Academic Rank:
Professor in the Departments of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Surgery
Irving K Barber Chair in Diabetes Research
Head, Diabetes Research Program, CFRI
Scientist Level 3, CFRI
Affiliation(s):
Child & Family Research Institute
Location:
Child & Family Research Institute

Short Bio:

Bruce Verchere, PhD, is a Professor in the Departments of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Surgery at the University of British Columbia (UBC), head of the Diabetes Research Program at the Child & Family Research Institute (CFRI) at BC Children’s Hospital, and the Irving K Barber Chair in Diabetes Research. His research aims to develop therapeutic approaches for enhancing beta cell survival and function in diabetes and islet transplants and he has published over 100 manuscripts in the field of islet biology and diabetes. Dr. Verchere was awarded the UBC Outstanding Young Alumnus award in 2000, the Canadian Diabetes Association Young Scientist award in 2006, and in 2012 received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for diabetes research and service. His research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA), and JDRF. Currently, Dr. Verchere is chair of the CIHR Diabetes Obesity Lipid and Lipoprotein Disorders and JDRF Islet Biology & Transplantation Training and Innovative grant review panels, and a member of the national research council and national board of directors of the Canadian Diabetes Association He has served on the editorial boards of Diabetes and the Canadian Journal of Diabetes and is currently on the editorial board of Endocrinology, and associate editor of the journal Islets.

Academic Backgrounds:
  • Post-doctoral fellow (Molecular Biology), University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland. 1997
  • Post-doctoral fellow (Medicine), Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Seattle, Washington Department of Medicine, Seattle, WA. 1996
  • PhD, University of British Columbia, Physiology. 1991
  • MSc, University of British Columbia, Physiology. 1987
  • BSc, University of British Columbia, Cell Biology. 1983
Selected Publications

View Dr. Verchere’s PubMed record here

Research:
  • Insulin-producing beta cell of the pancreatic islet. The beta cell synthesizes and secretes the precise amount of insulin into the blood so that glucose and other nutrients can be stored as energy in tissue. In persons with diabetes, beta cells are dysfunctional or are destroyed, resulting in a deficiency of insulin secretion, which in turn leads to high blood glucose levels. In type 1 (juvenile onset) diabetes, the beta cells are killed by the patient’s own immune system. In type 2 (adult onset) diabetes, there is a decreased sensitivity of the peripheral tissues to insulin, and the beta cells cannot secrete sufficient insulin to compensate for this demand. Eventually, insulin secretion declines, probably due to loss of beta cells because of the toxic effects of prolonged hyperglycemia and the accumulation of islet amyloid deposits. We are trying to understand how beta cells are killed in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In the long term, we hope to devise new ways to protect beta cells from dying, thereby slowing or preventing the onset of the disease.
  • Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes
  • Beta cell biology, islet amyloid, amylin, insulin, prohormone processing, apoptosis, hormone secretion, transgenic mice, islet transplantation, autoantigens, histology

 

In diabetes mellitus the pancreas’ insulin-producing beta cells have impaired function or are destroyed, resulting in deficient insulin secretion. This leads to high blood glucose levels and later complications, including kidney disease and blindness. In type 1 (juvenile onset) diabetes the patient’s own immune system kills the beta cells. In type 2 (adult onset) diabetes, the body is less sensitive to insulin produced, and the beta cells cannot secrete enough insulin to compensate. Over time, insulin secretion declines, probably due to a progressive loss of beta cells from the toxic effects of elevated blood glucose as well as the accumulation of protein-containing deposits called islet amyloid. Dr. Verchere’s lab is trying to understand how beta cells normally function and why they are dysfunctional and/or are destroyed in both types of diabetes.  They hope to devise new ways to protect beta cells, thereby slowing or preventing disease onset, and to enhance beta cell survival following transplantation of pancreatic islets into diabetic patients.