Klaus H. Kaestner, PhD
PHILADELPHIA - The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) has awarded Penn Medicine a $12 Million, four-year grant to establish the Human Pancreas Analysis Program (HPAP).  

“The past decades have seen a dramatic improvement in our ability to profile human tissues relevant to Type 1 diabetes at the genomic, epigenomic, protein, and functional levels,” said Klaus H. Kaestner, PhD, the Thomas and Evelyn Suor Butterworth Professor in Genetics and associate director of the Penn Diabetes Research Center, in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

HPAP is focused on procuring and phenotyping pancreatic tissues from individuals with or at risk for Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, or other types of pancreatic islet dysfunction characterized by changes in beta cell mass. The team will also promote additional analysis of samples, including sharing of biobanked HPAP tissues and the resulting multi-dimensional data with the diabetes research community through an open-access database.

The Program, directed by Ali Naji, MD, PhD, a professor of Surgery, consists of six teams at Penn with expertise in:

  • Pancreas procurement and islet isolation, led by Naji
  • Physiological phenotyping of pancreatic islets, led by Doris Stoffers, MD, PhD, the Sylvan H. Eisman Professor of Medicine
  • Immunology and epigenetics, particularly involving T and B cells, led by Michael R. Betts, PhD, an associate professor of Microbiology
  • Molecular profiling of islets, led by Kaestner
  • Tissue analytics and biobanking, led by Michael Feldman, MD, PhD, a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
  • Bioinformatics, led by Jason H. Moore, PhD, the Edward Rose Professor of Informatics and director of the Institute for Biomedical Informatics

Ali Naji, MD, PhD
The Program is also collaborating with teams at University of Florida, led by Mark A. Atkinson, PhD and Vanderbilt University, led by Alvin C. Powers, MD, who are funded by a separate award. HPAP, the newest program in the NIDDK-funded Human Islet Research Network, will build upon well-established collaborations among Penn investigators.

An unparalleled multidisciplinary approach, such as the mapping of the “immune atlas” of the pancreas and cutting-edge technology, such as single cell analysis by mass cytometry, are some of the program’s strengths. This and other technological platforms will allow researchers to study diabetes and pancreatic islets with unprecedented resolution, say the investigators.

HPAP is supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (UC4-DK112217).

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, excellence in patient care, and community service. The organization consists of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Penn’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school.

The Perelman School of Medicine is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $550 million awarded in the 2022 fiscal year. Home to a proud history of “firsts” in medicine, Penn Medicine teams have pioneered discoveries and innovations that have shaped modern medicine, including recent breakthroughs such as CAR T cell therapy for cancer and the mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities stretch from the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania to the New Jersey shore. These include the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Chester County Hospital, Lancaster General Health, Penn Medicine Princeton Health, and Pennsylvania Hospital—the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is an $11.1 billion enterprise powered by more than 49,000 talented faculty and staff.

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