Lay Summary

Diabetes is a serious disease which leads to in-balance in blood sugar levels and is associated with complications such as kidney damage, blindness and cardiovascular disease. It comes in two forms: type 1 diabetes usually develops in younger people and the main treatment is injection of insulin, type 2 diabetes usually develops in older people and is often treated with drugs. 

Our laboratory has a broad interest in what is called stimulus-secretion coupling. This is a process where cells respond to stimulation by secreting. The pancreas is a good example of this. Specialised cells in the pancreas, called beta cells secrete insulin and it is changes in insulin secretion that cause diabetes. The defects in insulin secretion are beginning to be understood and our lab is at the forefront of modern imaging methods that are revealing some of these defects.

Banting and Best in Toronto were the first to discover that diabetes is due to a loss of insulin secretion. Banting won the Nobel prize for his work in 1923.
— Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1923 Frederick G. Banting, John Macleod

Scientific Summary

Our group uses cutting-edge microscopy, transgenic and molecular approaches to understand how insulin secretion is regulated in health and disease. Our latest work suggests that insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells is controlled through synaptic-like connections with the blood vessels of the islet (Low et al Diabetologia 2014, Gan et al J Cell Biol 2016).


The research in our group is funded through competitive grants obtained from:

  • The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (2017-2019 and 2018-2020)
  • The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (2017-2018 and 2017-2019)
  • Diabetes Australia (2017 and 2018)
  • The Rebecca L Cooper Foundation (2017)
  • The Sydney Research Excellence Initiative (2017-2018)

In addition we are grateful for sponsorship from John and Ann Chong.