New Type 1 Diabetes Research Center and Elam Discovery Wall Dedicated

Released: 10/29/2009 4:40 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
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Newswise — The La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology, an international leader in immunology research and San Diego’s only research institute focused solely on immune-mediated diseases, today will dedicate its new Elam Discovery Wall and Type 1 Diabetes Center, which will focus on research into novel immunological-focused approaches to type 1 diabetes.

The discovery wall, a technologically advanced and visually stunning scientific research and education tool, is being dedicated in memory of William N. Elam, Jr., M.D., a longtime family physician and stepfather of Rancho Santa Fe resident and Institute friend Kevin Keller. During the dedication event, guests will be treated to powerful cellular images of type 1 diabetes activity via the Elam Discovery Wall, while speakers discuss the goals of the Institute’s new Center for type 1 diabetes research.

Led by Matthias von Herrath, M.D., one of the world’s top type 1 diabetes researchers and recipient of the American Diabetes Association’s prestigious 2008 Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award, the Center will accelerate research toward new therapies to better treat, prevent or cure type 1 diabetes. “Our mission is to be a premier center of immunological excellence in type 1 diabetes research,” said Dr. von Herrath. The Center will focus on new, immune-based approaches and is the first such immunologically focused research center for type 1 diabetes in Southern California. Dr. von Herrath said collaboration with local organizations is key to the Center’s efforts to combat type 1 diabetes.

“The San Diego life sciences community offers a very dynamic environment populated by world leaders in a variety of specialties,” said Dr. von Herrath. “We anticipate working collaboratively with scientific colleagues at several prominent San Diego research institutes, clinical care environments and biotechnology companies to aide our research efforts against type 1 diabetes.” The Center has close ties with the Pediatric Diabetes Research Center of UC San Diego, the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center at the Burnham Institute, and Rady Children’s Hospital, along with several private San Diego biotechnology companies. In addition, the La Jolla Institute works closely with the Brehm Coalition, a national scientific consortium devoted to accelerating research toward a type 1 diabetes cure.

Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is a serious, chronic disorder that affects more than 2 million Americans and occurs when the immune system mistakenly destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

During today’s reception, guests will get an up close view of beta cell destruction via high-resolution images on the new Elam Discovery Wall. The Wall technology was developed by the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at UC San Diego, which designed and now hosts the largest visualization wall in the world.

Referred to as a Highly Interactive Parallelized Display Space (HIPerSpace) Wall, the technology will give Institute researchers the ability to see cells and other research images in extremely wide scope with unprecedented clarity via a large, interconnected wall of HD monitors driven by sophisticated computer software. In addition to its potential as a highly innovative research tool, the Wall also provides a unique resource for educating the public about the value of basic research in fighting disease.

Patricia Ann Elam, wife of the late William Elam, Jr., M.D., said the Wall bearing her husband’s name reflects both his love for medicine and for invention. “He spent more than 50 years in the study and practice of general medicine,” she said. “But he also had an engineer’s mind and came from a family of inventive types.” His brother, James O. Elam, M.D., was a world renowned anesthesiologist and co-inventor of Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation – CPR. “I think my Dad would be very proud to see this Wall and the potential that it holds for aiding medical advancement and enhancing public awareness about the importance of basic biomedical research,” said Kevin Keller.

Stephen Wilson, Ph.D., La Jolla Institute Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, said the Wall is driven by an ultra high performance computing cluster using advanced real-time imaging technology that will enable Institute researchers to look at very large data sets in a whole new way.

“Our researchers will have the capability to view data magnified over a very large area, while simultaneously being able to zoom in on the tiniest details,” said Dr. Wilson. “We believe this technology offers an important discovery tool for our researchers by enabling them to collectively analyze data in new ways.”

About La Jolla Institute
Founded in 1988, the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology is a biomedical research nonprofit focused on improving human health through increased understanding of the immune system. Its scientists carry out research seeking new knowledge leading to the prevention of disease through vaccines and the treatment and cure of infectious diseases, cancer and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, Crohn’s disease and asthma. La Jolla Institute’s research staff includes more than 100 Ph.D.s and M.D.s.


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