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“Type 1 diabetes is particularly tragic because it usually starts in childhood and its effects worsen with time. ”
Matthias von Herrath, M.D.
Division of Developmental Immunology

cell-bullet1.jpg"Type 1 diabetes is particularly tragic because it usually starts in childhood and its effects worsen with time. It can lead to organ damage, blindness and other terrible side effects.  That's why I focus so heavily on this disease.  I'm trained as a physician and I saw what it can do." - Matthias von Herrath, M.D.

Dr. von Herrath serves as Director of the Center for Type 1 Diabetes Research in addition to being a full Professor in the Division of Developmental Immunology. Dr. von Herrath's research focuses on strategies to prevent type 1 diabetes through the induction of regulatory T cells.

Matthias von Herrath, 
M.D.Dr. von Herrath wrote his thesis in the field of Biochemistry and then received his M.D. in Medicine from the Freiburg Medical School in Freiburg, Germany in 1988. He did his residency work at the Freiburg Medical Center in the Internal Medicine/Immunology department and at the Diakonic Hospital's Intensive Care Unit in Freiburg. For his postdoctoral work, Dr. von Herrath went to The Scripps Research Institute and worked in its Neuropharmacology and Immunology departments.

Dr. von Herrath is an editor and reviewer for numerous publications as well as being a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigator and a Council Member for the International Diabetes Society. In addition, he is an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. He is the recipient of the 2008 American Diabetes Association-Lilly Outstanding Scientist Achievements Award, the 2006 Grotzky Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International, the 2007-2012 Scholar Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, awarded the 2014 Langerhans-Preis – German Diabetes Foundation, and was ranked in 2014 as the #1 Juvenile Diabetes Expert by “Expertscape.”


research focus

cell-bullet2.jpg Matthias von Herrath, M.D., and his team study why the immune system sometimes attacks the body's own cells. They focus on type 1 diabetes, a disease caused by the immune system attacking the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, and on diseases caused by viral infections. Their goal is to develop and evaluate new treatments and therapies for these conditions, in particular immune-based interventions.

The laboratory has found that stimulating the immune system with beta cell proteins via DNA vaccines results in a beneficial, or regulatory, immune response that can prevent type 1 diabetes. The DNA vaccines are currently being developed for the clinic in collaboration with BayHill therapeutics.

In addition, Dr. von Herrath's team is studying how introducing immune response modifiers, such as small molecules named "cytokines" or certain antibodies, get the immune system back on track, stopping it from attacking the body's own cells. His laboratory is collaborating with a major diabetes consortium in the United States and Australia, supported in part by the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the Medical Research Council in Australia, on developing this strategy. This approach has proved effective in animals in an advanced stage of type 1 diabetes, and the hope is that this will translate to human patients.

Viral infections and the diseases they cause can be modulated through similar pathways. In parallel to the approach followed by the laboratory for type 1 diabetes, the focus is on developing treatments that will be effective after the infection has occurred.

To read more about Dr. von Herrath's work visit the Type 1 Diabetes Center.

selected publications

cell-bullet3.jpgHigher proinflammatory cytokine production and spontanous activation in some type 1 and type 2 diabetic subjects. Clin Immunol. 2014

Potential viral pathogenic mechanism in human type 1 diabetes. Diabetologia. 2014

Increased immune cell infiltration of the exocrine pancrease: A possible contribution to the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. Diabetes. 2014.

Regulatory T cells control diabetes without compromising acute anti-viral defense. Clin Immunol. 2014

Metabolic syndrome - Removing roadblocks to therapy: Antigenic immunotherapies. Mol Metab. 2014

Direct infection of dendritic cells during chronic viral infection suppresses antiviral T cell proliferation and induces IL-10 expression in CD4 T cells. PLoS One. 2014

Beta-cell specific production of IL6 in conjunction with a mainly intracellular but not mainly surface viral protein causes diabetes. J Autoimmun. 2014

Combination therapy with an anti-IL-1β antibody and GAD65 DNA vaccine can reverse recent-onset diabetes in the RIP-GP mouse model. Diabetes. 2014

CD8 T-cell reactivity to islet antigens is unique to type 1 while CD-4 T-cell reactivity exists in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. J Autoimmun. 2014

Non-antigenic and antigenic interventions in type 1 diabetes. Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2014

Exogenous OX40 stimulation during lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus infection impairs follicular Th cell differentiation and diverts DC4 T cells into the effector lineage by upregulating blimp-1. J Immunol. 2013

The clinical and immunological signficiance of GAD-specific autoantibody and T-cell responses in type 1 diabetes. J. Autoimmun. 2013.

