Intra-Islet Signaling in Diabetes

Dawn Davis, MD, PhD, is a physician-scientist who conducts federally funded research on obesity and diabetes. Her basic science research aims to better understand the mechanisms underlying pancreatic beta cell proliferation and apoptosis. In the clinic, Dr. Davis investigates the mechanisms that lead to improved insulin sensitivity and weight loss in patients who receive Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery.

Dr. Dawn Davis looking through a microscope in her lab.

Research Overview

Dr. Davis's research aims to better understand the mechanisms underlying the proliferative response of the pancreatic beta cell. These cells divide and expand when faced with insulin resistance, increased demand for insulin during pregnancy, or in the setting of obesity.

Conversely, in Type 2 diabetes, these cells lose mass, which leads to insufficient insulin production. And Type 1 diabetes is caused by autoimmune destruction of the beta cell.

Understanding these mechanisms may help us identify new therapeutic targets that can help drive beta cell proliferation in patients with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, a recent islet transplant, or potentially even type 1 diabetes in combination with immune therapies.

The lab is also investigating the stressors that lead to increased beta cell apoptosis in early Type 1 diabetes and in Type 2 diabetes, and the ways the pancreatic islet adapts to those stressors and promotes beta cell survival.

Davis Lab Website