Diabetes Australia funding to propel new metabolic research at Garvan

Three of Garvan’s scientists have been awarded research grants from Diabetes Australia to support their work in preventing and treating diabetes and related conditions.

A/Prof Ross Laybutt, Prof Trevor Biden and Dr Yanchuan Shi

06 February 2017

Three scientists from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have been awarded one-year grants from Diabetes Australia to fund research projects in 2017. Garvan congratulates Professor Trevor Biden, Dr Yanchuan Shi and Associate Professor Ross Laybutt, each of whom received one of 50 competitive research grants awarded across the nation. 

With over 60% of Australian adults overweight or obese [1], and more than 1.7 million Australians currently living with diabetes [2], this funding provides important support for research into the prevention and treatment of these conditions.

  • For Prof Biden (Laboratory Head, Beta Cell Signalling Laboratory, Diabetes and Metabolism Division), the Diabetes Australia funding will support research on beta cells – cells of the pancreas that produce insulin and so help to keep our blood sugar levels steady. Prof Biden’s research will focus on the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), the site where insulin is made in beta cells, and how malfunctioning ER  in beta cells contributes to the development of Type 2 diabetes.  This work may lead to the evaluation of targeted therapies as possible future treatments for Type 2 diabetes.
  • Dr Yanchuan Shi (Group Leader, Neuroendocrinology Research Group, Eating Disorders Laboratory, Neuroscience Division) will investigate neuropeptide Y, a neurotransmitter found in the brain and other tissues, including  body fat that plays a critical role of the regulation of energy balance, and obesity. Dr Shi will investigate whether targeting the neuropeptide Y pathway in body fat can prevent or reverse the metabolic effects of obesity that lead to Type 2 diabetes.  Results from this study will provide valuable new insights into the biological mechanisms of obesity and may help in the development of potential new therapeutics for treating obesity.
  • A/Prof Laybutt (Laboratory Head, Islet Cell Biology Laboratory, Diabetes and Metabolism Division) will investigate the way in which high glucose levels in the blood affect insulin production by beta cells in Type 2 diabetes. High glucose can damage blood vessels, and limit  the oxygen available to cells. A/Prof Laybutt’s study will explore how these conditions affect beta cell function and may identify potential new therapeutic approaches to restoring insulin production in diabetes.

The Diabetes Australia Research Program was established in 1987 to support and develop diabetes related research across Australia. The program provides funding towards the prevention, management and cure of all types of diabetes, and the grants awarded to Garvan researchers will support the three studies for one year.


[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare http://www.aihw.gov.au/overweight-and-obesity/

[2] Diabetes Australia https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/diabetes-in-australia

Related Diseases