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Rebecca Spiers

BSc (Hons), DPhil (Ox)

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Currently on maternity leave

I am a member of the clinical islet isolation team; isolating human islets for transplantation into patients with type 1 diabetes as part of the NHS funded nationwide Clinical Islet Transplant Program. 

I take responsibility within the group for improving and maintaining the teams integral electronic databases. Funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), I also facilitate the distribution of islets for research purposes, to various groups within Oxford University, and other centres around the U.K, who participate in diabetes research. Islet allocation is determined by an algorithm, which matches islet characteristics to external centres based on their pre-requested characteristics for islets, thus allowing research islets to be effectively utilised. 

I have recently completed a DPhil within the department. My research aims to optimise the human islet extraction process by defining the structure and composition of the islet extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM that surrounds the islet must be effectively digested by enzymes to facilitate the liberation of free islets from the pancreas for transplantation. Specifically, I am interested in how this digestion process is influenced by donor age, given that isolating islets from younger donors pancreases remains an extreme technical challenge.