September 27, 2013

Promising new research earns Salk scientist Career Development Award

Salk News

Promising new research earns Salk scientist Career Development Award

LA JOLLA, CA—The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) has given Salk scientist Mark Huising a five-year, $750,000 Career Development Award for his proposed study on how a novel network of receptors in human islets receives and integrates molecular signals. In pre-clinical models, activation of these receptors has proven to actually prevent diabetes. Career Development Awards are highly competitive and bestowed upon only a handful of people each year.

The goal of Huising’s study, entitled “Urocortin 3 Marks Mature Beta Cells and Prevents Diabetes,” is to understand how this protection against diabetes 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 remain plenty 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’s 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 such later complications 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.

Huising received his doctorate in biology at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Currently working in the Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology at the Salk Institute, Huising and his team study the actions of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and urocortins in the pancreas. Urocortin 3, a peptide related to CRF, is abundantly expressed by mature beta cells and makes important contributions to the regulation of insulin secretion and glucose metabolism.

The JDRF is the leading global organization funding Type 1 diabetes research. The foundation currently sponsors $530 million in scientific research in 17 countries and emphasizes seeking researchers “who will bridge the gap between the bench and bedside.” 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.

About the Salk Institute for Biological Studies:

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is one of the world’s preeminent basic research institutions, where internationally renowned faculty probe fundamental life science questions in a unique, collaborative, and creative environment. Focused both on discovery and on mentoring future generations of researchers, Salk scientists make groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of cancer, aging, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and infectious diseases by studying neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology, and related disciplines.

Faculty achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, including Nobel Prizes and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, M.D., the Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark.

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