Joslin Diabetes Center Harvard Medical School Department of Genetics
Using the model organism C. elegans, we study how regulatory pathways that are important in growth control influence stress defenses and aging, as well as relationships between stem cell function and aging.
With a series of rodent models Dr. Bonner-Weir has provided compelling evidence that adult pancreatic beta-cell mass increases in response to a metabolic need and have been examining the mechanisms of this postnatal pancreatic growth.
Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Joslin Diabetes Center Harvard Medical School
Stem cells are rare and unique cells capable of generating many different types of cells needed in the body. In adult tissues, different organs contain different stem cell populations, each of which produces a subset of the body's cells. For example, hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells generate all of the red and white blood cells needed to deliver oxygen to body tissues, fight infection, and stop bleeding. Similarly, myogenic (muscle-forming) stem cells generate mature muscle fibers necessary for controlled contraction of skeletal muscle. Work in the Wagers Lab focuses on understanding the mechanisms that regulate the function of these blood-forming and muscle-forming stem cells so that their potential can be optimally exploited for the treatment of diseases such as cancer, anemia, muscular dystrophy, and diabetes.
One of the most important goals of diabetes research is to find sources of new beta cells (the islet cells in the pancreas that produce insulin) and to successfully transplant these cells into the pancreas.