EAST LANSING, MI – Michigan State University is proud to announce that Drs. Wen Li, Ping Wang, and Zhen Qiu, investigators from the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), Radiology, Biomedical Engineering (BME), and the Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering (IQ) have been awarded a prestigious $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Smart and Connected Health (SCH) program. The grant aims to propel groundbreaking research towards a novel solution for Type 1 diabetes (T1D) treatment, potentially revolutionizing the lives of millions affected by this chronic autoimmune disease.

The project, titled “A Wireless Optoelectronic Implant for Closed-Loop Control of Bi-Hormone Secretion from Genetically Modified Islet Organoid Grafts,” will bring together a collaborative team of experts from Michigan State University and the University of Texas-Austin to tackle the significant challenge of managing T1D more effectively.

Dr. Li (Electrical and Computer Engineering and IQ, MSU), Dr. Wang (Radiology, MSU) and Dr. Qiu (BME and IQ, MSU), will lead this interdisciplinary endeavor, joined by Dr. Yaoyao Jia of UT-Austin’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The team’s diverse expertise encompasses biomedical microelectromechanical systems (BioMEMS), biosensors, stem cell biology, wireless telemetries, microelectronics, and organoid transplantation.

The central goal of the research is to develop an innovative framework that enables precise, continuous, and closed-loop control of bi-hormone (such as insulin or glucagon) secretion from stem cell-derived pancreatic islet organoids. The organoids will be transplanted into animal models with T1D. This cutting-edge approach involves the use of tiny wireless optoelectronic implants, effectively leveraging optogenetic tools to manipulate the secretion of these critical hormones for blood glucose homeostasis.

The potential impact of this research is tremendous. The team believes that successfully controlling bi-hormone secretion from islet organoids could mark a significant leap forward in the search for a cure for T1D. The technology, if developed, could be expanded to other optogenetic cell models, extending its potential impact even further to fields beyond diabetes treatment.

T1D affects millions globally, imposing immense burdens on patients and the healthcare system. This project offers new hope for improved quality of life and reduced medical costs. Moreover, the collaboration between Michigan State University and the University of Texas-Austin promises to advance not only medical science but also educational and outreach activities, fostering STEM education and training the next generation of biomedical innovators.

“This project epitomizes the transformative potential of interdisciplinary research,” says Dr. Wen Li. “By merging expertise from electrical engineering, biomedical engineering, radiology, and

stem cell biology, we are poised to develop a technological therapy that could change the lives of those living with Type 1 diabetes.”

Michigan State University and its partners look forward to witnessing the evolution of this groundbreaking research and the positive outcomes it could bring for T1D patients worldwide. The collaboration between institutions, departments, and rese`archers emphasizes the power of collective knowledge and innovation.