Department of Pharmacology
Basic Science Building, Rm. 21
15 Dana Road, Valhalla, NY 10595
Despite the widespread belief that beta cells are completely lost in the latter stage of type 1 diabetes (T1D), this is not always true. Evidence shows that patients with long-term T1D (>50 years) exhibit persistent insulin-positive beta cells that are able to survive and even replicate. The major thrust of the Dirice Lab is to elucidate the role of heterogeneity in beta cells and their vitality and dysfunction, particularly in diabetes. Of acute interest is the utilization of naturally occurring mechanisms regulating beta cell survival and their resistance to stress-mediated apoptosis. Certain beta cell subpopulations which uniquely facilitate specialized tasks to adapt or protect themselves during different physiologic and pathophysiologic conditions have the potential to be harnessed to develop novel therapeutic approaches that protect against beta cell loss; the characteristic phenomenon in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes (T2D). While recent studies have increased our understanding of β-cell heterogeneity, we need to further harness technological advances and smart study designs to characterize and exploit β-cell heterogeneity in therapies for T1D and T2D. Dr. Dirice has a long record of work in islet biology, especially in utilizing methods of research like transgenic mouse models, islet isolation and transplantation, and genetic analysis. His more recent research has contributed to the progression of understanding beta cell proliferation and survival through chemical and physiological means. In these works, he has reported the protection against diabetes from preemptive beta cell population growth, the anti-infiltration effect of HDAC3 on diabetic islets, and the role of DYRK1A in stimulation human beta cell reproduction.