Antonio Toniolo

Antonio Toniolo is a medically qualified Clinical and Research Microbiologist.  His current research interests are disorders with possible viral etiology (type 1 diabetes, post-polio syndrome) and clinical microbiology.  He is the author of over 200 publications in microbiology and infectious diseases.

University of Insurbria, Varese, Italy

Maria Craig

Maria’s research interests include the epidemiology of childhood type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the association between enterovirus infection and type 1 diabetes, the epidemiology of diabetes complications in children & adolescents and evidence based care in type 1 diabetes.

Sydney, Australia

Professor Heikki Hyoty

Professor Hyöty’s group has long experience in studies evaluating the role of viruses in type 1 diabetes and allergies. He has published pioneering prospective studies and has made many new discoveries on the role of enteroviruses in diabetes. One recent initiative is a project aiming at developing enterovirus vaccine against type 1 diabetes. This long-term commitment to this particular topic has created a strong research center in Tampere.

Tampere, Finland

Noel Morgan

Our team is using a unique tissue bank resource, the Exeter Archival Diabetes Biobank (originally collected by Prof Alan Foulis but now held in Exeter) consisting of more than 100 pancreas samples recovered from patients who died soon after diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, to study the factors which cause beta cell death. We also have access to pancreas samples from the nPOD collection in the USA for parallel studies. We employ immunocytochemical techniques to visualise protein expression in the islet cells in these samples at high resolution and, at least in some cases, are also able to extract RNA for gene expression studies. The work has revealed that small numbers of beta cells appear to be infected with enteroviruses in patients with type 1 diabetes and that these cells also mount an active anti-viral response. Surprisingly, the features of the beta cell enteroviral infection are unusual and suggest the development of a long-term, persistent, infection in which the cells retain viral RNA but undergo minimal cell lysis. We are currently modelling this infection in beta cells grown in tissue culture to understand the effects of enteroviral persistence on cellular responses and beta cell antigen processing as a means to gaining a clearer view of the factors promoting autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes. Ultimately, we hope that these studies will underpin the development of appropriate vaccination strategies to prevent or halt the progression of beta cell destruction in susceptible individuals.

IBEX, Islet Biology Exeter, Exeter University Medical School, Exeter, UK

Malin Flodstrom Tullberg

The groups present research seeks to define the role of the Coxsackie virus in the disease process, particularly how the virus affects the infected host and the cross-talk between the virus, the immune system and the pancreatic beta cells. It is expected that these studies will generate valuable information for the design of preventative treatments against islet cell destruction and type 1 diabetes.

The group also has an interest in pancreatic islet transplantation as a curative treatment for type 1 diabetes.

Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

Alberto Pugliese, M.D

Alberto Pugliese, M.D., is The J. Enloe and Eugenia J. Dodson Chair in Diabetes Research, Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology and Deputy Director for Immune Tolerance at the Diabetes Research Institute.

Dr. Pugliese, who joined the DRI in 1994, is dedicated to advancing type 1 diabetes research through scientific excellence, open collaboration, and the training of new investigators. For the last 25 years, he has studied type 1 diabetes from the preclinical period to the clinical diagnosis, and afterwards, in the setting of transplantation.   

His work examines the role of genetic and immunological factors that lead to, or protect against, the development of type 1 diabetes. His studies have lead to improved understanding of genetic and cellular mechanisms that regulate immunological self-tolerance (acceptance) specifically to molecules targeted in diabetes.  Dr. Pugliese's research has provided seminal contributions in type 1 diabetes genetics, immunology, pathology, and clinical trials.

Since 2001, Dr. Pugliese has been a steering committee member of the Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet (, a National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trial network, for which he has chaired several committees and initiatives. He is also Executive Co-Director of the JDRF Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors (nPOD) (, a collaborative project that recovers tissues from organ donors with type 1 diabetes and distributes these samples to investigators worldwide to support a comprehensive understanding of the human disease.

Diabetes Research Institute, Miami, Florida, USA

Matthias von Herrath

Understanding disease pathology remains very close to Dr. von Herrath’s heart and NovoNordisk enabled him to keep an appointment at La Jolla Institute, where he pursues NIH-funded research on the pathology of type 1 and 2 diabetes as part of the national pancreatic organ donor network (nPOD). This is a multinational collaborative effort where data are shared in real time and no intellectual property yet lots of new knowledge on the pathology of type 1 and 2 diabetes is being generated. It is a unique new collaborative paradigm for academic and also industry settings.

