Our research focuses on primary cilia in the regulation of pancreatic islet function.

Primary cilia are specialized cell surface organelles present on most cells of the mammalian body. We are specifically interested in primary cilia on pancreatic islet cells because disruption of cilia function produces glucose imbalance leading to diabetes – the question is how. We use targeted gene deletion and reporter models to study the role of cilia in islet nutrient sensing, paracrine communication, and hormone secretion.  

  • How do cilia sense nutrients?
  • How do cilia transduce signals into the cell?
  • How do cells communicate via their cilia?
  • High-resolution imaging of ciliary structure
  • In vivo phenotypes of islet cilia dysfunction

Our key approaches and tool box:

  • genetic models of cilia disruption and diabetes
  • fluorescent reporters and biosensors
  • quantitative live-cell imaging
  • transmission and scanning electron microscopy
  • islet function and physiology
  • molecular and cell biology
  • omics when appropriate

Our work is supported by:

  • The Integrated Islet Distribution Program (IIDP)
  • The Human Islet Research Network (HIRN)
  • Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DRC)
  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
  • Washington University Diabetes Research Center (WU DRC)