Lee Iaocca for Joslin DiabetesThe Iacocca Family Foundation is proud to support research at the Joslin Diabetes Center through multiple endowments that have been established over the last 30 years. Most recently, the endowed funds have supported the following researchers:

Yingie Liu
Yingie Liu studied the differential effect of protein kinase C (PKC) on insulin signaling pathway in cardiovascular endothelial cells and reports: Patients with type 1 diabetes have an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis, a major factor is insulin resistance.  We have proposed that insulin has multiple specific actions in the vascular cells that can create anti-atherogenic and atherogenic actions.  IRS-1/2 and the activation of phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K) signaling pathway mediate insulin’s anti-atherogenic actions, while Shc/MAP kinase (MAPK) pathway activation can mediate several atherogenic effects of insulin.  We have proposed that hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia and inflammatory cytokines derived from diabetes will “differentially” inhibit insulin’s activation of PI3K/Akt pathway and its anti-atherogenic effects.

Shane Mayack
Shane Mayack focused on how the loss or functional impairment of tissue-specific stem cells contributes the progressive decline in the body’s ability to maintain homeostatic and injury induced regenerative cell replacement.  He reports: The ability to isolate osteoblast niche cells has opened a wealth of possibilities for better understanding the cell biological and molecular control of stem cell activity and hematopoiesis.  At Joslin, we established both in vitro and in vivo assays to allow direct assessment of the functional differences between resting and “expanded” HSC (hematopoietic stem cells) niches.  For our Iacocca research plan, we proposed to focus on evaluating the importance of the HSC niche in aging and leukemic transformation with the long-term goal of elucidating their mechanisms of action using genetic perturbation, in vivo transplantation, and in vitro co-culture assays.

Eystein Husebye
Eystein Husebye has been focused on organ-specific autoimmunity in humanized murine models of autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome Type 1 and reports: Autoimmune diseases are a group of about 80 disorders that can involve almost any tissue or organ.  They affect 5-10% of the population and are one of the top 10 causes of death in women.  Some of these disorders, such as autoimmune thyroid disease and type 1 diabetes, are common, while others are rare.  Among the latter is autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type I (APS-I), a rare, autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in the autoimmune regulator (AIRE) gene.  Patients gradually develop autoimmune destruction of different endocrine and non-endocrine tissues.  The main components are hypoparathyroidism, primary adrenal failure (Addison’s disease), and chronic candida infections of the skin and mucous membranes.  Up to 20% of patients develop type 1 diabetes.

The generation of Aire-knockout mouse models has been instrumental in elucidating the detailed mechanisms behind central immunological tolerance and how it is broken in autoimmune diseases, but none of the hitherto developed mouse models develop the three main components seen in humans.  To overcome these limitations, the goal of this project has been to create new mouse models with a partially humanized immune system.  The hypothesis was that Aire-knockout mice harboring parts of the human immune system will develop a disease phenotype more similar to that of human patients with APS-I.

Mary K. Iacocca Fellows – Global Impact on Diabetes

2009 Iacocca Foundation FellowsThe Mary K. Iacocca Fellowship was established in 1981 by Lee and Mary K. Iacocca, and is sponsored by the Iacocca Foundation. The Fellowship supports two or more research fellows annually, granting recipients the opportunity to research at the Joslin Diabetes Center, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School. Past Fellows continue to make advances in diabetes research and have gone on to hold prestigious positions at prominent institutions worldwide.

As of 2009, there have been 68 Junior and Senior Iacocca Fellows from over 15 countries. Blue balloons represent Senior Fellows and green balloons represent Junior Fellows.
2009 Iacocca Foundation Fellows Map

Click on the map to navigate in new window. Each balloon represents a Fellow and where he/she is currently working. Clicking on a balloon will give you the Fellows’ details, including what years he or she was at the Joslin. You can navigate the map once opened by using your mouse to click and drag, or by zooming in and out to view specific geographical areas.