Research Group

  • Dr. Luis A. Fernandez, Principal Investigator
  • Dr. Jon S. Odorico, Co-Investigator
  • Dr. Matthew S. Hanson, Research Associate
  • Mr. Eric Hatch, Research Associate


  • University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, USA


  • Characterization of Human Islet from Non-Heart Beating Donors

The transplantation of insulin-producing cell clusters known as islets of Langerhans, has emerged as the most promising option for achieving restoration of normal blood sugar control in people with type 1 diabetes mellitus. One limiting factor that has impaired the availability of this treatment is the shortage of donor organs. Donation after cardiac death (DCD; non-heart beating donors) is a viable alternative that will aid in reducing this shortage.

Our goal is to provide a comprehensive assessment of human islets from DCD donors and compare them to islets from donation after brain death (DBD) donors (heart beating donors). At present, islets for transplant are not typically isolated from DCD pancreata. Determination of the multiple mechanisms of adaptation that allows the cells to survive adverse metabolic conditions such as low oxygenation or limited nutrient supply will be the focus of our study. Also, characterization of the micro-environment in the liver after islet transplantation and its impact on islet function and insulin production will be studied in a rodent model. The knowledge acquired from this study will increase the utilization of pancreata that have the potential to cure type 1 diabetic patients. Understanding the biology of the islets and liver micro-environment after transplantation will open avenues for new therapeutic options that will not only impact the number of functional islets after transplantation, but also increase the number of patients that might be cured from this devastating disease.