The Decade to Change Diabetes

The Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center has embarked on a decade-long quest to reshape the world's understanding and treatment of diabetes and related disorders. We are deploying the next generation of therapies, including many developed at the Berrie Center.

We now know that diabetes, in all its forms, starts long before blood sugars rise. There are many more complications than those associated with high blood sugar, e.g.: eye, kidney, and nerve problems. The scientific tools are now at hand to make quantum leaps in understanding and, ultimately, treatment. 

Areas of Innovation

The Berrie Center is driving innovation in key areas for diabetes research: neurometabolism, emerging complications, immunometabolism, and experimental therapeutics



Neurometabolism refers to the metabolic processes that are controlled by the brain or take place within the brain.


Where We Are

The brain plays many critical roles in unconsciously regulating metabolism and immune function. New therapies to reverse type 2 diabetes through weight-loss work by chronically activating parts of the brain that are typically only turned on right after you eat a meal. 

Where We Need To Go

The secrets of long-term feeding behavior and why weight increases slowly but progressively are locked in our brains. Recent studies also suggest that the signals from the brain modulate our immune system – yet nothing is known about whether these signals play a role in autoimmunity and beta-cell destruction. Mapping the brain circuits and identifying the neurons that regulate feeding, insulin release, and immune function is the focus of the Neurometabolism Program at the Berrie Center.

Emerging Diabetic Complications

A person, with various organs and biological systems highlighted representing: Cancers,  Asthma, AutoimmuneDisorders, NAFLD/NASH/ESLD, Dementia, CardiovascularDisease, Type 2 DM/Type 1 DM, ImmuneDysfunctionInfections, and Dysbiosis

Emerging diabetic complications refer to health issues and conditions not commonly associated with diabetes that are gaining recognition and becoming better understood. 


Where We Are

The constellation of classic diabetic complications – blindness, kidney failure, chronic wounds, and nerve damage – have been nearly vanquished for those who can access modern care. But what has become clear is that diabetes in all its forms predisposes people to many other, "emerging complications" – including autoimmune disorders, dementia, and a large number of cancers. We have almost no understanding of why people with diabetes are at an increased risk for these other disorders.

Where We Need To Go

Our first goal is to understand the relationship and mechanism by which people with diabetes are at risk for emerging complications. Recruiting, training, and supporting scientists to do the basic and translational research to understand the connection between diabetes and emerging complications.



Immunometabolism is a field of study that explores the intricate interconnection between the immune system and cellular metabolism. It investigates how the metabolic processes within cells influence immune responses and how immune signals impact cellular metabolism.


Where We Are

It has been long known that dysfunction of the immune system leads to Type 1 Diabetes, but pioneering studies by Berrie Center investigators changed the face of Type 2 Diabetes research when it was revealed that insulin resistance activates the immune system in fat and other key metabolic organs.

Where We Need To Go

We have two challenges – to control the immune response in people with Type 1 Diabetes and to understand and harness the immune response in people with Type 2 Diabetes. Underway are studies to" re-educate" the immune system to prevent autoimmune destruction of beta cells and to engineer the immune system to handle lipids that are at the root cause of insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes.

Experimental Diabetes Therapeutics

A closeup of a microscope being used by researcher

Experimental diabetes therapeutics research focuses on developing and testing novel treatments, interventions, or therapeutic approaches for curing or alleviating the symptoms of diabetes.


Where We Are

The engineers, chemists, and scientists affiliated with the Berrie Center are continually working to take novel insights and transform them into new therapies. For example, in the last two decades, scientists at Columbia and throughout the world have developed tools to understand some of the complex machinery of cells and to use that information to re-engineer the machinery to treat various diseases. The Berrie Center's pioneering work has turned the skin cells of patients into insulin-producing cells that behave like authentic beta cells.

Where We Need To Go

The Berrie Center is working with the University and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital to build the infrastructure needed to deliver new therapies to patients. This will require building facilities and expanding the training and recruitment of translational scientists who will lead new trials and therapy development.

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