Scientific Review Committee

The Foundation has assembled a small, dedicated group of researchers and clinicians to support the work of bringing encapsulated islets cells to the clinical setting.

Richard N. Bergman, PhD

Committee Chair
Director, Cedars-Sinai Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

In June 2011, Richard N. Bergman, PhD, an internationally renowned expert in diabetes and obesity research, was named director of the Cedars-Sinai Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute. Bergman also joined Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Biomedical Sciences and its Department of Medicine as a distinguished research scientist. Previously Bergman spent three decades at the University of Southern California, where he served as the Keck Professor of Medicine and chair of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, as well as professor of medicine and biomedical engineering at USC’s Keck School of Medicine.

An influential diabetes researcher for more than three decades, with more than 300 peer-reviewed published papers, Bergman pioneered the use of engineering technology to understand mechanisms that lead to development of diabetes. He developed the “minimal model,” a metabolic test that provides a scientific window into how insulin functions in human beings, while allowing clinicians to predict which patients are at increased risk. It has become the standard for determining causes of diabetes, and clinical testing using this model is now the most powerful predictor of future development of type 2 diabetes. Dr. Bergman has also studied the relationship between insulin secretion and insulin resistance. He found that if individuals are insulin resistant, the pancreas must increase its function to compensate.

Among numerous honors and awards over the course of his career, Bergman has received the Banting Medal for Scientific Achievement from the American Diabetes Association. The award, Named after Frederick G. Banting, the co-discoverer of insulin, is the ADA’s highest honor for scientific achievement. Given to a single researcher each year, it recognizes highly meritorious career achievement in the field of diabetes research. Dr. Bergman was honored for his lifetime achievement in diabetes research. He has also received the Man of Distinction Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Diabetes Association; the NIH Merit Award; and the Lilly Award as Outstanding Researcher in Diabetes.

Andrew J. Drexler, MD

Professor of MedicineCo-Chief, Division of Clinical Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension
Director, Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes Center, UCLA, Los Angeles.

Dr. Andrew Drexler received his MD from the New York University School of Medicine in 1972, completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Barnes Hospital (1975–1976) and fellowship in Endocrinology at Washington University School of Medicine (1976–1978) in St. Louis, Missouri, and spent two years at the National Institutes of Health in the Public Health Service at the Laboratory of Immunology, NIAID (1973–1975). He joined the faculty of New York University School of Medicine as Clinical Associate Professor in 2003. He was Director of the Diabetes Clinic in Bellevue Hospital and Director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center in New York (1998–2002). In [year] he assumed his current post at the Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes Center, a multi-disciplinary state-of-the-art facility offering high quality care for patients with diabetes and other endocrine disorders.

Dr. Drexler has been among the most prominent practitioners of intensive insulin management, tight glycemic control during pregnancy, and insulin pump therapy. He was responsible for facilitating the transfer of more than thirty pancreas transplant patients with type 1 diabetes and end-stage renal disease in the New York area to centers in other parts of the country because pancreas transplantation was not available in the New York area. In the mid-1990s, Dr. Drexler became involved with utilizing these new therapies for type 2 diabetes and teaching them to other physicians. He also was instrumental in the establishment of the Mt. Sinai Diabetes Center, among of the best comprehensive diabetes centers in the country.

Paul Johnson, MA (MB ChB., MD Leic.), FRCS (Eng), FRCS (Edin.), FRCS (Paed. Surg.), FAAP

Paul Johnson is professor of pediatric surgery at the University of Oxford, and Director of the Oxford Islet Transplant Programme. He is a fellow of St Edmund Hall. He qualified in medicine from the University of Leicester and trained in pediatric surgery in Oxford, Melbourne, and Great Ormond Street. His particular clinical interests are pancreatic and endocrine surgery, and cell transplantation.

