Human Islet Resource Network Coordinating Center

2014 to 2019

Beta cells are a subset of the islet cells native to the pancreas. They are crucial to metabolism because they produce the insulin needed to process sugars, regulating the body’s energy supply.
A better understanding of beta cells — and why they die off in type 1 diabetes — is fundamental to the scientific and medical community’s efforts to cure the disease. To advance investigations into type 1 diabetes, the National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Disease and the Type 1 Diabetes Statutory Funding Program created the Human Islet Research Network (HIRN) in 2014.
The HIRN’s mission is to create new knowledge about how type 1 diabetes results in the loss of beta cells in humans and to develop new strategies for protecting or replacing those cells in people with diabetes. The program helps fund teams of researchers focusing on key questions:
  • Consortium on Beta Cell Death and Survival
  • Consortium on Human Islet Biomimetics
  • Consortium on Modeling Autoimmune Interactions
  • Consortium on Targeting and Regeneration
  • Human Pancreas Analysis Consortium
The Coordinating Center for HIRN is based in City of Hope’s Department of Diabetes & Cancer Discovery Science, with Joyce Niland, Ph.D., holder of the Edward &Estelle Alexander Chair in Information Sciences, serving as principal investigator. The HIRN Bioinformatics Center also is based within Department of Diabetes & Cancer Discovery Science, with John Kaddis, Ph.D. serving as principal investigator.

Our Role

At the HIRN Coordinating and Bioinformatics Centers, we provide research infrastructure and resources for the consortia.
This includes the essential task of keeping researchers connected and in communication — helping them to share ideas, data and resources internally among consortia as well as externally with the scientific community at large.
The HIRN Coordinating Center convenes meetings, workshops and working groups fostering interactions that blossom into new collaborations that push forward innovative research to fight type 1 diabetes.

Our Impact

HIRN research as of August 2018:
  • 35 grants from the National Institutes of Health
  • More than 110 investigators in five countries
  • 265 publications to date