Ethan F. 2023 | BASIS Independent Silicon Valley
- Project Title: Mapping the Vascularity of Islets of Langerhans
- Basis Independent Advisor: Dr. Karen Allendoerfer
- Internship Location: UCSF Gartner Lab
- Onsite Mentor: Olivia Creasey
At the Gartner Lab at UCSF, I will be working with Olivia Creasey, a PhD Candidate in the UC Berkeley and UCSF Graduate Program in Bioengineering to characterize the vascular network of pancreatic islets to a depth that hasn’t been done prior. One in ten people in the U.S. has diabetes mellitus, a cureless disease that results in the body losing its ability to regulate blood sugar levels. This happens largely because the islets of Langerhans, a tissue in the pancreas responsible for secreting hormones such as insulin and glucagon, stop working. The best and possibly most efficient way to cure diabetes is to transplant healthy islets into the patient. Unfortunately, there aren't enough donor islets in the world for the demand caused by this prevalent disease. While the cell types in the islets have been identified, failure to engineer islets may be a result of researchers’ failure to recreate the correct tissue structure, due to a lack of knowledge about the structure of the pancreatic islet. By isolating the vasculature from 3D images of islets and analyzing the segmented results of the structure of the vascular network inside each islet, this research project will create that knowledge of tissue structure. Beyond pancreatic tissue, the results of this project will establish procedures that will help other researchers to study vascular structure and structure-function relationships in other tissues.