His research interests include optimizing human islet isolation, and understanding normal pancreatic development and islet neogenesis. Between 1993 and 1996 he was a research fellow in the Department of Surgery at the University of Leicester, where he undertook a project on the isolation of human islets of Langerhans for pancreatic islet transplantation. This led to a Doctorate of Medicine and started his ongoing interest in the field of islet transplantation for reversing type 1 diabetes. He was awarded a Hunterian Professorship from the Royal College of Surgeons of England for this research in 1998.

He is currently president elect of the International Pancreas and Islet Association (IPITA), and chairman of the research committee of the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons. He was awarded an honorary fellowship of the American Academy of Pediatrics in February 2010. He currently sits on a number of research boards and editorial boards. He chairs the Nuffield Department of Surgery Clinical Academic Sub Group.

Carolyn Robertson, MS, RN, APRN, MSN CDE

Clinician, Consultant at Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes Center, UCLA, Los Angeles

Ms. Robertson is a certified diabetes educator (CDE), board certified in Advanced Diabetes Management. She has more than 30 years of experience in patient education in intensive/flexible diabetes management, with an active patient caseload for more than 25 years. She was a pioneer in the intensive management of diabetic pregnancies and insulin pump therapy. She also has extensive experience in the management of patients with kidney and pancreas transplants. Ms. Robertson received her MS in Nursing from Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Currently she is currently in private practice in New York (customized diabetes education) and is a diabetes consultant to the Gonda Diabetes Center at UCLA. She remains actively involved in clinical research, consultation and mentoring. She has been an active member of diabetes volunteer organizations including Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Research International and the American Diabetes Association. Ms. Robertson serves on the editorial board for the patient journal Self Management and publishes in peer-reviewed journals, trade journals, books, and newsletters, as well as on the Internet. She lectures frequently to local, national, and international audiences of health professionals, patients, and the general public. Recently relocated to Arizona, she provides diabetes counseling on a volunteer basis for members of the Navajo nation while continuing her work in New York and Los Angeles.

A. M. James Shapiro, MD, PhD 

Director, Clinical Islet Transplantation Program, University of Alberta–Edmonton

Dr. Shapiro is Director of the Clinical Islet Transplant Program at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. He was recruited to this position in 1998 based on his expertise in the management of transplant patients, and on his extensive laboratory background in the field of anti-rejection drug treatments for islet transplantation.

Born in Leeds, England, Dr. Shapiro was trained at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and further trained in surgery at the University of Bristol. He also trained in liver transplant surgery, including a period of time at the University of Kyoto in Japan, where he learned live donor transplantation techniques. He was awarded a PhD in experimental islet transplantation at the University of Alberta, based on experimental research studies exploring immunosuppressive drug treatments for islet transplantation. Dr. Shapiro’s contributions to the Clinical Islet Transplant Program led to the development of the “Edmonton Protocol” for clinical islet transplantation.

Dr. Shapiro is Principal Investigator of the international multi-center trial of islet transplantation testing the Edmonton Protocol at nine international sites, sponsored by the Immune Tolerance Network. He is also Principal Investigator and Director of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Clinical Center for Islet Transplantation created in 2001 at the University of Alberta. In 2002, Dr. Shapiro was awarded the Canadian Institutes of Health Research/Wyeth Clinical Research Chair in Transplantation at the University of Alberta.

Dr. Shapiro has received many awards for his experimental studies on islet research, including the Hunterian Medal from the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Gold Medal in Surgery from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. In 2006, he was named one of Nature Biotechnology’s most remarkable and influential personalities from the past 10 years, in Biopharmaceuticals. He has published numerous papers on islet and liver transplantation in such journals as the New England Journal of Medicine, Transplantation, Transplant International, and the British Journal of Surgery.

Paul de Vos, PhD

Dr. Paul de Vos is associate professor of immunoendocrinology in the Department of Pathology and Medical Biology, Section of Immunoendocrinology, University Medical Center Groningen. His areas of research have been microencapsulation of islets, alginate, epithelial cells, immuno-modulation, and targeting of cells and food components.

He has consulted with private companies, including Novo Nordisk, on projects concerning islet cell physiology, stem cells and immune isolation, and food and immunology. He is the author of many published papers on these subjects.