Nicholas Zavazava, MD PhD

Contact Information

Office: C429-1 GH 
Phone: 319-384-6577 
Faculty Profile

Brief description of current research:

Type 1 diabetes is a devastating disease that is caused by the immunological destruction of pancreatic ß-cells which secrete insulin. This autoimmune disease can be cured by either the transplantation of cadaveric pancreatic islets or that of whole pancreatic organs. Unfortunately the number of available cadaveric donors is insufficient to treat the thousands of patients on the waiting list. Our goal in this project is to generate patient-tailored ß-cells from the patient’s own skin cells and transplant them back to the patient. The idea is that we would completely eliminate the need for patients to be on the waiting list and their need for immunosuppression. If successful, this strategy would significantly improve patient care, reduce management costs and save lives. We are currently testing these cells for their glucose responsiveness and their susceptibility to autoimmune antibodies, which ultimately contribute to the destruction of human ß-cells.


3 most influential diabetes/obesity/metabolism publications:

  • Raikwar, SP and Zavazava, N. Spontaneous in vivo differentiation of embryonic stem cell-derived pancreatic endoderm-like cells corrects hyperglycemia in diabetic mice. Transplantation 2011 Nov 9. [Epub ahead of print] 15;91(1):11-20.
  • Raikwar, SP and Zavazava, N. Pdx1-engineered embryonic stem cell-derived insulin producing cells regulate hyperglycemia in diabetic mice. Transplantation Research 2012 Oct 18;1(1):19. doi: 10.1186/2047-1440-1-19.
  • Fiona, P., Voltarelli, J. and Zavazava, N. Immunological applications in type 1 diabetes. Endocr Rev. 2011 Dec;32(6):725-54. doi: 10.1210/er.2011-0008. Epub 2011 Aug 23.