Richard Benninger, Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering, has been awarded a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Innovation award entitled “Non-Invasive Imaging of Pancreas Blood Flow Redistribution to Assess Insulitis and Islet Decline in Type1 Diabetes”. Type1 diabetes involves autoimmune destruction of insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas. As a result, lifelong insulin therapy is required, with significant elevation in the risk of diabetic complications including blindness, kidney disease, and cardiovascular diseases. There are currently no clinical approaches to monitor the ongoing decline in beta cells prior to clinical presentation of diabetes, as well as to monitor the success of any preventative treatment. This JDRF Innovation award will build upon recent findings in the Benninger Research Group showing that contrast enhanced ultrasound can detect changes in islet microvascular function in animal models during the preclinical stage of type1 diabetes progression. Specifically it will validate whether the success of preventative therapeutic treatments can be predicted early, prior to diabetes onset. It will also investigate ways to translate this approach to clinical testing. Ultimately the goal is to develop a means to improve the early diagnosis of underlying disease development and enable successful treatments to prevent diabetes.