Type 1 Diabetes Node

The Charles Perkins Centre has established a Type 1 Diabetes Node that will pioneer new approaches to cell-based therapies to treat the disease. 

The Node Membership includes:

  • Peter Thorn, Chair of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, University of Sydney
  • Melkam Kebede, University of Sydney
  • Tony Weiss, Sir Samuel McCaughey Chair in Biochemistry, University of Sydney
  • Marcela Bilek, University of Sydney
  • James Hudson, University of Queensland
  • Enzo Porrello, University of Queensland

"The team consists of expert leaders in the complementary approaches that are needed for the success of this project. Melkam Kebede and Peter Thorn are experts in the cell biology of glucose sensing and insulin secretion. Enzo Porrello and James Hudson are leaders in stem cell approaches and engineering. Tony Weiss has specific expertise in tissue engineering and creating artificial vascular networks. Marcela Bilek is expert in the creation of biologically functionalised surfaces."

A central mission of the Charles Perkins Centre is to ease the health care burden of diabetes. Current treatments for type 1 diabetes have limited ability to maintain blood glucose within the narrow range that is required to prevent serious long-term damage. As a result, patients develop cardiovascular and renal complications that can be fatal.

Our project is rooted in basic science but has a strong translational element that could lead to much better outcomes and potentially a cure for type 1 diabetes. This ambitious goal is underpinned by a strong, founding, multidisciplinary team which will be expanded to recruit further expertise as required.


We propose to use human induced pluripotent stem cells to generate cells that will faithfully monitor blood glucose and secrete exactly the amount of insulin to control glucose levels. To apply this therapeutically, we will use tissue engineering to create a microenvironment and enable these cells to thrive and function within the patient.