Partnership with NDRI leads to groundbreaking discoveries for renowned diabetes researcher

Alvin C. Powers, MD
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Using human pancreas and pancreatic islets from NDRI’s Tissue Source Site Network, Alvin C. Powers, MD, and his team at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville have made groundbreaking discoveries over the last decade regarding the causes and treatment of diabetes.

One in 11 Americans has diabetes and the number continues to grow. With NDRI’s help, using human pancreas and pancreatic islets as one of their experimental models, the Vanderbilt team hopes to change that trajectory.

Dr. Powers’ research focuses on the cells in the pancreatic islets that secrete insulin and glucagon to regulate blood sugar levels. Dr. Powers’ team has made critical discoveries in understanding how dysfunction of pancreatic islets leads to the development of various forms of diabetes, including type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, and the diabetes that sometimes occurs in individuals treated with immunosuppressive drugs. Their research has also led to new information about a rare type of diabetes known as monogenic diabetes.

“There is no other way to obtain pancreatic tissue for research and only by studying human tissue and cells we will understand what causes the various forms of diabetes and develop targeted therapies. This is why having access to human pancreatic tissue and islets through our partnership with NDRI is so important,” Dr. Powers says.

Dr. Powers is the Joe C. Davis Chair in Biologic Science and Professor of Medicine, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at Vanderbilt. He is also the director of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center, chief of the Vanderbilt Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, and the director of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Research and Training Center, a National Institutes of Health-funded center that facilitates the diabetes-related research of more than 120 Vanderbilt scientists, and a staff physician at the Veterans Administration Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, Dr. Powers has partnered with NDRI for more than 10 years in his studies.