University of Nebraska Medical Center

Sarvetnick Lab

Many questions regarding the pathogenesis of human autoimmune diabetes have not been answered, including the nature of the environmental stimulus and the identity of the cell subset responsible for precipitating disease. We have determined that a subpopulation of MAIT cells is significantly expanded in diabetes patients both before and after the initiation of disease. Based upon our recent studies, Dr. Sarvetnick believes that this cell population represents a critical driver in human Type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Her current approach is to first to make observations from analysis of the immune profile in humans, and then to use those results to perform the necessary mechanistic work using murine models, which is the opposite approach to what she has done in the past. In 2010, she started the Heartland Diabetes Project, which represents a collaborative effort between her laboratory and the UNMC/Children’s Nebraska Pediatric Endocrine clinic. With access to an average of 160 new onset patients each year, her laboratory at UNMC has developed and validated large flow cytometry panels for the purpose of profiling many immune subsets in pre-onset and recent onset diabetes patients.