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Prof. Philip Diiorio

Assistan Professor
Diabetes and Molecular Medicine Univ. Massachusetts Medical School
373 Plantation St. Suite 218

Brief Biography:

I completed my undergraduate BA in Biology with a minor in English and Philosophy concentration at Merrimack College (magna cum laude, Presidential Scholar). I spent three years during undergraduate and one year post graduate (four years total) as both 1) a Peer Composition Tutor in the Merrimack Writing Center and 2) as Tutor and Associate Director of "Aceept the Challenge", an English as a Second Language program for academically promising minority students in Lawrence (MA) High School. My graduate studies were in the Departments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Molecular Biology at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. My thesis work was a physiological genetics study of thermal adaptation in desert dwelling and tropical species of livebearing fish from the genus Poeciliopsis. From there, I took a post-doc to learn zebrafish genetics in the Endocrinology Division at New England Medical Center. It is here I was introduced to Developmental Biology and came to embrace how, through mechanistic investigations into beta cell development, basic research is linked to clinical therapies for e.g., diabetes. I moved from Boston to the University of Massachusetts Diabetes Division

Academic positions:

2011- Research Assistant Professor, Diabetes Center of Excellence and Program of Molecular Medicine, Univ. of Mass. Medical School. 2010-2011 Instructor, Program of Molecular Medicine and Diabetes Center of Excellence University of Massachusetts Medical School. 2004-2010 Instructor, Department of Medicine, Division of Diabetes, University of Massachusetts Medical School. 2000-2004 Post-doctoral fellow, Department of Medicine, Division of Diabetes, University of Massachusetts Medical School 1996-2001 Post-doctoral fellow, Department of Endocrinology, New England Medical Center, Boston, MA.

Research interests:

After my Graduate training in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of CT (Storrs), I shifted my research focus to mechanisms of vertebrate developmental biology, with an emphasis on embryology of the pancreas. I am an experienced anatomist with expertise in microscopy and image analysis, molecular biology and genetics. Currently my lab is interrogating the morphological and molecular mechanisms of human pancreas embryology both in vivo and ex vivo. Our work identifies gaps in our knowledge of human pancreas development at early stages, where we ask: What is the gross morphology and organization of endocrine progenitors within the human ductal epithelium? Do the mouse counterparts to multipotent progenitor cells i.e., CPA1+/high Myc expressing cells, exist and how long they persist in developing human pancreas? Where and when, in comparison to mouse pancreas development, do bi-potent ductal and endocrine progenitors arise? and Whether human endocrine cell “delaminate” like mice to form clusters and islets. To access late developmental stages (primary tissue is unavailable beyond 22 weeks gestation) of islet re-organization and maturation we transplant fetal human pancreas tissue into novel immunodeficient mice. From these tissues we ask: When do fetal islets become capable of glucose-stimulated-insulin secretion (GSIS)? and What are the morphological and gene expression signatures of functional fetal islets? Our group uses a number of different approaches to interrogate these questions including (most prominently) anatomical/histological identification of pancreas in fetal tissue specimens, immuno-histochemistry and -fluorescence, in situ hybridization, confocal microscopy, RNA and miRNA analyses (qRT-PCR, TaqMan Assays, RNASeq), viral transduction and chemical transfection of primary tissues, tissue culture, image analysis, and database development and management.

Any other information:

Continuing member and ad hoc reviewer, American Diabetes Association, Endocrine Society, American Society for Cell Biology. Co-chair, Univ. Mass. Medical School Council on Equal Opportunity and Diversity.

What I think of the idea behind WebmedCentral:

I think the time WebmedCentral is overdue in scientific publishing. For too many, reviews of manuscripts--those, in particular, of lesser rank and reputation--have been characterized by terse rejection with little (constructive) indication of a manuscripts flaws. Further, I see, in my role as reviewer, astonishingly little effort made to understand what authors intend to convey. This is particularly true for non-native English speakers, and will often serve as a reason for rejecting a paper. Too many times these (in my opinion) minor concerns dictate rejection of work that is scientifically sound. I think my view of scientific peer review is congruent with WebmedCentral in that I believe the open review process will promote more encouragement and constructive comments centered around substance (experimental design and interpretation of results) and less about the authors and their writing abilities. I think the post-publication review and commentary are extremely valuable to both readers ("how was this experiment done?") and authors ("I see how a reader might interpret these data differently").