MD/PhD candidate Rachel Stamateris focused on novel diabetes approach

[MUSIC PLAYING] My name is Rachel Stamateris. I’m an MD/PhD candidate in the
Alonso Lab at UMass Medical School. I think I was attracted
to diabetes research because it’s such a
widespread problem that just seems to keep getting worse. And I also found it really easy
to combine the clinical aspects of seeing patients in
the clinic with diabetes and then also using that to
better inform the research questions in the lab. So the main goal of
the Alonso Laboratory is to find ways to
increase the number of insulin-producing beta cells,
which are either destroyed in type-1 diabetes or are
not enough in quantity or not functional
enough to compensate for things such as insulin
resistance in type-2 diabetes. So the main way
the Alonso Lab is trying to tackle this
problem is to find ways to increase beta
cell replication, which proves challenging
because it’s thought that by young adulthood, the
number of beta cells that you have in your
body is pretty much set. And these cells
are also relatively resistant to replication, unlike
other cell types in the body. So the main focus of my
project is investigating how a protein, CDK4, which
promotes cell cycle division, is able to rescue an
animal model of diabetes. So it seems like this protein is
able to rescue diabetes partly through its classical role as
being a cell cycle regulator by inducing beta
cell proliferation. But it also seems like
it’s playing a novel role by promoting beta
cell differentiation. My immediate goal
with this project is to identify potential
novel CDK4 interactions in the beta cell that
can promote beta cell differentiation. In long term, I would
like to somehow find a way to combine both
clinical practice and also research potentially
in the setting of endocrinology. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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