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Promising new research earns Salk scientist Career Development Award

Mark Huising

Mark Huising

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) has given Salk scientist Mark Huising a five-year, $750,000 Career Development Award for his study on how a novel network of receptors in human islets receives and integrates molecular signals. In preclinical models, activation of these receptors has proven to actually prevent diabetes.

The goal of Huising's study, titled "Urocortin 3 Marks Mature Beta Cells and Prevents Diabetes," is to understand how this protection is accomplished. "Despite years of research," he says, "significant gaps remain in our understanding of the way the islet receives and integrates signals from a wide variety of sources. We envision that among these networks of signaling molecules plenty remain that are unknown and can lead to novel strategies to treat or cure type 1 diabetes."

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Although the condition, which usually appears during childhood or adolescence, can be managed, it requires a daily juggling act. Food, exercise and insulin must be carefully balanced with scheduled blood sugar checks and insulin injections. A diagnosis of diabetes is also a major risk factor for later complications such as cardiac failure, kidney problems and lower limb amputations. To date, type 1 diabetes has no cure, making Huising's research all the more exciting.

The JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes research. It currently sponsors $530 million in scientific research in 17 countries and particularly seeks researchers who specialize in translational research. The primary purpose of the Career Development Award is to "attract qualified and promising scientists early in their faculty careers and to give them the opportunity to establish themselves" in areas pertinent to diabetes research. Career Development Awards are highly competitive and awarded to only a handful of people each year.