Division of Developmental Immunology, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology

Professor Annette-Gabriele Ziegler

The research of Professor Ziegler focuses primarily on the understanding of the natural history of type 1 diabetes in humans, the identification of the mechanisms and predictive markers of the disease and the translation of findings into trials to prevent type 1 diabetes.

Institute of Diabetes Research, Munich, Germany

Alan Foulis

For the last 30 years he has conducted research into the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. He established a unique biobank of autopsy pancreases of children who died shortly after developing the disease. In conjunction with the group of Prof Noel Morgan at Exeter University, evidence of enteroviral infection of the insulin secreting cells in the pancreas has been found in these children. This observation has raised the possibility that the disease could be prevented by vaccinating infants against diabetogenic viruses.

Medical Genetics & Pathology , Glasgow Royal Infirmary

Sarah Richardson

Sarah Richardson’s career in type 1 diabetes research began in 2007 when she joined Professor Noel Morgan’s group at the University of Exeter Medical School. Prior to this her postdoctoral work was in the field of apoptosis based at both the University of Sheffield and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne. She utilises three unique cohorts of type 1 diabetes patient pancreas samples and her research is centred around developing a clearer understanding of the disease processes by which beta cells are targeted and destroyed. She has a particular interest in the role that enteroviruses may play in the disease. Her current research projects are aimed at confirming whether enterovirus can be detected in the pancreas of patients, and enhancing knowledge of the pathogenic signaling mechanisms involved in the recruitment and activation of immune cells. The success of this work enabled her to gain a Diabetes Research Wellness Foundation (DRWF) Non-Clinical Research Fellowship, a JDRF Career Development Award and was the recipient of the first nPOD Junior Investigator Award. She has also been an Innovators in Diabetes participant with Diabetes UK. She is an enthusiastic and pro-active member of several international consortiums aimed at developing a better understanding of the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes.

Islet Biology Exeter, Exeter University Medical School, Exeter, UK

Abner Notkins

Autoimmune Diabetes and Immunology

The laboratory is focusing on three related areas:

  • The first is concerned with the identification of new autoantigens, the autoantibodies with which these autoantigens react and the value of autoantibodies in predicting the development of autoimmune diseases. The long term goal is to define the human “autoantigenome” — that is the identification and characterization of the major autoantigens in the most common human autoimmune diseases — by high throughput procedures and extensive screening of the proteome.

  • The second area concerns the properties and function of IA-2 and IA-2ß which are major autoantigens in type 1 diabetes and transmembrane proteins of dense core secretory vesicles. These proteins are present in most of the neuroendocrine cells in the body. Knockout and knock down technology has shown that these proteins affect the secretion of hormones (e.g., insulin). Current studies are concerned with the effect of IA-2 and IA-2ß on the secretion of neurotransmitters and how this, in turn, alters behavior, learning and life-span.

  • The third area involves polyreactive antibodies. Hybridoma technology has shown that many antibody molecules are polyreactive — that is, they can bind to a variety of different and structurally unrelated self and non-self foreign antigens. These antibodies generally have low binding affinity and are encoded by germ-line or near germ-line sequences. Further studies revealed that much of the natural antibody repertoire is made up of polyreactive antibody. The function of the natural antibody repertoire has remained an enigma. Current studies are focusing on the role of polyreactive antibodies in: defense against foreign organisms (i.e., bacteria/viruses); the clearance of damaged proteins and cells; and the possible role of these antibodies in the induction and/or maintenance of immunological tolerance. The cells that make polyreactive antibodies also are under investigation.


Laboatory of Sensory Biology - New York

Roberto S Accolla

Prof. Accolla obtained his M.D. degree cum laude at the University La Sapienza , Rome, in 1974. He then spent two years as post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Pathology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia from 1975-1976, where he investigated the B cell repertoire and the idiotype-antiidiotype regulation of immune response. From 1978 to 1988, he worked at Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Lausanne, Switzerland, becoming interested in tumor immunology and immunogenetics. He has been the first to isolate monoclonal antibodies against carcinoembrionic antigen CEA and a variety of melanoma associated antigens. He greatly contributed to the clarification of the structural heterogeneity and polymorphism of HLA class II molecules and subsequently he was the first to describe and map the locus AIR-1 encoding the major transcriptional regulator (CIITA) of HLA class II genes. At the present he is full professor of General Pathology at the University of Insubria Medical School, Varese. His recent studies concern the regulation of expression of HLA genes and molecules during infectious diseases and particularly in retroviral infections, the impact and meaning of immune response against tumours and the study of primary and acquired immunodeficiencies.