Functional redundancy of CXCR3/CXCL10 signaling in the recruitment of diabetogenic cytotoxic T lymphocytes to pancreatic islets in a virally induced autoimmune diabetes model. Diabetes. 2013

Trials in type 1 diabetes: antigen-specific therapies. Clin Immunol. 2013

Antibody cross-reactivity and the viral aetiology of type 1 diabetes. J Pathol. 2013

Keeping the patient perspective: where are we in the world of type 1 diabetes. Clin Immunol. 2013

Temporal intra-individual variation of immunological biomarkers in type 1 diabetes patients: implications for future use in cross-sectional assessment. PLoS One. 2013

Transient B-cell depletion with anti-CD20 in combination with proinsulin DNA vaccine or oral insulin: immunologic effects and efficacy in NOD mice. PLoS One. 2013

Emerging immune therapies in type 1 diabetes and pancreatic islet transplantation. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2013

NKG2D blockade facilitates diabetes prevention by antigen-specific Tregs in a virus-induced model of diabetes. J Autoimmun. 2013

Progress in immune-based therapies for type 1 diabetes. Clin Exp Immunol. 2013

Combination therapy with anti-CD6 and oral insulin immunisation reverses recent onset diabetes in non obese diabetic mice but fails to induce lasting tolerance. Clin Immunol. 2013

Immunology in the clinic review series: focus on type 1 diabetes and viruses: the role of viruses in type 1 diabetes: a difficult dilemma. Clin Exp Immunol. 2012

Can an immune-regulatory vaccine prevent HIV infection? Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2012

Following the Fate of One Insulin-Reactive CD4 T cell Conversion Into Teffs and Tregs in the Periphery Controls Diabetes in NOD Mice. Diabetes. 2012

Combination therapy with InsB9-23 peptide immunization and CTLA4-IgG does not reverse diabetes in NOD mice. Clin Immunol. 2012

Demonstration of islet-autoreactive CD8 T cells in insulitic lesions from recent onset and long-term type 1 diabetes patients. J Exp Med. 2012

Intravital imaging of CTLs killing islet cells in diabetic mice. J Clin Invest. 2012

Virus Infections in type 1 diabetes. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2012

Antigen-specific prevention of type 1 diabetes in NOD mice is ameliorated by OX40 agonist treatment. J Autoimmun. 2011

Persistent glucose transporter expression on pancreatic beta cells from longstanding type 1 diabetic individuals. Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2011

How viral infections enhance or prevent type 1 diabetes-from mouse to man. J Med Virol. 2011

Development of Autoimmune Diabetes in the Absence of Detectable IL-17A in a CD8-Driven Virally Induced Model. J Immunol. 2011

How does type 1 diabetes develop?: the notion of homicide or β-cell suicide revisited.

Nasal cardiac myosin peptide treatment and OX40 blockade protect mice from acute and chronic virally-induced myocarditis. J Autoimmun. 2011

TLR2 signaling improves immunoregulation to prevent type 1 diabetes. Eur J Immunol. 2011

Viral infection prevents diabetes by inducing regulatory T cells through NKT cell-plasmacytoid dendritic cell interplay. J Exp Med. 2011

Type 1 diabetes: etiology, immunology, and therapeutic strategies. Physiol Rev. 2011

Increased memory conversion of naïve CD8 T cells activated during late phases of acute virus infection due to decreased cumulative antigen exposure. PLoS One. 2011

Humanizing animal models: a key to autoimmune diabetes treatment.
Sci Transl Med.

Pathology and pathogenesis of virus infections. The Immune Response to Infection. 2011

A novel technique for the in vivo imaging of autoimmune diabetes development in the pancreas by two-photon microscopy. PLoS One. 2010

Antigen-specific immunotherapy for type 1 diabetes: maximizing the potential. Diabetes. 2010

View all publications
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staff list
upcoming seminars
    "Zinc-induced Polymerization of Receptor at the Plasma Membrane: A New Form of Regulated Signal Transduction?"
    Wednesday 05/18/16: 12:00 PM
    "Exploring the Roles of Type-2 Cytokine-producing Mucosal Mast Cells in Allergic Disorder"
    Wednesday 06/01/16: 12:00 PM
  • 2008 American Diabetes Association–Lilly Outstanding Scientist Achievement Award
  • 2006 Grotzky Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International
  • 2007-2012 Scholar Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation
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