The Department of Diabetes & Cancer Discovery Science has a grant portfolio of $27 million in active support, funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Currently funded grants are:
Principal Investigator, Human Islet Research Network (HIRN) Coordinating Center ($5 million)
City of Hope serves as the HIRN Coordinating Center (CC), to support HIRN’s goal of developing innovative strategies for the treatment, prevention and cure of type 1 diabetes (T1D). The HIRN-CC provides critical infrastructure to promote communication and collaboration among current and future HIRN participants, facilitating scientific advances and fostering the sharing of data, tools and reagents among HIRN members and the research community at large. To support the HIRN mission, the HIRN-CC works collaboratively with the HIRN Bioinformatics Center (HIRN-BC) to form the HIRN Administrative Hub, under the guidance of the HIRN advisory committees and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The CC facilitates scientific collaboration through organization of an annual scientific retreat, and promotes sharing of data, materials and resources across the HIRN Consortia and the T1D scientific community through development of a leading-edge HIRN website and data-repository linkage, with search and visualization tools. The HIRN-CC will forge partnerships with related initiatives such as the Integrated Islet Distribution Program (IIDP) to leverage existing resources.
Co-Principal Investigator, Human Islet Research Network (HIRN) Bioinformatics Center ($2,499,509)
To accelerate progress in understanding and treating human type 1 diabetes (T1D), relevant biological data must be organized, exchanged and analyzed efficiently, a challenging and high-priority need. To accomplish this goal, we are building upon our expertise and experience in biomedical informatics to establish the Human Islet Research Network Bioinformatics Center (HIRN-BC) within the Department of Information Sciences at City of Hope. The overall objective of the HIRN BC is to advance T1D knowledge generated through HIRN by providing the bioinformatics capability and infrastructure needed to support this consortium for the next five years and beyond. The BC provides data collaboration and communication tools to address these barriers to informatics support for diabetes research. The specific aims are to provide consultation, informatics infrastructure and data and imaging archival and sharing, performed in close collaboration with the HIRN Coordinating Center (HIRN-CC), as well as in consultation with all HIRN Committees.
Principal Investigator, Helmsley Charitable Trust Conference Grant ($228,000)
HIRN focuses on research that will lead to a greater understanding of the early stages of the type 1 diabetes disease process in humans. This conference grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust will facilitate HIRN investigators’ participation in the annual meeting and scientific retreat, allowing them to collaborate and advance their work. The conferences will provide opportunities for exchange of scientific ideas, foster collaborations, generate additional joint projects and help support junior investigators who may not otherwise be able to attend. HIRN conferences will keep the network’s investigators apprised of one another’s findings and progress.
Principal Investigator, Intestinal Stem Cell Consortium Coordinating Center & Pilot Projects ($3,474,416)
The scientific goals of the Intestinal Stem Cell Consortium (ISCC) are to: 1) isolate, characterize, culture and validate populations of intestinal stem cells; 2) answer major questions in stem-cell biology of the intestinal epithelium, and 3) accelerate research by making information and resources available to the research community. Long-term goals include: 1) to contribute to greater understanding of stem-cell biology through knowledge of the intestine as a model stem cell-driven system, and 2) lay the groundwork for therapeutic manipulation of the intestinal epithelium. Under Niland’s direction, the ISCC Data Coordinating Center (DCC) provides coordination, web development, statistical design, protocol standardization and statistical analysis/manuscript preparation.
Principal Investigator, Integrated Islet Distribution Program (IIDP) ($15 million; $40 million total awards over 10 years)
The IIDP serves the biomedical research community by providing investigators with access to human islets to enhance knowledge of islet cell biology. Project goals include: 1) to establish a coordinating center that provides for the distribution of human cadaveric islets for laboratory research, 2) to assure continued islet availability to the medical research community and 3) to develop and maintain a financial system that both collects and disburses respective receivables and expenditures. For this project, Niland led the development of a unique automated web-based islet distribution system that optimizes the availability of high-quality islets for approved investigators nationwide, and monitors and balances the supply-and-demand ratio. Several publications have resulted from this initiative, and a robust validated shipping methodology to avoid degradation of the islets during transport has been developed and published.