Diabetes Center Faculty Member Honored

As a young research investigator and clinician, Mark Anderson, MD, PhD, has wasted no time in making his mark in diabetes. First, he attracts worldwide attention by uncovering an important protein that helps immune cells learn how to recognize and avoid attacking the body's own tissue.

Next, he moves his young family from coast to coast to join the Diabetes Center at UCSF, one of the most innovative immunology programs in the country.  Most recently, he is selected as one of only fifteen gifted biomedical scientists to serve as a 2004 Pew Biomedical Scholar. Not a bad year for Dr. Anderson!

Dr. Anderson's lab at UCSF is examining the genetic control of autoimmune disease to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms by which immune tolerance is broken.  In other words, he and his colleagues are seeking to understand how the body recognizes self from non-self...and why the body attacks its own insulin-producing beta cells in type 1 diabetes.

When he was a research fellow, Dr. Anderson and his colleagues uncovered the function of a protein that is critical to helping immune cells learn how to recognize and avoid attacking the body's own tissue.  The protein, named Aire, appears to work in the thymus gland by activating the production of a wide array of self-proteins, including insulin.  The discovery could shed light, not only on how the healthy immune system develops tolerance to its own proteins, but also how tolerance is lost in diabetes.

Dr. Anderson's background is impressive.  He received his undergraduate training at Northwestern University in Chicago.  After being awarded both his PhD in Immunology and his MD in the early 90s at the University of Chicago, Dr. Anderson continued to train at such prestigious institutions as the University of Minnesota, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.  Last fall, the UCSF Diabetes Center was fortunate to have Dr. Anderson join their team.

In June, the 2004 Pew Biomedical Scholars Awardees were named and Dr. Anderson was at the top of the list (of course it didn't hurt that his last name begins with "A"!)  This prestigious scholarship program offers Dr. Anderson $240,000 over four years to support his research activities.  Dr. Anderson will join an esteemed community of researchers who will meet regularly to discuss ideas, challenges and obstacles across sub-specialties of science and medicine.  Congratulations, Dr. Anderson, on this outstanding achievement!

Stay tuned to see what Dr. Anderson accomplishes next in his quest to prevent and treat type 1 diabetes!