University of Insubria Medical School, Varese

Mark Atkinson

Mark Atkinson, Ph.D. is a medical researcher best known for his contributions to research seeking to predict, prevent, and cure type 1 diabetes. He is the author of over 400 publications and is one of the world’s most cited diabetes researchers.

Atkinson currently conducts research at the University of Florida College of Medicine, where he is Director for the Diabetes Institute at UF Health. He also is the Executive Director of the Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes (nPOD).

Atkinson has also been widely cited for his humanitarian contributions, particularly his efforts to improve diabetes care, management, and access to medications and supplies in developing nations.

Dr. Atkinson is currently the executive director for nPOD.  nPOD is a collaborative Type 1 diabetes research project funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). It supports scientific investigators by providing, without cost, rare and difficult to obtain tissues beneficial to their research. nPOD currently supports over 140 Type 1 diabetes-related scientific studies at institutions around the world.  To learn more, visit the nPOD website.

Unversity of Florida Diabetes Institute, University of Florida College of Medicine

Nora Chapman

Professor Nora Chapman is a Research Scientist at the University of Nebraska Enterovirus Research Laboratory and Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre.

Professor Chapman studies persistent coxsackie infections in murine models of chronic myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy.

She and her associates have demonstrated that selection of defective enterovirus in heart and other tissues leads to persistent infections despite active antiviral immune responses.

Dr. Chapman is presently studying the mode of selection of these viruses and the effects of replication of these viruses upon infected cell function.

Dr. Chapman and her associates at the University of Nebraska are further investigating Dr. John Chia’s work in regards to enterovirus in the gut biopsies.

University of Nebraska Medical Centre

Akihisa Imagawa

Department of Metabolic Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University

Babara Schulte

Barbara Schulte studies the role of human primary dendritic cells in the onset of enterovirus-induced autoimmune responses.

Tumor Immunogy Department

Ben Giepmans

Ben Giepmans is intrigued by how biomolecules act together to control cell fate in health and disease. He is a cell biologist and molecular biochemist/ microscopist. His PhD research at The Netherlands Cancer Institute (W.H. Moolenaar; 2001) and related work in The Scripps Research Institute (CA, USA; M.M. Falk) have led to a better molecular understanding of regulation of gap junctions.

Giepmans moved to the National Center of Microscopy and Imaging Research (University of California, San Diego; M.H. Ellisman & R.Y Tsien), where he implemented several new advanced imaging techniques and probes to study protein dynamics in live cells and protein localization at high resolution.

Since 2007 he is a group leader at the department of Cell Biology, UMC Gromingen where he also leads the UMCG microscopy & imaging center. The team develops and/or implements new imaging techniques and probes for microscopy including 'nanotomy' and 'ColorEM'. In particular, the Giepmans lab studies the role of cell-cell contact proteins in diseases. The focus is on Islets of Langerhans to help to understand trigger(s) and potential new therapies for Type 1 diabetes.

The Giepmans Group, department of Cell Biology, UMCG, The Netherlands

Decio L. Eizirik

Decio Eizirik and his team study the mechanisms of pancreatic beta cell dysfunction and death in type 1 diabetes, aiming to develop novel alternatives to protect beta cells in early diabetes.

The principal research topics are :

•Study of the cross-talk between beta cells and the immune system leading to insulitis.

•Study of the molecular mechanisms by which viral infections trigger beta cell apoptosis and local inflammation.

•Use of a systems biology approach to define the gene networks regulating beta cell fate following exposure to cytokines or viral products.

•Characterization of the molecular mechanisms regulating cytokine-induced apoptosis, with focus on endoplasmatic reticulum stress and the mitochondrial pathways of apoptosis.

•Characterization of the role of type 1 diabetes genes at the beta cell level.

•The role of calcium in beta cell function and survival.

