“Testing in large preclinical models allows us to see how recipients with immune systems that more closely approximate humans will react. This data is often essential in order to obtain FDA approval for human trials.”

Norma S. Kenyon, Ph.D.

Norma Sue Kenyon, Ph.D., is a Deputy Director and the Martin Kleiman Professor of Surgery, Microbiology and Immunology and Biomedical Engineering at the Diabetes Research Institute, Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami.

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Utilizing clinically relevant transplant models, and as a co-investigator on multiple clinical trials, Dr. Kenyon and her team have focused on ways to transplant insulin producing islet cells without the need for life-long anti-rejection drugs, including the incorporation of stem cells into transplant protocols to enhance islet engraftment and survival. Her current research is focused on the immunomodulatory and graft promoting effects of mesenchymal stem cells on islet allografts.

Key accomplishments include development and sharing of methods for NHP islet and islet/bone marrow allograft models, development of a method for prediction of islet allograft rejection in NHP and humans, writing and submission of the first clinical islet transplant IND, demonstration of the efficacy of costimulatory blockade for prevention and reversal of NHP islet allograft rejection and demonstration of long-term survival of allogeneic NHP islets in an alternative site (omental pouch). She has received research funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation and several industry collaborators.

Dr. Kenyon has served as Chair for Immunology in the NIH funded Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet and the Clinical Islet Transplant consortiums. She was a member of the National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Disease Council and recently finished service as a member of the NIH Council of Councils. In addition to her academic pursuits, Dr. Kenyon has served as a scientific advisor to the Food and Drug Administration and as Senior Associate Dean for Translational Science at the Miller School of Medicine. She is currently Chief Innovation Officer and Director of the Wallace H. Coulter Center for Translational Research at the Miller School of Medicine, as well as Vice Provost for Innovation for the University of Miami. In these roles, Kenyon oversees commercialization of U of Miami technologies.

Kenyon earned her undergraduate degree from Duke University and her Ph.D. from Virginia Commonwealth University, followed by post-doctoral positions at UCLA and the University of Miami. She left academics to work for Coulter Corporation early in her career but ultimately returned to pursue type 1 diabetes research.

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