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Researcher Spotlight: Sushobhana Bandyopadhyay, PhD

Date Posted: Wednesday, March 03, 2021

In the following video Dr. Bandyopadhyay explains how the Brehm Lab is using human cells to better understand the autoimmune attack that occurs in people with T1D

Sushobhana Bandyopadhyay UMass Diabetes

Born in India, Sushobhana grew up in a family of physicians. From a young age, she preferred the scientific side of medicine and aspired to produce data that will helps doctors improve care for their patients. Chemistry was her favorite subject in high school, and she continued her education in India by getting her bachelor's degree in chemistry and master’s in biochemistry. 

“What fascinated me most about biochemistry, is it allows us to see the final effect of the whole process,” she said. “It’s the link between chemistry and biology.”   

Dr. Bandyopadhyay earned her PhD in biochemistry researching the various phases of cell cycles. She moved to the United States in 2016 for a postdoc position at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. There she studied the interaction between protein kinase and substrates.

“Towards the end of my project I realized I wanted to get involved with translational research that could eventually lead to pre-clinical studies,” Dr. Bandyopadhyay said. “That’s when I learned about the opening in the Brehm Lab in the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence, and the immunology research they were doing studying human cells in their ‘humanized’ mouse models.”

The science was different than anything she had been involved with prior, however, Dr. Bandyopadhyay is a self-proclaimed “quick learner,” and knew she’d pick it up quickly. 

“I knew from our first meeting that Sushobhana was excited about the work we’re doing, and you can’t teach the enthusiasm and motivation that she possesses,” said Michael Brehm, PhD, The Robert and Sandra Glass Term Chair in Diabetes, Associate Professor, Program in Molecular Medicine and Co-Director of the Humanized Mouse Core Facility at UMass Medical School. “She’s now conducting experiments in which we transplant stem cell-derived pancreatic cells and immune cells into our humanized mice, and we hope to learn for the very first first time, how, when and where the autoimmune process occurs in people with type 1 diabetes.”  

Scientists first cured diabetes in mice in the 1970’s, however, that success in rodents hasn’t translated to human type 1 diabetes. “Our humanized mice studies are very exciting and they were one of the most attractive parts of this postdoc position for me,” said Dr. Bandyopadhyay. “Not until we achieve successful therapies to stop the autoimmune process in these animals, will we be able to progress to the clinic to help patients.” 

The second thing that attracted her to the Brehm Lab was watching an online video, in which Dr. Brehm talks about living with type 1 diabetes himself and what it would mean to eradicate the disease.

Despite joining the Brehm Lab in January 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Bandyopadhyay is impressed by the collaborative environment at the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence.

“Our lab meets regularly via Zoom with the other labs within the DCOE, and also with our collaborators at other institutions, such as the Harvard Stem Cell Institute,” she said. “We discuss various experiments we’re planning, and it’s so important and helpful to receive input from these internationally respected experts in their field.” 

Related Articles:

JDRF New England Center of Excellence Includes Five UMass Medical School Scientists Working to Cure Type 1 Diabetes

Modeling Type 1 Diabetes Using Human Stem Cells in the Brehm and Greiner Labs

 

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