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Molecular Virology & Microbiology - Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research

Houston, Texas

A BCM research lab.
Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology
not shown on screen

Project: Microbiome and Type 1 Diabetes

University Association: The University of Florida, College of Medicine
Collaborator Name: Mark Atkinson, Ph.D.

Dr. Atkinson is an eminent scholar for diabetes research at The University of Florida. As part of this effort, he serves as co-director for The Diabetes Center of Excellence at this institution. He is the author of over 275 publications and is beginning his 28th year of investigation into the field of type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes. He is the recipient of multiple scientific and humanitarian based awards for these efforts.

As part of this, he spends time with persons with or caring for those with type 1 diabetes, addressing their questions and sharing his passion and desire to see a cure for the disease. In addition, he serves as one of two international “Ambassadors” for Life for a Child, the world’s leading not for profit dedicated to provisioning of diabetes supplies to countries where insulin access is limited.

A majority of Dr. Atkinson research efforts have examined the role for the immune response in type 1 diabetes. Highlights of this period include being amongst the first to describe T cell responses to specific beta cell antigens, alterations in cytokine production, defects in cellular communication, and alterations in immunoregulatory function. He has played a major contributory role, direct or indirect, for the bench to bedside translation of seven clinical trials thus far attempted in humans with type 1 diabetes (i.e., prophylactic insulin, glutamic acid decarboxylase, cord blood, cord blood plus Omega-3 FA, GCSF, ATG + GCSF). This, combined with his experience in trial design, membership with NIH funded clinical trial organizations (e.g., membership of Immune Tolerance Network Steering Committee, membership at NIH TrialNet including chair of Prioritization Committee) and familiarity with industry perspectives.

In addition, he has been active in areas related to identifying the role for environment in the pathogenesis of this disease. He has been partnered with Dr. Richard Lloyd and Dr. Joe Petrosino, from Baylor College of Medicine. This interaction, initially brought together, through my service as director of the new JDRF Microbiome Consortium. In addition, as the director of JDRF nPOD; an organization with much in the way of experience in terms of utilizing SOP and operating under GLP conditions, are well positioned to work with investigators in the Alkek Center to address many questions related to type 1 diabetes pathogenesis.