HIRN Enhancement 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). Starting with the HIRN formation in 2014, members of our department have participated as the HIRN Coordinating Center (CC) and Bioinformatics Center (BC) with Drs. Joyce Niland and John Kaddis as the respective Principal Investigators. In 2019, we received funding to continue as Human Islet Research Enhancement Center (HIREC). This combined entity represents a renewal of support for HIRN and provides a centralized organizational and administrative infrastructure, an information technology platform, and a research dissemination engine to address the burgeoning needs of the program for the next five years. The HIREC will assist in cultivating and facilitating science within HIRN and will be co-led by Drs. Joyce Niland and John Kaddis and Layla Rouse as the Program Manager. 
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 (CBDS)
  • Consortium on Human Islet Biomimetics (CHIB)
  • Consortium on Modeling Autoimmune Interactions (CMAI)
  • Consortium on Targeting and Regeneration (CTAR)
  • Human Pancreas Analysis Consortium (HPAC)
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.

Role of HIRN

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.

Impact of HIRN

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

For Investigators

HIREC Team: (left to right) Julie Hom (Research Analyst), Nelly Berger (Project Assistant), Anh Vu Nguyen (Data Curator), John Kaddis, PhD (co-PI), Joyce Niland, PhD (co-PI), Cynthia Aragundi (Financial Analyst), Layla Rouse, MS (Program Manager), Dave Ko (Programmer)