano, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Boston University



Fumihiko Urano, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School

T1D is characterized by the loss of insulin-secreting beta cells and makes patients insulin-dependent for life. Dr. Urano is working on the identification of specific pathways and pharmacologic agents that safely promote beta cell survival and function, an important step in developing novel therapeutic strategies for T1D.

Bridget K. Wagner, Ph.D., Director of Pancreatic Cell Biology and Metabolic Disease, Chemical Biology Program, The Broad Institute

Inducing human beta-cell division with small molecules could be a therapeutically important approach to promoting beta-cell regeneration, in order to treat T1D. Dr. Wagner has developed a high-throughput human islet cell-culture system to screen a collection of more than 100,000 compounds for inducers of beta-cell proliferation. Such compounds represent important leads for future drug development.


Benjamin Tang, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Tang is creating smart glucose responsive biodegradable polymers to deliver insulin as needed over an extended period with the ultimate goal of eliminating the need for blood glucose measurements and repeated injections.

Daniel G. Anderson, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology, David H. Koch, Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Anderson is working on developing nanoparticles that support the therapeutic delivery of drugs and macromolecules, inside of specific cell targets, in vivo. In relation to T1D, this research will develop biomaterials for glucose responsive drug delivery systems and sensors.


David Mooney, Ph.D., Robert P. Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering and Associate Dean for Chemical/Biological Sciences and Engineering, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Dr. Mooney is developing a tolerogenic vaccine that will prevent T1D by instructing the immune system to protect insulin-producing beta cells instead of destroying them. His innovative strategy uses a material to deliver bioactive factors and program the cells of the immune system directly in the body.

Jennifer P. Wang, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Considerable evidence exists that T1D is often associated with the destructive consequences of the person’s own response to a viral infection. The most common viruses that have been implicated in this type of response are the Coxsackie B viruses. Dr. Wang is investigating the mechanism by which Coxsackie viruses stimulate host responses and how that may lead to diabetes.