Dr. Mark O. Huising received his formal training in the Netherlands at the universities of Wageningen (BSc and MSc in Biology) and Nijmegen (PhD) on the evolution of signaling in immune and endocrine systems. This was followed by postdoctoral training at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies with the late Dr. Wylie Vale where he started his work on pancreatic islets. He launched his independent career based on this work and moved his group to the University of California, Davis in the fall of 2014.
Dr. Huising and his team are interested in everything that controls the behavior of islet cells, from the control of hormone secretion to the plasticity that underlies the generation of new beta cells.
He recently discovered how beta cells co-release the novel peptide hormone Urocortin3 with insulin. Urocortin3 then stimulates somatostatin secretion from neighboring delta cells within the islet. Somatostatin provides important feedback control over beta and alpha cells and helps ensure that insulin secretion is timely attenuated. This simple intra-islet negative feedback loop helps prevent insulin-induced hypoglycemia and is one of several examples of how local, paracrine crosstalk is instrumental in shaping insulin and glucagon output of the islets. The goal of Dr. Huising’s research is to fully understand the ingenious ways in which islets in healthy individuals have met the challenge of maintaining tightly controlled blood glucose levels over a lifetime. He believes that this knowledge could be leveraged to devise novel therapies to restore control over blood glucose. His lab uses a range of approaches, including next generation sequencing and the visualization of the behavior of alpha, beta, and delta cells within intact islets in real time as well as lineage tracing to track cell fate. These approaches have already resolved some of the local intra-islet feedback control that determines the set point for plasma glucose and led to the discovery of a novel population of ‘virgin’ beta cells that suggest continuous generation of new beta cells at a specific site within the islet over the course of a lifetime.
Dr. Huising has published over 50 publications in leading international peer-reviewed journals. His work is funded by the NIH, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the Hartwell Foundation. Beyond his research, Dr. Huising teaches on the topic of diabetes to raise awareness of diabetes among his students, many of whom will go on to become our next generation of health care professionals.