Discovery Research Programs

Islet/Stem Cell Biology

photo of Michael Wheeler

Program Leader: Dr. Michael Wheeler

The Islet Centre provides a platform for researchers from a range of disciplines to study the role of the pancreatic islet cell as a key cause and target for treatment of type-1 and type-2 diabetes mellitus. The Islet Program builds upon existing infrastructure and CFI funding success of the University Health Network (UHN) and dynamic collaborations amongst UHN scientists, including the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, to accelerate research into the prevention and treatment of this disease. The program plays a prominent role in the ability of UHN researchers to uncover molecular and physiological determinants of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and accelerate the establishment of an unlimited source of insulin-producing pancreatic cells from stem cells that can rapidly be moved to the clinic to treat diabetes. This research program will create a centralized, multi-modal diabetes research facility at the University Health Network (UHN).

(Cell Photos: Larger photo courtesy of G. Keller, C.L. Basford, and M.B. Wheeler, Toronto General Research Institute; smaller photo courtesy of G. Keller and M.C. Nostro, McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University Health Network)

Group Members

Michael Wheeler (Program Leader)
Mark Cattral
Gordon Keller
Gary Lewis
Cristina Nostro
Jonathan Rocheleau
Minna Woo

Human Islet Cell Isolation Facility Now Open to Investigators

In 2015, the University Health Network (UHN) received over $3 million of funding to establish a dedicated Human Islet Cell Isolation Facility. The facility is now operational at the University Health Network and is located on the 4th floor of the Max Bell Research Centre adjacent to the new McEwen Centre Human Development and Disease Facility and Program. It is managed by Dr. Mark Cattral and Multi-organ Transplant at UHN, will provide researchers with quality control tested human islet cells. The facility can also assist with specialized assays to assess islet and stem-cell-derived islet cell function. 

Please contact Islet Disbursement Coordinator Dr. Ying Liu at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  for details about islet availability notifications, billing and regulatory requirements. For those wishing more information or letters of support for upcoming grants, please contact Mike Wheeler at (416) 978-6737 or  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine