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Research Division Associate




 
Richard Benninger, PhD
 Primary Appointment: Associate Professor of Bionengineering
 Secondary Appointment: Associate Professor of Pediatrics


Lab Website at College of Engineering & Applied Science


Front Row L-R:  V. Pham, V. Kravets, L. Papazian, J. Dwulet, N. Farnsworth, J. Miranda  
Back Row L-R:  D. Enge, R. Benninger, D. Ramirez, R. Piscopio, W. Schleicher

Our lab's primary research goals involve understanding how the pancreatic islet functions and how the islet becomes dysfunctional during the development of diabetes. Our goal is to improve both clinical diagnostics and therapeutic treatments for patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as well as rarer monogenic forms of diabetes. One of our main areas of research is to understand how interactions between cells within the islet control the dynamics and regulation of insulin secretion. This includes the development and application of novel fluorescence imaging strategies, optogenetics and computational models of islet function. Applied together these allow us to understand how genetic and environmental perturbations linked to diabetes can cause islet dysfunction and discover novel ways to overcome this dysfunction. Another main area of research is to examine factors associated with islet function that are disrupted early in the progression of T1D, prior to the clinical onset of disease, as a result of β-cell autoimmunity. We are further testing whether correcting for disruption to these factors can protect against β-cell death and blunt the onset of diabetes. Based on our current understanding of islet dysfunction in diabetes we are also working to develop in vivo imaging techniques that will allow us to identify and monitor islet dysfunction in the early-stages of diabetes progression for both identifying pre-clinical signs of diabetes prior to overt diabetes onset and for following the efficacy of diabetic treatment interventions over time. Finally we are also examining biophysical and physiological factors underlying islet function that are disrupted early in T2D progression or are present in pre-diabetes, to discover new and novel ways of preserving β-cell function and islet mass for preventative treatments. Thus through understanding novel aspects in the way the islet functions, in part through bringing together new technologies and approaches, we hope to discover ways in which islet function and mass can be preserved to diagnose, treat or prevent different forms of diabetes.  

Lab Members:
Principle Investigator: Richard KP Benninger, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow: Nikki Farnsworth, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow: Jose Miranda​, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow: Vira Kravets, PhD
Professional Research Assistant: Robert Piscopio
Professional Research Assistant: Wolf Schleicher
PhD Student, Bioengineering: David Ramirez
PhD Student, Bioengineering: JaeAnn Dwulet
MS Student, Bioengineering: Danny Enge
MS Student, Bioengineering: Vinh Pham​

Publications

Education:
PhD, Imperial College London (2006)
Postdoctoral Fellowship: Vanderbilt University (2011)

Please direct inquiries to specific e-mail addresses listed within individual entries. For all other general Research inquiries, please contact: Patricia Dodson​