Center for Engineering in Diabetes (CED)

Co-Directors

  • David Gough, Ph.D., Professor of Bioengineering
  • Maike Sander, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Director of the Pediatric Diabetes Research Center and Member of the UCSD Stem Cell Program

Diabetes is a growing, world-wide problem with potentially devastating consequences for individuals with the disease as well as for society as a whole. There is a clear and urgent need for new approaches to address challenges in treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of diabetes and its related complications using state-of-the-art scientific and engineering approaches.

The goals of the Center for Engineering in Diabetes (CED) are to stimulate research, development and clinical translation of new technologies for the treatment of diabetes.The CED will facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations between clinicians, engineers, research scientists, and industry, as well as train a new professional workforce of student graduates with specialized engineering skills and clinical perspectives to work hand-in-hand with clinicians and the medical device industry.

These new forms of therapy will be based on effective replacement of the beta cell, either by a cellular technology or by an engineering- based artificial pancreas. Such as islet replacement, regeneration from stem cells, or islet preservation, constituting a form of “bioengineered pancreas”, or by some combination of implanted sensor and automated delivery technologies that comprise an automatic “mechanical artificial beta cell“.

Biological approaches will be explored as a cellular replacement strategy for islet cells. This will require a fundamental understanding of how the pancreas matures from an outgrowth of the duodenum into a highly ordered structure of exocrine and endocrine cells. The maturation process for beta cells in the Islets of Langerhans is guided by spatiotemporally regulated cell interactions, including growth factors, cell-cell signaling, and extracellular matrix components. 

Development of a bioengineered pancreas seeks to mimic those interactions to recapitulate the natural development process in a dish, resulting in an in vitro, engineered environment that can produce fully functioning insulin-producing beta cells. These advances will involve collaboration with San Diego’s vibrant biotechnology industry. San Diego has an unusually high concentration of companies involved in developing diabetes biosensors, medical devices, and tissue engineering approaches for diabetes. The CED will provide a platform for interaction with industry, as this is a key component of translation of new technologies to the clinic.

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