Joslin Diabetes Center
Rohit N. Kulkarni, M.D., Ph.D. (Joslin Diabetes Center, Islet Cell & Regenerative Biology) leads a group that is geared towards investigating and defining signaling pathways that are modulated by growth factors, nutrients, and hormones in the regulation of islet biology with a focus on islet cell proliferation and function. The Kulkarni Lab has created and characterized multiple unique mouse models of diabetes to complement murine and human cell lines to understand and define growth factor signaling networks that modulate survival and proliferation of beta and alpha cells. His group has developed assays to specifically evaluate beta-cell mass and secretory function including human islet cell transplantation in humanized mouse models, and undertaken studies to explore inter-organ communication especially with an interest in cross-talk between the liver and white and brown adipose and pancreatic islets; and used a unique parabiosis model to identify putative circulating factors that promote beta cell proliferation. A major area of interest is the generation of human induced pluripotent stem cells for interrogating the differentiation of cells towards the endocrine lineage as well as to understand the pathophysiology that underlies diabetes and its complications. A related area is investigating the alpha cells to understand the pathways that regulate glucagon secretion and hypoglycemia. In sum, the long-term goal of his lab is to develop approaches to regenerate islet cell mass aimed at preventing and/or delaying the progression of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and metabolic disorders.