Profiles of BBDC Members Primarily Involved In Diabetes Research

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Irwin, David M. - PhD

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology

Contact Information:
Medical Sciences Building room 6211
1 King's College Circle
Toronto, ON   M5S 1A8

Phone: 416-978-0519

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Research in the Irwin lab focuses on the evolution of genes involved in diabetes. Many of the genes and proteins (e.g., the proglucagon-derived peptides glucagon, GLP-1, and GLP-2) involved in glucose metabolism are related yet have differing function. By examining the origin and evolution of these genes we hope to identify portions of the sequences important for their unique functions. We are also interested in role of liver-specific glucokinase in glucose metabolism. We are currently using comparative and molecular approaches to identify regulatory sequences essential for regulation of expression, including insulin induction, of the glucokinase gene in the liver.

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Jenkins, David J. A. - MD, PhD

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Professor, Departments of Medicine and Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine

Other Appointment(s): Director of Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre, St. Michael's Hospital

Contact Information:

St. Michael's Hospital Risk Factor Modification Centre
61 Queen Street East
6th Floor, Room 6133Q
Toronto, Ontario M5C 2T2

Phone: 416-867-7475
Fax: 416-867-7495

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Dr. Jenkins research area is the use of diet in the prevention and treatment of hyperlipidemia and diabetes. He has over 200 original publications on these and related topics.  His team was the first to define and explore the concept of the glycemic index of foods and demonstrate the breadth of metabolic effects of viscous soluble fiber, including blood glucose and cholesterol lowering.  His studies on combining cholesterol lowering food components (dietary portfolio) have been recognized as creating an effective dietary alternative to drug therapy (statins) for many people and was the only dietary approach referenced in the update of the guidelines of the US National Cholesterol Education Program (ATP III).

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Jin, Tianru

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism

Contact Information:

MaRS Centre, Toronto Medical Discovery Tower
101 College Street
Room 10-354
Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1L7

Phone: 416-581-7670

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

A) Mechanisms Underlying the Production and Function of the Incretin Hormone GLP-1. The proglucagon gene (Gcg) encodes three major peptide hormones, namely glucagon (produced in pancreas), glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and GLP-2 (both are produced mainly in intestines). These hormones exert opposite or overlapping functions in controlling blood homeostasis, food intake, cell growth and proliferation. Based on the features of GLP-1, two new categories of drugs, namely GLP-1 analogues and DPP-IV inhibitors, have been developed for T2D treatment. We are exploring mechanisms underlying the production and function of peptide hormones encoded by Gcg, including GLP-1. We are now studying the role of Wnt signalling and the crosstalk between Wnt and other signalling pathways in regulating the expression and function of GLP-1.

B) Mechanisms Underlying the Expression and Function of the Lipogenic Gene Carbohydrates Response Element Binding Protein (ChREBP). The transcription factor ChREBP is a "master controller" of lipogenic genes that encode a battery of enzymes for converting carbohydrates into lipids. The function of ChREBP can be turned on by hyperglycemia and its expression was shown to be increased in obesity and hyperinsulinemia animal models. We are studying molecular mechanisms underlying the expression of ChREBP and its targets.

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Josse, Robert G. - BSc, MB, BS, FRCP, FRCPC, FACP, FACE

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Sciences

Other Appointment(s): Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, St. Michael's Hospital

Contact Information: , ON

Phone: 416-867-7455
Fax: 416-867-3696

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Often with an emphasis in clinical nutrition, I have obtained peer review and non peer review grants (mostly Phase II and III pharmaceutically funded multicentre national and international studies) as Principal, Co-principal or Co-investigator. These studies have investigated the effects of various new drugs on diabetes control, hyperlipidemia and prevention and treatment of diabetes complications. I have been particularly interested in the nutritional management of diabetes with other colleagues in the Department of Nutritional Sciences (Jenkins, Wolever). We have promulgated the concept of the glycemic index of foods and the importance of meal frequency as therapeutic principles.

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Kilkenny, Dawn M. - PhD

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Associate Director - Undergraduate (IBBME)
Lecturer (IBBME)
Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME); and Department of Medicine

Other Appointment(s):  

Contact Information:

164 College Street
407 Rosebrugh
Toronto, ON M5S 3G9

Phone: 416-978-8835
Fax: 416-978-4317

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

My research interest is focused on Fibroblast Growth Factor receptor (FGFR) expression and signaling in adult beta cells. We have identified control of FGFR1-expression and -signaling by modifications in the beta-cell extracellular microenvironment. We are now investigating the role of the novel kinase-deficient FGFR5 isoform in the regulation of beta-cell FGFR1-signalling. Using insulin-secreting cell lines, we have expression of FGFR5 at both the cell membrane as well as in association with insulin secretory granules. Expression of FGFR5 enhances classical intracellular FGF-mediated signaling pathways, cellular matrix adhesion as well as insulin content. Expression of a 'dominant-negative' (kinase-deficient) isoform of classical FGFR1 (similar in structure to FGFR5) has been shown to induce a diabetic phenotype in mice. Taken together, these data promote our interest in defining the role that FGFRs play in normal beta-cell maintenance and insulin secretion. We currently examine this receptor signaling system using methods of fluorescence microscopy (live-cell and fixed) both in vitro as well as in vivo (whole islet), and verify our results in combination with traditional biochemical techniques.

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