High blood glucose levels can damage blood vessels in the long term, leading to increased risk of developing complications including diabetic retinopathy. Dr Medina is looking at using vascular stem cells to model diabetic retinopathy in the lab, and is investigating whether the stem cells could be used in a form of treatment to reverse the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy.
How did you get involved in type 1 research?
After my PhD studies on Stem Cell Biology in Japan, I was recruited to Queen’s University Belfast to investigate diabetic retinopathy. Since then, diabetes research and in particular, vascular complications have become the major research interest in my lab.
Has JDRF’s support made a difference to your research?
JDRF support is critical for the advancement of diabetes research. Technological developments are allowing amazing science; however, this is very expensive. Fortunately, JDRF funding has enabled diabetes research of top quality and the highest standard. I was awarded a JDRF Postdoctoral Fellowship and currently I hold a JDRF Career Development Award.
What keeps you motivated in your work as a scientist?
Positive results in our research, and the fact that our basic scientific studies have potential to translate into practical applications for the benefit of type 1 diabetic patients.
What is your hope for your research in the future?
Our research aims to apply Vascular Stem Cell Biology to Medicine. Research in my lab using vascular stem cells and endothelial progenitor cells has three clear applications: 1) Advancing basic scientific knowledge in diabetic vascular complications with identification of novel therapeutic targets; 2) Using cells as biomarkers in diabetic vasculopathies allowing personalized medicine; and 3) Development of a cell therapy to regenerate blood vessels damaged by diabetes.
When not in the lab, how do you spend your free time?
Travelling around the world. Reading.