Research Faculty and Staff

DCOE Research Images

No diabetes treatment advance can supplant the ultimate goal of preventing diabetes in those at risk for the disease, or curing it for those already diagnosed.  Diabetes Center of Excellence investigators enjoy a rich and ongoing history of important basic and clinical research advances designed to elucidate the disease cause since such knowledge is the shortest path to develop effective therapies and ultimately the cure.

For information regarding Basic Science and Clinical Fellowships in the Diabetes Center of Excellence, please contact Lisa Hubacz.

Please click on the Investigator's name for more information.

Co-Directors, Diabetes Center of Excellence

David M. Harlan, M.D.
Chief, Diabetes Division, Department of Medicine
Co-Director, Diabetes Center of Excellence
William & Doris Krupp Professor of Medicine
University of Massachusetts Medical School and UMass Memorial Medical Center
Dr. Harlan’s basic research currently focuses on exploring the changes that occur within the pancreatic insulin producing cells (so called “beta cells”) as an individual develops diabetes in an effort to prevent that declining beta cell function.  His clinical research focuses on testing new diabetes treatments (e.g. “the artificial pancreas’) and developing more effective systems to deliver treatments proven to be effective but not yet sufficiently adopted by providers and/or patients.

Postdoctoral Fellows
Jenny Aurielle Babon, Ph. D.
David Blodgett, Ph.D.
Anthony Cura, Ph.D.


Dale L. Greiner, Ph.D.

Professor, Program in Molecular Medicine
Co-Director, Diabetes Center of Excellence
Dr. Eileen L. Berman and Stanley I. Berman
Foundation Chair in Biomedical Research Professor
Dr. Greiner’s basic research focuses on developing novel approaches for identifying the cause of human disease, including diabetes and cancers, and to test approaches to prevent and cure these diseases using a unique model system termed “humanized” mice that permits the study of functional human cells and tissues without putting patients at ris

Research Associates
Michael Bates
Jamie Kady
Linda Paquin
Darcy Reil
Pamela St. Louis


Research Faculty

Laura C. Alonso, M.D.
Associate Professor of Medicine
Director, Beta Cell Biological Studies
Dr. Alonso’s research is focused on finding ways to expand beta cell mass to treat diabetes. In particular, we study how nutrients such as glucose and fatty acids affect the generation of new beta cells.

Postdoctoral Fellow
Rohit Sharma, Ph.D.

Research Lab Technician
Binh Ha, B.A.
Rachel Stamateris, B.S.



Rita B. Bortell. Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Program in Molecular Medicine
Dr. Bortell’s research investigations use rodent models and immunodeficient mice engrafted with human islets and/or human immune systems to understand the cellular processes that contribute to pancreatic beta cell dysfunction during diabetes development and interrogate potential therapies to treat or prevent the disease.

Research Associates
Linda Leehy
Elaine Norowski
Natalia Przewozniak




Michael A. Brehm, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Program in Molecular Medicine
Dr. Brehm studies the biological mechanisms that control human immune responses to infectious agents and transplanted non-self tissues.  To investigate these mechanisms we are using humanized mouse models that contain functional human immune systems.  The humanized mice are generated using immunodeficient mice, which are engrafted with either human hematopoietic stem cells or with mature human immune cells.  These humanized mouse models allow the direct study of human immunity that is not possible with patients.

Senior Research Scientist
Laurence Covassin, Ph.D.

Ph.D. students
Ken-Edwin Aryee
Philip Durost
Sonal Jangalwe
Suheyla Hasgur (visiting)

Research Associates
Meghan Dolan
Rabia Lindstrom



Agata Jurczyk, Ph.D.

Instructor, Program in Molecular Medicine
Dr. Jurczyk’s research is focused on mechanisms of insulin secretion in pancreatic beta cells.

Sally. C. Kent, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Dr. Kent’s research focus is on understanding the frequency, function, and characteristics of autoreactive lymphocytes in peripheral blood, spleen and pancreatic draining lymph nodes in human Type 1 diabetes with an emphasis on monitoring these characteristics during therapeutic interventions.

Research Lab Technician 1
Megan DeNicola, B.S.



René Maehr, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Program in Molecular Medicine
Dr. Maehr’s research is focused using human pluripotent stem cells to understand development and immune syndromes in vitro and in humanized mouse systems.

Senior Research Scientist
Meng-Jiao Shi

Ph.D. students
Ryan M. J. Genga
Nicola A. Kearns

Research Associate
Jie H. Li
Hannah Pham



Louis M. Messina, M.D.

Chief, Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, UMass Memorial Medical Center
Professor of Surgery, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Vice Chair, General Surgery, UMass Memorial Medical Center
Dr. Messina's lab focuses on the role of hematopoietic and mesenchymal stem cells in the blood flow recovery and wound healing in a type II diabetes model, with a focus on the consequences of oxidant stress intrinsic to this disease state on stem cell function and fate.

Clinical Fellow
Ting Yu Xu, M.D.

Guodong Tie Ph.D.
Jinglian Yan, Ph.D.

Research Associates
Katharine Cecchini, B.S.
Shouying Wang, B.S



Michael Thompson, M.D.

Associate Professor of Medicine
Dr. Thompson’s research is focused on the development of new diabetes treatment approaches.

Chaoxing Yang, Ph.D.
Instructor, Program in Molecular Medicine
Dr. Yang’s long-term research goals are to develop a non-invasive screening system for early identification of children at risk for Type 1 diabetes and to develop and validate effective prevention strategies using a robust virus inducible type 1 diabetes animal model.

Administrative Staff

Patricia Cannon, Executive Secretary to the Chair
Jenna Gerrish, Grant & Contract Specialist I
Lisa Hubacz, Academic Administrator I
Leslie Kozloski, Clinical Data Coordinator 1

Images (left to right):
Human islets transplanted under murine kidney capsule (R. Bortell)
Murine islet cells (L. Alonso)
Lymphocytes infiltrating rat islet (C. Yang)
Mouse islet (A. Jurczyk)

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