Research Profile: Dr. Steven Chessler Awarded R01 Grant for Diabetes Research

Dr. Steven ChesslerSteven D. Chessler, MD PhD, has received a 5-year, nearly $2 million R01 grant award from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) for his diabetes research.

Dr. Chessler, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism, focuses his investigations on diabetes and pancreatic islet function.This major funding award will further his studies of the insulin-secreting pancreatic islet beta cells.In type 1 diabetes, autoimmune processes cause damage and dysfunction in these beta cells.

In type 2 diabetes, the beta cells gradually fail, though the reason is unknown.  |  Read the public abstract of Dr. Chessler’s R01 grant

“To develop new treatments for diabetes,” Dr. Chessler says, “we have to gain a better understanding of the biology of the beta cells and the pancreatic islets in which they reside.”

Dr. Chessler and his coworkers have already uncovered new aspects of the insulin secretion system.In a study they reported in Endocrinology last year, they found that beta cells express three families of synaptic cell surface proteins that occur in neurons in the central nervous system.Further, they found that two of the protein families, neuroligins and neurexins, appear to play a role in insulin secretion.  |   Read the abstract of the Endocrinology report

With the R01 award, Dr. Chessler will take the next steps to define the precise role of these cell-surface proteins in beta cell function and assess their potential as therapeutic targets.

Through this work, Dr. Chessler also hopes to identify safe and noninvasive ways to detect and monitor the quantity of pancreatic islet beta cells.

Such a tool would help researchers determine whether a potential new treatment is effective in preventing or reversing the loss of the insulin production capability.

Dr. Chessler’s grant is “Neuroligins and Neuroligin-Neurexin Interactions in Islet Beta Cell Function.”