Research Summary

IBRI DIABETES CENTER (IDC)

Focus: The molecular basis of diabetes

Researchers in the IBRI Diabetes Center (IDC) focus on the molecular basis of diabetes and its complications, including mechanisms for beta cell regeneration. The IDC is highly collaborative and structured to support basic science research seeking to understand the disease while achieving technological breakthroughs in the way we diagnose, treat and manage diabetes in Indiana and beyond.

The IDC includes the lab of the center administrative director, Robert Considine, PhD, the Considine Lab, the lab of the center scientific director, Decio Eizirik, MD, PhD, the Eizirik Lab, the Lilly Diabetes Center of Excellence (LDCE), a collaboration between Eli Lilly and Company, Indiana University School of Medicine and the IBRI, the Flak Lab, the Witczak Lab and the Templin Lab.

The IDC aims to become a nexus of strategically aligned basic diabetes research in Indianapolis and the state. 

Lab Team

Robert Considine

Robert Considine, PhD

Administrative Director, IBRI Diabetes Center

Robert Considine

Robert Considine, PhD

Administrative Director, IBRI Diabetes Center

Robert V. Considine, Ph.D., joined the Division of Endocrinology at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, Ind., as an Assistant Professor in 1997 and was promoted to Professor in 2013. Prior to his appointment at the IU School of Medicine, he was on the faculty of the Department of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pa., where he had completed his doctoral training.

Dr. Considine’s research is focused on understanding the contribution of obesity to the development of diabetes and its complications. In early work, his lab made seminal observations about the function of the adipose tissue hormone leptin in humans.  More recently, the Considine Lab has focused on the effects of bariatric surgery to alter gut hormone release and improve glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity.  In collaboration with David Kareken, Ph.D., at the IU School of Medicine, Dr. Considine is also utilizing neuroimaging techniques to understand the reward system response to food cues in human subjects.  

Dr. Considine is currently the Associate Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Diabetes Center at the IU School of Medicine, and oversees the Analyte Laboratory, which provides quantitation of adipokines, cytokines, gut peptides and hormones from human and animal samples.  He is also the Statewide Director for Endocrine and Reproductive Biology, a second-year course in the IU School of Medicine curriculum. 

Stephane Demine

Stephane Demine

Postdoctoral Fellow, IBRI Diabetes Center

Stephane Demine

Stephane Demine

Postdoctoral Fellow, IBRI Diabetes Center

Stephane Demine is a postdoctoral fellow working in the Lilly Diabetes Center of Excellence located here in the Diabetes Center. He works with Decio Eizirik, whom he partnered with at the University of Brussels.

While at the University of Brussels, he helped to identify new biomarkers suitable for the in vivo imaging of pancreatic beta cells, in collaboration with other universities (University of Mons, University of Brussels (VIB)) and industrial partners (Eurogentec). The most-advanced probe, a short camelid antibody targeting DPP6, was recently shown to accumulate in human beta cells grafted in mice and to correlate with the number of cells transplanted. The preclinical development of these probes is continuing at the IBRI Diabetes Center.

He also focused on the characterization of beta cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). He showed that human iPSC-derived beta cells respond to pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β + IFNγ and IFNα), by activating the same pathogenic processes as adult human primary beta cells. These cells thus represent a valuable tool for future research on the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. His future goal is to use this cell model to better understand how some single nucleotide polymorphisms are associated to type 1 diabetes developments.

Stephane obtained his PhD at the University of Namur in Belgium in 2016, where he worked extensively on the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms triggered by a mild mitochondrial uncoupling in white adipocytes, a new anti-obesity therapeutic approach.

Decio Eizirik

Decio Eizirik, MD, PhD

Scientific Director, IBRI Diabetes Center

Decio Eizirik

Decio Eizirik, MD, PhD

Scientific Director, IBRI Diabetes Center

Dr. Eizirik is a Professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) Center for Diabetes Research, Brussels, Belgium, and a member of the ULB medical faculty. He is also an Investigator for the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute (IBRI) and Scientific Director of the IBRI Diabetes Center.

He has published more than 370 full papers and reviews in peer-reviewed international journals and has received several national and international prizes, including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Diabetes Care Research Award in 1998; the “2012 Albert Renold Prize Lecture for Outstanding Achievements in Research on the Islets of Langerhans” awarded by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in 2012, and the “2013 Rumbough Award for outstanding achievements in type 1 diabetes research” awarded by the JDRF.

