The Department of Molecular & Cellular Endocrinology is pioneering efforts to investigate biological mechanisms involved with the development of type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and obesity — and ways to treat them. Our findings may lead to therapies that reverse or prevent diabetes and obesity, as well as tools for early detection.
The department was established in 2015 by founding chair Debbie C. Thurmond, Ph.D., Chan Soon-Shiong Shapiro Distinguished Chair in Diabetes and director of the Arthur Riggs Diabetes and Metabolism Research Institute. Since March 2023, the department has been chaired by Adolfo Garcia-Ocana, Ph.D., Ruth B. & Robert K. Lanman Endowed Chair in Gene Regulation & Drug Discovery Research.
Operating within the Riggs Institute at City of Hope, our multidisciplinary team incorporates expertise in molecular and cellular biology, physiology, biochemistry and pharmacology. Our scientists have received grant support from the National Institutes of Health, JDRF, the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association. As a hub for research, we also are proudly funded by The Wanek Family Project
for Type 1 Diabetes at City of Hope.
We research the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes by exploring the communication between organs—down to the molecular level. By developing ways to foster healthy insulin production, our studies hold promise for fighting type 1 diabetes as well. Because diabetes and obesity share common mechanisms that are involved in certain malignancies, some of our work also has implications for combatting cancer.
One of our key priorities is to bridge the gap between the laboratory to translational research. Collaboration is key for us — within the department, within the Riggs Institute and within City of Hope, as well as with colleagues at other academic medical centers.
A key enabling factor for our team-based strategy is our physical environment. All faculty work in open-lab configurations within the Leslie & Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes & Genetic Research Center, making it easy to consult and connect. And our alliance with our neighbors in City of Hope’s Islet Cell Transplantation Program create special opportunities for our discoveries to improve the health of diabetes patients faster.