Primary Research Areas
Currently the primary areas of funding and activity in ECDRE are in the areas of Biomaterials and Vascular Research. These two areas contribute significantly to the treatment of diabetes and complications resulting from this disease.
Research in biomaterials focuses on the development of enabling technologies for Islet Encapsulation, Drug Delivery, Tissue Engineering, and Wound Healing. IIT has ongoing research in synthetic hydrogels for controlled and localized delivery of therapeutic molecules, hydrogels for cell encapsulation, natural hydrogels for tissue regeneration, and patterning technologies for three-dimensional tissue engineering. Encapsulation research complements medical research and practice in islet cell transplantation, to increase the viability of transplanted cells and reduce the dependency on immunosuppressant drugs in patients with Type 1 diabetes.
Researchers at IIT have a strong history of applying engineering approaches in the area of Vascular Research. Many of these efforts are focused on the complications of diabetes, including treatment of peripheral vascular disease, understanding and treatment of age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, stimulation and inhibition of angiogenesis, wound healing, modeling blood flow in dialysis, and experimental and modeling approaches to hemostasis and thrombosis.
In addition to these two primary areas, nascent research efforts exist in the area of metabolism. Diabetes is a metabolic disease and a growing strength in research on glucose, fat, and energy metabolism will have a strong impact on treatment of Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Research in a number of additional areas continue in ECDRE and the Pritzker Institute, that contribute significantly to efforts in diabetes, including modeling glucose metabolism, modeling of the effects of diabetes on kidneys, automatic control techniques for developing an artificial pancreas with automated insulin pumps, imaging technologies for monitoring disease, human behavior modification, and stem cells as sources for islet cells and tissue regeneration.