Dr. Eizirik is listed by the ISI Essential Science Indicators among the 1 percent most cited scientists in Clinical Medicine and Biology & Biochemistry, with an h-index of 81. He has served as Honorary (Scientific) Secretary of the EASD and as Deputy Editor of Diabetologia, the official journal of the EASD. His research focuses on the molecular mechanisms regulating insulitis and beta cell apoptosis in type 1 diabetes, pancreatic beta cell imaging, generation of beta cells from inducible pluripotent cells and on the search for novel approaches to prevent the progressive loss of beta cell mass in diabetes.

Parker Evans

Parker Evans

PhD Student, IBRI Diabetes Center

Parker Evans

Parker Evans

PhD Student, IBRI Diabetes Center

Parker Evans is a Bioenergetics and Exercise Science PhD student in Carol Witczak’s lab. He is working with Carol to complete his research for his PhD, which focuses on the subcellular localization of Glucose Transporter 6 (GLUT6) in skeletal muscle, as well as the role of GLUT6 in functional overload, a rodent model of resistance exercise.

Prior to joining the IBRI, Parker was a presenter at the FASEB Science Research Conference focused on The Regulation of Glucose Metabolism. His presentation centered around research about how female mice are protected against high fat diet-induced hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance but not hyperglycemia or glucose intolerance compared to males.

Parker obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, in 2017.

Jonathan Flak

Jonathan Flak

Assistant Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center

Jonathan Flak

Jonathan Flak

Assistant Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center

Jonathan Flak joined the IBRI in September 2019. Immediately upon arrival he began setting up his own lab within the IBRI Diabetes Center. In his lab, Jonathan will focus on studying the central nervous system’s regulation of glucose metabolism as it relates to diabetes.

More specifically, Jonathan will build on work he began at the University of Michigan that is aimed at distinguishing markers for ventromedial hypothalamic neurons involved in glycemic regulation from the rest of the nucleus, a known brain area critical to balancing glucose, to help determine new targets/brain systems that may prove important in future therapeutics. He plans to identify the downstream systems from these subsets of ventromedial hypothalamic neurons to establish the mechanisms of how the brain can tune metabolic function (e.g. energy expenditure, glucose uptake and glucose mobilization).

Prior to establishing his lab here at the IBRI, Jonathan worked in the lab of Martin Myers at the University of Michigan. This project was an outgrowth from his work in this lab, where he began using cre-dependent mouse models and viral systems to study leptin action in the brainstem periaqueductal gray and lateral parabrachial nuclei. His work with Prof. Myers led to research published in Nature Neuroscience and the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Jonathan received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biopsychology and Cognitive Sciences with honors from the University of Michigan in 2004. And, he obtained his PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Cincinnati in 2011.

Austin House

Austin House

Research Associate, IBRI Diabetes Center

Austin House

Austin House

Research Associate, IBRI Diabetes Center

Austin House joined the IBRI in July 2020 as a Research Associate in the IBRI Diabetes Center (IDC). He is part of a team focused on the molecular basis of diabetes and its complications, including mechanisms for beta cell regeneration. He and the IDC team are seeking to understand the disease while achieving technological breakthroughs in the way we diagnose, treat and manage diabetes in Indiana and beyond.

Prior to joining the IBRI, he served as a graduate research assistant at Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, which is where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2018 and just recently received his master’s degree in pharmacology.

Austin has a background in bioassays including qPCR, ELISA, calcium and nitrite assays. He also is experienced in cell culturing, CRISPR-Cas9 and plasmid cloning techniques. His recent work has been to evaluate an immortalized microglia cell model activated with LPS and treated with a drug toward the determination of whether treatment affects inflammatory pathways.

David Johnson

David Johnson

Assistant Research Associate, IBRI Diabetes Center

David Johnson

David Johnson

Assistant Research Associate, IBRI Diabetes Center

David Johnson joined the IBRI in November 2019 as an assistant research associate in the IBRI Diabetes Center (IDC). In this role, he will work with Johnathan Flak to study the central nervous system’s regulation of glucose metabolism as it relates to diabetes.

David was previously a study technician at Covance Laboratories in Greenfield, IN, where he performed absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME), good laboratory practice and toxicology research studies. He also was responsible for the collection and documentation of pertinent data, including test material administration, sample collections and sample processing. While studying at Michigan State University, he served as a teaching assistant in the Charles Drew Science Scholars Program and was an undergraduate research intern in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

David received his bachelor’s degree in neuroscience – cognitive and computational from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich.

