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Juan Dominguez-Bendala, United States

University of Miami

Juan Domínguez-Bendala is Professor (Department of Surgery) at the University of Miami. He obtained his PhD at the Roslin Institute of the University of Edinburgh (Scotland, UK) under the supervision of Jim McWhir, one of the creators of Dolly the sheep. Since 2004, he directs the Stem Cell & Pancreatic Regeneration Laboratory at the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI), University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The main lines of research in the Domínguez-Bendala Lab revolve around the development of regenerative strategies for type 1 diabetes, including stem cell differentiation into insulin-producing β-cells and islet regeneration. Alongside Dr. Chris Fraker, his team discovered the key instructive role of molecular oxygen to drive β-cell differentiation and patented novel culture devices that provide enhanced oxygenation for stem cell cultures. They also developed innovative genetic fail-safe approaches (Qadir et al., Stem Cell Rep, 2019) to enhance the safety of pluripotent stem cell transplantation. Since 2015, Drs. Domínguez-Bendala and his DRI collaborator Ricardo Pastori have focused on the induction of human pancreatic ductal BMP-responsive progenitor cells, which they have identified and characterized by lineage tracing (Klein et al., Diabetes, 2015; Qadir et al., Cell Rep, 2018); single-cell RNAseq and transplantation of sorted populations (Qadir et al., PNAS, 2020); and organotypic culture (human pancreatic slices) techniques (Qadir et al., Nature Comms, 2020). Their seminal contribution to the development of the latter has enabled for the first time the real-time monitoring of β-cell regeneration in an in vitro setting that resembles the native organ. A well-defined research pipeline is expected to help realize the full potential of single-cell transcriptomics to unveil dynamic biological processes, model human pancreatic disease, and, ultimately, enable the development of regenerative therapies for diabetes.

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