Bio-X SIGF Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2022
Home Department: Immunology
Faculty Advisors: Seung Kim (Developmental Biology), Everett Meyer (Medicine - Blood & Marrow Transplantation and Pediatrics - Stem Cell Transplantation), Judith Shizuru (Medicine - Blood & Marrow Transplantation and Pediatrics - Stem Cell Transplantation), and Kyle Loh (Developmental Biology)

Research Title: Pseudoislet Manufacturing and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant to Advance Islet Transplantation

Research Description: Pancreatic cell clusters known as islets are essential for production of the hormone insulin. Islet transplantation for diabetes is inhibited by the lack of translatable strategies to 1) expand functional islet mass after isolation from pancreas donors and 2) promote immune tolerance of transplanted islets without chronic systemic immunosuppression. In Aim 1, Preksha proposes to address the first issue with the fabrication of organoid-like archetypes, called ‘pseudoislets,’ to improve the engraftment, blood vessel growth, and function of islets in a live host and reduce the islet mass required for diabetes reversal. In Aim 2, she proposes to use reduced-intensity bone marrow conditioning protocols to enable hematopoietic stem cell engraftment and islet tolerance in a diabetic mouse model. Success of this work will improve upon pancreatic islet transplantation strategies to develop a more sustainable treatment for diabetes.