Daniel Preston

Daniel Preston

Research Associate, IBRI Diabetes Center

Daniel Preston

Daniel Preston

Research Associate, IBRI Diabetes Center

Daniel Preston joined the IBRI in July 2020 as a Research Associate in the lab of Dr. Decio Eizirik in the IBRI Diabetes Center. He is part of a team responsible for maintaining and differentiating inducible pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), deriving pancreatic beta cells and conducting functional studies utilizing iPSCs.

Prior to joining the IBRI, he worked as a molecular biologist for Advanced Testing Laboratories in the Lilly Research Labs, identifying novel biomarkers and studying their roles in several autoimmune diseases. From 2016 until 2019, he studied as a graduate student in the Blazer-Yost lab at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. There he focused on identifying the molecular pathways responsible for the production and secretion of cerebrospinal fluid from the choroid plexus and contributed to studies aimed at ameliorating the pathophysiology associated with hydrocephalus.

Daniel received his Bachelor of Science in Biology and Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis in 2015. He obtained his Master of Science in Biology with a focus on Molecular Biology and Cell Physiology from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis in 2019.

Donalyn Scheuner

Donalyn Scheuner, PhD

Senior Staff Scientist, IBRI Diabetes Center

Donalyn Scheuner

Donalyn Scheuner, PhD

Senior Staff Scientist, IBRI Diabetes Center

Donalyn Scheuner, Ph.D., joined the IBRI in March 2019 as Senior Staff Scientist in the IBRI Diabetes Center. In this role, she is responsible for planning and coordinating the research on the mechanisms of pancreatic beta-cell dysfunction and death in type 1 diabetes, working in close collaboration with Dr. Decio Eizirik.

Prior to the IBRI and since 2017, she worked as a Scientific Consultant for DLS Consulting in Greenfield, IN, on a multisite NIH project grant. From 2009 to 2017, she served as Senior Scientist in Islet Biology at Lilly Research Laboratories in Indianapolis. From 2004 to 2009, Dr. Scheuner was a Research Specialist at Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. From 1995 to 2004, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at HHMI. And from 1994 to 1995, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow focusing on NIH Developmental Neurobiology and Neuroscience at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.

Dr. Scheuner has been responsible for more than three-dozen scientific publications and nearly the same number of presentations, and she has been recognized with numerous honors, awards and fellowships. She earned her Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, and her B.S. in Chemistry, also at Michigan.

Andrew Templin, PhD

Andrew Templin, PhD

Assistant Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center

Andrew Templin, PhD

Andrew Templin, PhD

Assistant Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center

Andrew Templin joined the IBRI Diabetes Center in June 2020. He also holds positions at the Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine and the Roudebush VA Medical Center. Andrew’s lab studies the relationship between islet inflammation and beta cell dysfunction and death in the setting of diabetes. Ultimately, the goal of the Templin Lab is to uncover novel mechanisms of diabetes pathogenesis that affect islet beta cell health, and to use this information to develop new treatments for diabetes.

Prior to joining the IBRI, Andrew served as an Acting Instructor of Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. During his time there, he studied the role of islet amyloidosis in islet inflammation and beta cell loss in collaboration with Dr. Steven Kahn. This collaboration led to publications in Diabetes, Diabetologia, and Diabetes Care, among others.

Andrew received his Bachelor of Science degree from IU in 2006, during which time he was a member of the Hutton Honors College. After working and studying at Northwestern University in the Feinberg School of Medicine, Andrew returned to IU and obtained his PhD in Cellular and Integrative Physiology under the mentorship of Dr. Raghu Mirmira, graduating in 2014.

Andrew is a native Hoosier who enjoys travel, soccer, the Chicago Cubs and Golden Retrievers.

Carol Witczak

Carol Witczak

Assistant Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center

Carol Witczak

Carol Witczak

Assistant Investigator, IBRI Diabetes Center

Carol Witczak joined the IBRI in December 2019 to establish a lab that will research the regulation of glucose transport in skeletal muscle. This research is vital to the Diabetes Center because while people with type 2 diabetes have decreased muscle glucose uptake in response to the hormone insulin, they have a normal ability to take up glucose in response to exercise. 

A specific focus of Carol’s research is resistance exercise training. She seeks to better understand the complex metabolic adaptations that occur in enlarging muscles, and how these adaptations could be exploited to develop new treatments for type 2 diabetes.

Prior to her arrival in Indiana she was an Associate Professor at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. At East Carolina University she focused on understanding the molecular and cellular factors that regulate muscle metabolism in both physiological and pathological conditions, including exercise, diabetes and cachexia.

Carol received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Molecular Biology from Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, in 1998. She obtained her PhD in Physiology from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, in 2003.