Because every day, type 1 diabetes turns the life of children upside down.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition caused by destruction of pancreatic beta cells by an individual’s own T cells. Beta cells produce the hormone insulin, which is required for glucose metabolism and energy production. Thus beta cell loss has devastating effects on multiple organ systems. The underlying cause of type 1 diabetes differs significantly from that of, more common, type 2 diabetes, in which cells become insulin-insensitive in part due to lifestyle choices.

Each year approximately 30,000 people in the US—more than of them half children—are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (also called “juvenile diabetes”), and currently about 2 million Americans live with the disease. There is no cure: patients closely monitor blood glucose levels and take corrective insulin daily, orally or by injection. Despite this onerous regimen, many develop complications such as kidney damage, neuropathy or blindness.


The mission of the Diabetes & Immune Disease National Research Institute  at the La Jolla Institute for  Immunology is to accelerate the path to find a safe prevention and cure for type 1 diabetes. DIDNRI strives to combine the in-house multidisciplinary expertise in immunology and development of immunotherapies with cutting edge approaches in beta cell regeneration and replacement and local clinical centers. Therefore, close ties with the Brehm Coalition, the Pediatric Diabetes Research Center (PDRC) of San Diego, and the Sanford Foundation have been established. These collaborations are united by their dedication to fighting type 1 diabetes and helping those who suffer from it, and ultimately, all who are touched by the disease.


LJI investigator Matthias von Herrath, M.D.   leads the fight against type 1 diabetes from two fronts: He heads the Diabetes and Immune Disease National Research Institute and, at the same time, directs a translational diabetes center in Seattle run by the Danish healthcare company Novo Nordisk.

When in Seattle, von Herrath focuses on developing immunotherapy for diabetes, while at DIDNRI he conducts basic research into its molecular and cellular underpinnings. Many of his studies are conducted in partnership with the Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes (nPOD), which provides pancreatic tissues from diabetic organ donors to researchers at leading diabetes centers.