The Gu lab is analyzing the molecular and cellular mechanisms of pancreas organogenesis. The exocrine acinar and pancreatic ducts provide and direct digestive enzymes for digestion, while the endocrine pancreas consists of islets of Langerhans containing five interdependent types of endocrine hormonesecreting cell. The main function of islets is to regulate sugar metabolism through insulin and glucagon. Pancreas-related disease include pancreatic cancer and diabetes.
The goals of the Gu lab's research are to unravel the mechanisms regulating pancreatic development and islet cell function, and translate these understandings to therapeutic strategies for diabetes. The following projects offer training and research opportunities for students and postdoctoral fellows: 1) endocrine vs. exocrine fate specification; 2) endocrine cell type selection; 3) beta cell maturation and functional maintenance; 4) adult beta cell neogenesis from stem cell or progenitors; 5) drug discovery and development of novel technologies.