Diabetes Research Institute Launches Lindsey Inserra-Hughes Immune Tolerance Seminar Series to Advance Immunology Research for Type 1 Diabetes

MIAMI, Florida – October 13, 2016 – The Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation today will jointly host the inaugural meeting of the Lindsey Inserra Immune Tolerance Seminar Series, a forum for the exchange of scientific findings aimed at tackling one of the most critical issues in type 1 diabetes research: overcoming the challenges of the immune system. The series will provide the opportunity for DRI and University of Miami scientists to share knowledge and novel ideas with other leading immunologists worldwide who are working on the latest approaches to establish immune tolerance and reverse autoimmunity, the disease process that causes the onset of type 1 diabetes. The seminar will take place from 1:00 – 5:00 pm in the Jose Berrocal Auditorium (formerly Retter Auditorium) at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute on the UM Miller School campus, 900 NW 17th Street, Miami.

The seminar series is named in honor of Lindsey Inserra, a member of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation’s Northeast Regional Board of Directors and a tireless advocate for diabetes research. Inserra-Hughes, 31, who lives with type 1 diabetes, has been a passionate supporter of the Diabetes Research Institute since her family became involved with the organization following her diagnosis at age 11. Today, the Inserra family is one of the DRIF’s most generous and ardent supporters.

“I’m so honored and humbled to be part of such an important program that gives the world’s leading immunologists the opportunity to come together and focus on one of the most critical issues in type 1 diabetes. The DRI has made extraordinary progress in restoring natural insulin production and its major focus on the immune system and autoimmunity gives me real hope for a biological cure,” said Inserra.

Over the years, Inserra has helped to lead numerous fundraising events to benefit the Institute’s cure-focused research programs. As the current Young Professionals’ Chair of the DRIF’s Northeast Region Board of Directors, Inserra has planned and sponsored many exciting events aimed at attracting a new generation of supporters to the DRI.  In her role as vice president of marketing and corporate health and wellness for Inserra Supermarkets, she recently spearheaded a month-long event for the company’s annual DRIF fundraising campaign held throughout its 23 stores, bringing the total raised by these efforts to more than $200,000. These funds will be used to support the seminar series.

The launch of the Lindsey Inserra Immune Tolerance Seminar Series coincides with the awarding this evening of the J. Enloe and Eugenia J. Dodson Chair in Diabetes Research to Alberto Pugliese, M.D., DRI deputy director for immune tolerance and head of immunogenetics. Throughout his 30-year career, Dr. Pugliese has focused on identifying immune system-related causes and innovative strategies to cure and prevent type 1 diabetes. This distinguished honor will allow him to build upon the DRI’s efforts to establish tolerance and reverse autoimmunity, which are the research areas receiving the lion’s share of financial resources from the DRI Foundation.  These topics will also figure prominently throughout the seminar series, within which three programs will be planned per year.

The speaker line-up for today’s symposium includes: Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., University of Florida; Paul Bollyky, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University; Thomas Malek, Ph.D., University of Miami; Alberto Pugliese, M.D., Diabetes Research Institute/University of Miami; Helena Reijonen, Ph.D., City of Hope/Los Angeles; Bart Roep, M.D., Ph.D., City of Hope/Los Angeles; and Jay Skyler, M.D., Diabetes Research Institute/University of Miami.

Speakers left to right: Thomas Malek, Ph.D., Mark A. Atkinson, Ph.D., Paul Bollyky, M.D., Ph.D.
Helena Reijonen, Ph.D., Alberto Pugliese, M.D., Camillo Ricordi, M.D., Jay S. Skyler, M.D., 
and Bart O. Roep, M.D., Ph.D.

About the Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation
The mission of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation is to provide the Diabetes Research Institute with the funding necessary to cure diabetes now. The Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine leads the world in cure-focused research. As the largest and most comprehensive research center dedicated to curing diabetes, the DRI is aggressively working to develop a biological cure by restoring natural insulin production and normalizing blood sugar levels without imposing other risks. Researchers have already shown that transplanted islet cells allow patients to live without the need for insulin therapy. Some study participants have maintained insulin independence for more than 10 years. The DRI is now building upon these promising outcomes by developing a DRI BioHub, a bioengineered “mini organ” that mimics the native pancreas. While various BioHub platforms are being tested in preclinical and clinical studies, the DRI is also developing strategies to eliminate the need for anti-rejection drugs and reset the immune system to block autoimmunity. For more information, please visit, call 800-321-3437, or tweet @Diabetes_DRI.

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Lori Weintraub, APR

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