Dr. Edward Phelps, an assistant professor in the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering, was awarded a 1-year grant from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) for his project entitled “Pathophysiology of GAD65 and GABA Signaling in Autoimmune Diabetes”.
This grant explores how GABA signaling might be inhibited in islets during an autoimmune response, contributing to the progression of type 1 diabetes. Pancreatic islets are endocrine mini-organs that contain the insulin-secreting beta cells and are targeted by the immune system in type 1 diabetes. Pancreatic islets synthesize and secrete the neurotransmitter GABA which helps to improve islet cell coordination, promote beta cell survival and suppress immune cells.
Before coming to UF BME, Phelps was a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Life Sciences and the Institute of Bioengineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland. His postdoctoral advisors were Dr. Jeffrey Hubbell, professor, Merck Serono Chair in Drug Delivery, Laboratory for Regenerative Medicine; Dr. Melody Swartz, professor, Laboratory of Lymphatic and Cancer Bioengineering; and Steinunn Baekkeskov, visiting professor, Laboratory of Immunopathology and Cell Biology of Autoantigens.
Phelps’ research has been supported by the American Heart Association, the Whitaker International Fellows and Scholars Program and most recently by a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Congratulations, Dr. Phelps!