Islet Autotransplant Research Program


Research Program Focus

Dr. Bellin’s research is focused on understanding and improving outcomes after islet transplantation.  Islet transplant is a specialized procedure in which islets are harvested from the pancreas and infused back in the liver.  This procedure can be performed for patients who are having a pancreatectomy to treat chronic pancreatitis (total pancreatectomy with islet autotransplant) or for patients who have type 1 diabetes (alloislet transplant).

This is a clinical research team.  All research we are conducting is clinical or translational in nature, and relies on human research participants or biological specimens collected from research participants.  Specific efforts of this group are addressing important clinical challenges, including:

  • Determining which patients will have pain relief and improved quality of life from total pancreatectomy with islet autotransplant and when to intervene with major surgery for chronic pancreatitis.
  • Understanding factors that impact the number of islets that can be isolated out of a pancreas
  • Developing new therapies to improve the survival and engraftment of transplanted islets
  • Understanding the outcomes of total pancreatectomy islet autotransplant in children with genetic pancreatitis
  • Understanding risk and mechanisms underlying diabetes in pancreatitis
  • How to best use cell transplant therapy (beta cell replacement therapy) to reverse need for insulin injections in patients with type 1 diabetes.

Research group members from left to right: Louise Berry, Emily Spiegeler, Melena Bellin, Peggy Ptacek, Cathy Kneeland, Jayne Pederson

Louise Berry, Emily Spiegeler, Melena Bellin, Peggy Ptacek, Cathy Kneeland, Jayne Pederson

Research Members

  • Peggy Ptacek: Research Coordinator
  • Cathy Kneeland:  Research Coordinator
  • Jayne Pederson:  Research Coordinator
  • Louise Berry:  Clinical coordinator for the TPIAT program and Research Coordinator


We have opportunities for a small number of students to participate in clinical research projects.  These positions are unfunded. However, depending on their training program, trainees may be able to get credit for a research rotation. If you are interested in more information you can contact Dr. Melena Bellin at


Functional outcomes after extrahepatic transplantation of islets in a pilot cohort of TPIAT patients
KR McEachron, GJ Beilman, TB Dunn, TL Pruett, V Kirchner, MD Bellin

Read abstract that was presented at the 2019 Pancreas Club meeting in San Diego, CA
View the Poster

Changes in inflammatory cytokine levels in acute and subacute phases of islet engraftment after total pancreatectomy and islet autotransplantation (TPIAT)
KR McEachron, GJ Beilman, S Chinnakotla, TL Pruett, TB Dunn, V Kirchner, MD Bellin

Read the abstract that was presented at PancreasFest 2019 in Pittsburgh, PA


Moos Tower, 13th Floor, within the Schulze Diabetes Institute

516 Delaware St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455