His group is in the forefront of investigating RNA methylation in beta cells, performing studies in mouse and human cells and in mice. The work is funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and may have implications for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
The Joslin investigators found links between methylation of messenger RNA and a growth signaling pathway involving insulin and IGF-1 receptors that is key in beta cell biology. This RNA methylation might prove important in regulating many aspects of beta cell behavior, such as how the cells divide or how effectively they are stimulated by blood glucose to produce insulin, Kulkarni says.
Additionally, understanding the role of RNA methylation might help to guide the research efforts now underway in many labs that attempt to derive beta cells from stem cells or from various types of adult cells. “RNA methylation may be playing a role here that is worth exploring,” he says.
The Albert Renold Prize and Lecture honors the memory of the distinguished diabetologist and researcher, who was founder of the lnstitut de Biochimie Clinique in Geneva and one of the founding fathers of EASD.