Dr. Vincenzo Cirulli (MTE) has been awarded a Basic Science Award from the American Diabetes Association entitled “Adhesive and migratory cues for islet cells”. This three-year project focuses on the function of a neural protein named Slit-2 that his team has found to be expressed in the developing pancreas, and that appears to function as a migratory cue for pancreatic ductal cells marked by the expression of the progenitor marker Sox9. Preliminary work in the Cirulli’s laboratory suggests that Slit-2 exerts “awakening” functions on populations of ductal cells by eliciting a migratory phenotype. Ultimately, understanding the function of this neural chemotropic factor in the pancreas has important implications for both islet development and regeneration, as well as for the development of stem cell-based replacement therapies to cure diabetes. Dr. Cirulli is an Associate Professor in the Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition.