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David M. Harlan, MD

David Harlan

Principal Investigator

Professor, Department of Medicine, Chief, Diabetes Division, Co-Director, UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence, William and Doris Krupp Chair in Diabetes

Diabetes Research Interests

Tolerance mechanisms and organ/tissue transplantation

Autoimmune illnesses, especially insulin dependent diabetes 

Human beta cell biology

Improving diabetes care delivery systems

For more than 30 years, Dr. Harlan has conducted both basic and clinical research exploring the pathophysiology underlying diabetes.  He has served as co-director of the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence, and chief of the Diabetes Division within the Department of Medicine since 2010.  His team has rejuvenated diabetes care at UMass Memorial, more than tripled clinic volume with the past 8 years, and developed novel communication tools to better engage patients in their own care.  Prior to UMass, he served as chief of the National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Program’s Diabetes Branch (NIDDK).

Dr. Harlan’s accomplishments and expertise are internationally acclaimed as a diabetes investigator and physician.  Within the past decade, he’s been invited to speak in Toronto, Canada; Sydney, Australia; Jouf, Saudi Arabia; Paris, France; Barcelona, Spain; Oxford and London, England; Malmo, Sweden; Rio de Janiero, Brazil; and Pune, India. 

He has served on the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Advisory Council and Medical Science Review Committee of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International.  He’s been a respected member of the Biological Response Modifiers Advisory Committee for the FDA, American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions Planning Committee (which he has chaired), and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scientific Review Board as an ad hoc member.

Dr. Harlan has received numerous honors and awards during his illustrious career including the Frank Brown Berry Prize for Federal Medicine, Legion of Merit from the United States Navy, Peter Forsham Award for Academic Excellence from the Society of Uniformed Endocrinologists, U.S. PHS Physician Researcher of the Year Award, Children with Diabetes Foundation Friend for Life Award, and Massachusetts Medical Law Report Rx for Excellence Award for “Leader in Quality”.

Diabetes Research Accomplishments

Dr. Harlan's diabetes research accomplishments have spanned a wide range, including the following highlights:

  • Developed a mouse model to study pathogenic mechanisms underlying diabetes
  • Employed non-human primate models to evaluate novel immunomodulatory approaches to prevent allograft rejection and transplanted pancreatic islet biology
  • Studied isolated human islets to disclose important structural features and functional biology, and to develop new analytical tools
  • Conducted clinical trials to test novel therapies and elucidate important human biology as it relates to diabetes and its treatment
  • Led efforts to improve diabetes care delivery for inpatients and outpatients by creating better care systems within the hospital and community providers


BS Physiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 
MD, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC, 1980
Residency and Fellowship, Duke University Medical Center