ULB Centre for Diabetes Research, Université libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium

Piemonti Lorenzo

Lorenzo Piemonti, MD, was born in Carate Brianza (MB), he graduated with honors at the University of Milan in 1994 and specialized with honors in Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases and Microsurgery and Experimental Surgery at the University of Milan in 2000 and 2004, respectively. At the 'San Raffaele Scientific Institute (Milan, Italy) he holds the position of Deputy Director of the Diabetes Research Institute, director of the Human Islet Transplantation Programme.  In addition he also serves as head of the Beta Cell Biology Unit (Diabetes Research Institute), and director of the Human Islet Processing Facility, as well as coordinator of the European Consortium for transplantation Islands (ECIT, -transplatntation / index.html). Lorenzo Piemotni is Professor of Endocrinology at the "Vita Salute San Raffaele" University of Milan and Honorary Visiting Professor at the Vrije Universiteit in Brussels. His area of ​​expertise is mainly focused on diabetes and the pancreas. He has studied the role of innate immunity in islet cell biology (especially in the human model of pancreatic islet transplantation) and in the biology of pancreatic cancer (in particular the role of chemokines and chemokine receptors of the system in inducing the leukocyte infiltration). In addition, his research interests include the replacement of beta cells, the induction of immune tolerance strategies, the biology of dendritic cells and the stem cells. Currently he is Section Editor for Cell Transplantation-the Regenerative Medicine Journal and Current Diabetes Reports, and sits on the editorial board of Acta Dibetologia, is also Director of the International Pancreas and Islet Transplantation Association (IPITA) of the Transplantation Society (TTS) and a member of executive Board of the European Pancreas and Islet Transplantation Association (EPITA) of the European Society for Organ Transplantation (ESOT).

Diabetes Research Institute, Milan

Paolo Fiorina

Dr. Paolo Fiorina obtained his medical degree from the University of Milan and continued his training at the combined Internal Medicine/PhD program in immunology at Parma University. After studying transplantation immunology for six years at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, one of the leading programs in human islet cell transplantation, Dr. Fiorina joined Boston Children's Hospital as a research fellow in 2004. In 2009 he became an Assistant Professor of Nephrology at Boston Children’s/Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Fiorina’s research focuses on diabetes. In particular, he is interested in three major areas: (1) the treatment of autoimmune diabetes; (2) the replacement of beta cells through islet transplantation; (3) the treatment of diabetic nephropathy. Dr. Fiorina has made significant and innovative contributions in understanding the mechanism underlying the beneficial effects of life expectancy obtained after islet transplantation, even when patients only have partial islet function.

Harvard Medical School and The International Center for T1D Romeo ed Enrica Invernizzi Pediatric Clinical and Research Center, Milan University, Italy

Professor Gian Franco Bottazzo

Gian Franco Bottazzo, Italian physician and researcher, was born in Venice, Italy, in 1946. He obtained his M.D. degree from Padua University in 1971, completed post-graduate studies in Allergy and Immunology at the University of Florence in 1974, earned a Diploma in Endocrinology from Padua University in 1979.

In a landmark paper published in 1974, Gian Franco Bottazzo, Deborah Doniach and colleagues showed that type 1 diabetes is associated with the development of antibodies directed against insulin-producing beta cells. This pioneering discovery opened the way to investigations of autoimmunity as a basic pathogenic event not only in pancreatic islet cells leading to type 1 diabetes mellitus, but also in the loss of other endocrine cells such as those of the thyroid and pituitary gland. Achievements include the discovery of islet cell autoantibodies, several new autoantibodies in endocrine autoimmunity, aberrant HLA class II molecule expression in autoimmune thyrocytes.

Welcome Research Fellow, Middlesex Hospital, London (1975-1977), lecturer in clinical immunology, (1977-1980), senior lecturer in clinical immunology (1980-1983), reader in clinical immunology (1984-1989). Professor and Head, Department of immunology, The London Medical College (1991-1998). Honorary consultant at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School (1980-1991) and The Royal Hospital, London (1991-1998). Scientific director Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù, Rome since 1998. Medical and Scientific Director of The Autoimmune Diseases Charitable Trust, London (1992-2002).

Honors: Commendatore of the Italian Republic for scientific merits (Rome, 1986); the Oskar Minkowski Price (1982), The King Faisal International Award in Medicine (1986), Laurea Honoris Causa in Medicine, University of Nantes (France, 1990); the R.D. Lawrence Prize and the Banting Medal from the American Diabetes Association (1992).

'Father of islet cell autoantibodies'

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