UTHSC Researcher Wins Grant to Discover Roadmap to Type 1 Diabetes

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Ivan C. Gerling, PhD, associate professor at UTHSC and research biologist at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center Memphis (VAMC), has been awarded a nearly $1.3 million 5-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Ivan C. Gerling, PhD, associate professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Medicine (COM) and research biologist at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Memphis (VAMC), has been awarded a nearly $1.3 million 5-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The ultimate goal of his research is to prevent Type 1 diabetes.

Currently, medical researchers do not understand why some individuals’ immune systems malfunction and destroy all of their insulin producing cells. “Thanks to UTHSC’s recently acquired mass spectrometry instruments, we can now create a comprehensive map of molecular abnormalities associated with initiation of this immune system malfunction,” said Dr. Gerling. “The long-term goal is to define these molecular abnormalities in such detail that we can diagnose and treat them before they turn into actual immune system malfunctions and Type 1 diabetes. This would allow doctors to diagnose and cure the disease before it even occurs.”

Sol Solomon, MD, professor of medicine (endocrinology) and pharmacology at UTHSC COM and chief of endocrinology at VAMC, said of his colleague Dr. Gerling, “He has done brilliantly, in two ways: 1) by using the new discovery-science approach, proteomics and genomics, to unravel the complex immunology of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus; and 2) by being a pioneer in these discovery-science approaches both at the national/international level and at the local/regional level ‘ushering in’ other scientists and helping them utilize these new approaches in their own areas of research. He has earned this award from NIH, in a very difficult funding time, and deserves great credit for this.”

Dr. Gerling received his PhD in immunology from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and a postdoctoral fellowship from the Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine. He received the Career Development Award from the American Diabetes Association from 1997 to 2001, and his diabetes research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 1998.