Schulze Diabetes Institute

Our people

Developing a cure takes the synergy of brilliant and creative minds, state-of-the-art facilities and robust funding to ensure our scientists can do their work.

The Schulze Diabetes Institute brings it all together, thanks in large part to the world-class talents of our distinguished faculty.

Our scientists are international leaders in diabetes research and islet transplantation. And while they work in laboratories and medical facilities, their work remains sharply focused on what it can do for the patient.

Because of our faculty, we are able attract more of the best and brightest to our team, and the funding needed to propel our efforts forward.

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Bernhard Hering, M.D.

Dr Hering is Professor of Surgery and Medicine and Scientific Director of the Schulze Diabetes Institute at the University of Minnesota, USA where he also holds the Eunice L. Dwan Chair in Diabetes Research and the McKnight Presidential Chair in Transplantation Science.

He is an internationally renowned expert in islet cell transplantation, with his research focusing on innovating and implementing cell-based therapeutics into specialty care biologics for type 1 diabetes. The human islet transplant protocol that he and his team have refined has markedly improved short-term and long-term clinical outcomes in patients with type 1 diabetes; the key protocol elements have been adopted for the Phase III licensure trial of human islets by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored multi-center Clinical Islet Transplant Consortium.

Dr. Hering is also widely recognized as a leader in investigating the use of alternative sources of islet cells through xenotransplantation. His research group was the first to demonstrate long-term diabetes reversal after adult pig islet xenotransplants in nonhuman primates, an accomplishment that has reinvigorated the field of xenotransplantation. Dr. Hering co-founded Spring Point Project, an organization established to generate designated pathogen-free, ‘medical-grade’ source pigs for planned clinical translation of islet xenotransplantation. To minimize the need for recipient immunosuppression, Dr. Hering is partnering with leaders in immunology to integrate preemptive treatment with donor antigen and surface engineering of donor islets into a safe, successful, and clinically applicable rejection prophylaxis strategy.

A sought-after speaker at national and international conferences, he has given more than 225 invited lectures including key note lectures at national and international meetings. Dr. Hering has also been invited to advise the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institute of Health on issues related to xenotransplantation and cellular therapies for diabetes. He has sat on the editorial boards of several professional journals and is the author or co-author of 25 book chapters and of over 200 articles, including articles in Nature, Nature Medicine, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, New England Journal of Medicine, and the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Hering has served on steering committees of major clinical research programs in transplantation, type 1 diabetes, and immune tolerance. He has been a long-term member of the steering committee of the NIH Immune Tolerance Network; he currently serves on the steering committees of the NIH Clinical Islet Transplant Consortium, NIH Nonhuman Primate Transplantation Collaborative Study Group, and NIH Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet. Dr Hering is also the Medical Director of the NIH Collaborative Islet Transplant Registry (CITR). He was President of the Cell Transplant Society and currently serves as President of the International Xenotransplantation Association (IXA) and as President-Elect of the International Pancreas and Islet Transplant Association (IPITA).

In recognition for his outstanding contributions to islet transplantation, Dr. Hering was named in 2012 by U.S. News & World Report and Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. one of America’s Top Doctors, a distinction reserved for the top 1% of physicians across the U.S. for their specialty.

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David Sutherland, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Sutherland is the Founding Director of the Schulze Diabetes Institute and Professor Emeritus of Surgery at the University of Minnesota, responsible for training a large number of surgeons performing whole-organ pancreas transplants worldwide. 

As a young U of M resident in 1966, he witnessed the first kidney-pancreas transplant -- and has dedicated his career to offer a better quality of life for people with diabetes ever since.

Dr. Sutherland is a surgeon, researcher, pioneer, administrator, leader, mentor, professor and respected colleague to thousands worldwide.

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Chris Burlak, Ph.D.

Dr. Burlak is an Associate Professor of Surgery and Scientific Program Director of the Schulze Diabetes Institute at the University of Minnesota. He is internationally recognized for his contributions to the field of xenotransplantation.

He and his group have overcome molecular and immunologic incompatibilities that have previously prevented pig organs and cells from being considered clinically.

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Melena Bellin, M.D.

Dr. Bellin’s research focus is islet transplantation for patients with type 1 diabetes and for patients who have their pancreas removed to treat severe chronic pancreatitis. 

She completed her pediatric residency and pediatric endocrine fellowship training at the University of Minnesota, and joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2009, with a joint appointment in Pediatrics and Surgery.

SDI Islet Core Team photo

The Islet Core Team

Past & Present Team Members


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  • Last modified on July 22, 2015