Our Tradition of Innovation

For nearly 80 years, scientists at UCSF have been making breakthrough discoveries that have improved diabetes treatment and saved countless lives around the world.

Our researchers and clinicians:

  • cloned the gene that produces insulin, making possible the unlimited supply of human insulin available today;
  • co-founded stem cells that are widely believed to have benefits for diabetes and for numerous other diseases;
  • identified autoimmune predictors of type 1 diabetes, helping to develop tests to predict those at risk for developing the disease;
  • were the first to demonstrate that elevated blood sugar caused complications, helping to pioneer the intensive glucose control strategies now utilized throughout the world;
  • were the first to link obesity to type 2 diabetes, resulting in revolutionary changes in diabetes treatment and prevention.

In the year 2000, a new, comprehensive Diabetes Center was created that united the research, clinical care and education aspects of diabetes to more rapidly improve the quality of life of those living with diabetes. Since that time, we’ve accelerated our basic research efforts and have aggressively pursued promising clinical research to help generate new treatments for this disease.

In honor of our 10th Anniversary in 2010, a video was produced that highlights the progress we've made in research, clinical care and education. We invite you to watch this special presentation.

Our Patient Care Legacy

Through the years, our clinicians have been trailblazers in creating innovative clinical care and education programs for those with diabetes.
Bearskin Meadow Camp
In the midst of the Great Depression, UCSF pediatric physicians founded the first camp for diabetic children west of the Mississippi and one of the first in the country –- forever altering the lives of children with diabetes. We are proud that this camp, Bearskin Meadow, continues to thrive -- thanks to the Diabetic Youth Foundation and thousands of families who benefit from its programming each year.
Peggy Huang
And, thanks to the vision and dedication of our adult diabetes clinicians including Peggy Huang, RN, CDE, the UCSF Diabetes Teaching Center was launched in 1978. One of the first comprehensive programs of its kind, the Diabetes Teaching Center brings together the skills of physicians, nurses, counselors, pharmacists and nutritionists to provide individuals with diabetes education and self-management resources. Thousands of people from around the world have benefited from our workshops and programs.

Our Commitment to Cures

Ten years ago, Dr. Jeffrey Bluestone, one of the world’s leading experts on why the body’s immune system decides to reject or accept transplanted tissue, was recruited to UCSF as Center Director. Dr. Bluestone's research has catalyzed recent progress in stem cell research, islet cell transplantation, and immune tolerance therapies. In 2010, Center Director Jeffrey Bluestone was promoted to the role of UCSF Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. Approved by the UC Regents, Dr. Bluestone serves as UCSF's chief academic officer, guiding the research and academic enterprise. [ UCSF Announcement ]

Matthias Hebrok, PhD was appointed by Sam Hawgood, MD, the Dean of the School of Medicine, to serve as our Director of the Diabetes Center. Dr. Hebrok, the Hurlbut-Johnson Distinguished Professor in Diabetes Research, is one of the world's foremost experts on pancreatic development. [ Dean's Announcement ]

As Diabetes Center Director, Dr. Hebrok leads our team of research faculty and staff members who conduct research in diabetes. In addition, he works closely with both the pediatric and adult clinical practices, the Diabetes Teaching Center, and diabetes "neighborhoods" on all of the UCSF campuses. Finally, to ensure the ongoing success of our overall program, he focuses on generating more government and private philanthropic support to fuel our promising research pipeline and to support the clinical enterprise at UCSF.

Since 2000, our team of researchers have:

  • initiated phase III clinical trials of a promising monoclonal antibody to investigate its ability to halt the autoimmune destruction of insulin- producing beta cells in type 1 diabetes;
  • created one of the world’s most advanced stem cell programs in diabetes focused on creating an unlimited source of beta cells;
  • established one of the first, fully certified, state-of-the-art human islet and cellular transplantation facilities to help isolate pancreatic islets for transplantation;
  • developed less toxic anti-rejection therapies to preserve insulin-producing beta cells without causing dangerous side effects for patients.
Our Millennium Milestones

We feel it is important to document our progress and show how the Diabetes Center is making a difference in treating and curing diabetes. We invite you to learn more about our advancements in research and clinical care by downloading our publication, Millennium Milestones.

    Research Lab Photo