Hollywood, FL (November 2006) — The Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) is pleased to welcome Cherie Stabler, Ph.D., as Director of the Tissue Engineering Lab. Dr. Stabler comes to Miami from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, where her research focused on the design and development of islet encapsulation techniques and the study of how biomaterial barriers can protect the fragile implanted islet cells from the strong immunological and inflammatory responses of the recipient.
Tissue engineering and encapsulation technology holds great promise for enhancing islet cell survival. At the DRI, Dr. Stabler’s research will build on existing methods to construct new biocompatible barriers, such as complex “scaffolding,” that may offer more immuno-protection to the transplanted islets.
She will also investigate ways to attach specific proteins within or on the surface of the protective barriers, such as anti-inflammatory agents. By combining biomaterials with active proteins, it may be feasible to generate materials capable of “actively” enhancing the islet environment, thereby resulting in increased survival and function of the insulin producing cells.
Another area of Dr. Stabler’s research involves the use of noninvasive imaging techniques, specifically MRI and MRS (Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy), to assess tissue engineered implants. By applying MRI/MRS techniques to islets, researchers hope to monitor the structure and viability of transplanted islets without disturbing their environment. The ability to observe islets post-transplant is critical for understanding their function over time. Dr. Stabler’s work complements the DRI’s current efforts to assess the health and quality of islet cells prior to islet transplantation into patients.
“I am very excited to have the opportunity to work at the DRI where there is a team that combines every aspect of diabetes research, as well as a strong focus on tissue engineering. It’s really unique,” says Dr. Stabler. “I’m also very impressed with the willingness of Dr. Ricordi and the whole Institute to openly share their work with the research community. The DRI is regarded worldwide as a top-notch research facility. Joining their team for the research reputation is wonderful, but going there for the research collaboration makes it even more meaningful.”