Pancreatic Islet Biology
Matthew Merrins, PhD, is a federally funded investigator whose research focuses on metabolic signaling in the pancreatic islets of Langerhans. As metabolic sensors for an organism, islets regulate blood glucose by releasing the hormones insulin and glucagon.
Dr. Merrins' lab is interested in two features of nutrient metabolism in islet cells: the ability to trigger pulses of insulin release, and the ability to fine-tune hormone secretion through cell-cell communication.
To understand how these processes adapt to environmental stress, his team uses mouse models of obesity/diabetes in combination with biochemistry, patch clamp electrophysiology and quantitative imaging. By using fluorescence microscopy (3D light-sheet imaging, optogenetics and 2-photon microscopy), they can monitor biochemical reactions as they occur in living cells.
Image above: Visualizing pancreatic islet metabolism with 3D imaging of lactate (2-photon, left) and plasma membrane ATP/ADP (spinning disk confocal, right).