Joslin Diabetes Center awards 1st Mary K. Iacocca Faculty Fellowship

11/02/04



Ulrich H. von Andrian, M.D., Ph.D.

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BOSTON -- Joslin Diabetes Center announced today that Ulrich H. von Andrian, M.D., Ph.D, is the first scientist to receive the new Mary K. Iacocca Faculty Fellowship at Joslin Diabetes Center. Dr. von Andrian is a Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School and Senior Investigator at the CBR Institute for Biomedical Research.

The Mary K. Iacocca Faculty Fellowship, a one-year sabbatical with a $100,000 stipend, was made possible by a generous grant from the Iacocca Foundation endowment at Joslin, and is designed to attract senior scientists to Joslin to study broad areas of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and related complications.

"With this new faculty fellowship position, our goal is to reach into alternate fields of science, medicine and engineering to introduce new ideas and technologies to diabetes research," said George L. King, M.D., Director of Research at Joslin Diabetes Center, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and chairman of the Fellowship selection process. "Following a competitive review of over 50 applications from around the globe, we are delighted to name Dr. von Andrian as our first Mary K. Iacocca Faculty Fellow, and with the opportunity this affords us to apply his exciting research in cell imaging to diabetes."

Dr. von Andrian was selected for this fellowship, in part, for his breakthrough microscopy methods of using intra-vital imaging technology, which enable scientists to view cell processes in live animals and to see how one cell interacts with other cells in the body. Studying live-cell samples is a new approach in diabetes research and holds considerable promise for many fields of study, including islet cell transplantation (islet cells are the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas), immunology, muscle and fat metabolism, blood vessel complications and inflammatory diseases.

Dr. von Andrian said the main focus of his fellowship will be to set up a new microscopy model at Joslin to view the interaction between islet cells and immune cells to determine why islet cells malfunction and cause type 1 diabetes. "My hope is that we can develop a simple model that can be widely used to study islet cells in living animals," he said. He will also collaborate with Joslin researchers on stem cell projects and the study of vascular complications in people with diabetes.

"In reviewing Dr. von Andrian's work, we see numerous ways in which he can help us assess the cellular and molecular causes of diabetes, and help guide the search for drug targets to treat the many complications of the disease," Dr. King said.

Dr. von Andrian received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, and has been a faculty member at Harvard Medical School since 1994. He has received multiple awards, such as the Amgen Outstanding Investigator Award from the American Society of Investigative Pathologists. He is a member of many professional societies and serves on the editorial boards of several scientific journals. He has published numerous papers in top journals.

An estimated 800,000 Americans have type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas is unable to produce insulin. People with type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections to survive. An estimated 18 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, in which the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin and/or the body is unable to use insulin properly (insulin resistance). Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to many complications, including heart attacks, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, blood vessel damage and nerve damage.

The Iacocca Foundation was founded by Lee A. Iacocca in memory of his wife, Mary K. Iacocca. Over the past 20 years, the Iacocca family has contributed more than $6.5 million in grants to Joslin to fund cutting-edge research for treatments and a cure for type 1 and type 2 diabetes. To commemorate this long legacy of diabetes philanthropy, the Iacocca Foundation hosted "The Journey Shared: The Iacocca Foundation's 20th Anniversary Celebration" at Ellis Island on Oct. 7.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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