World-leading diabetes expert to speak about Islet Transplantation for Type 1 diabetes at 3U Diabetes Conference


Friday, 15th, January 2016: Islet transplantation, a treatment, not currently available for people with type 1 diabetes in Ireland, will be a major focus of the Fourth Annual 3U Partnership International Diabetes Conference entitled ‘Current Challenges in Diabetes Research’ which takes place at RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) in Dublin today.

Islet transplantation involves the replacement of islets of the pancreas, which contain the cells that make insulin. These cells are lacking in patients with type 1 diabetes. The research will be presented by Professor James Shaw, Chair of the UK Islet Transplant Consortium.

Dr Diarmuid Smith, Consultant Endocrinologist at Beaumont Hospital and member of the 3U Diabetes Partnership said “Transplant of islets, while never likely to be a treatment for all patients with type 1 diabetes, can be life-changing for some patients, in particular those who struggle to recognise and manage low blood sugar readings (hypoglycaemia) due to insulin treatment. Although this treatment has been available for almost twenty years in centres in North America and Europe, Irish patients are still not able to avail of it. We believe that this treatment should be available for patients in Ireland who would most benefit from it. Thankfully most of our patients with type 1 can manage their diabetes well enough with daily insulin injections or using a pump, but for some, hypoglycaemia can be distressing, dangerous and can seriously compromise their quality of life and for this cohort of people it has proven benefit. Although pancreas transplantation is available to patients in Ireland it is usually reserved for patients that also need kidney transplants. Over the past couple of years we have been working to develop a programme for Irish patients with support from colleagues in the UK, but investment locally is now required to get this programme off the ground.”

Researchers from the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Ireland will gather to address the conference which will focus on hot topics in research into both type-1 and type-2 diabetes. Diabetes is one of the commonest chronic diseases in Ireland affecting an estimated 4-5% of the population.

Other talks at the 3U Partnership conference will focus on the effect of hypoglycaemia on the brain, how damage to the islets of the pancreas contributes to the development of the more common form of diabetes, type 2 and the emerging role of hormones made in the intestines on obesity and diabetes.

Diabetes is a priority research focus of the 3U Partnership, which brings together the academic strengths of Dublin City University, Maynooth University and RCSI to enhance education and research opportunities across the three partner institutions. The 3U Diabetes Consortium, comprising clinicians and scientists from the three institutions, is committed to developing cutting edge research into this chronic and costly disease in Ireland and aligns a number of interlinked areas of research into the condition extending from identifying and developing new molecules with therapeutic potential to providing world class diabetes care and treatments in the clinic.

The Director of 3U Diabetes, Dr Donal O’Gorman of the School of Health and Human Performance at DCU, commented that ‘we are delighted to welcome such an impressive group of researchers to the 3U for this year’s conference. The faculty attending the conference will include clinical and basic science researchers from North America and Europe who will share their current research findings with us and discuss the challenges of managing type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This is timely given that the prevalence of both forms of diabetes is increasing year on year.”

Outgoing Clinical Lead for Diabetes, Dr. Ronan Canavan, will address the conference to update the group regarding the developments in diabetes care during his tenure. Dr. Canavan, Consultant Endocrinologist at St. Vincent’s University Hospital said “we have made significant progress in diabetes care delivery over the last three years in Ireland and it is timely to review that progress. However, the evidence that guides our clinical management and development of services is based on the research accomplished by researchers such as those gathered here today and it is for that reason that I am particularly delighted to have this opportunity to address the 3U Diabetes Conference.”

The meeting will be opened by Dr. Ruth Davis, Director of the 3U Partnership, who said “the 3U Diabetes meeting has become one of the most important events in the diabetes calendar over the last 4 years. It is also an important event for the three partner institutions and has allowed the consortium to develop collaborative links with leading institutions in the world of diabetes research. It is envisaged that these links will foster training opportunities for young Irish researchers and contribute significantly to the evolution and sustainability of the important 3U Partnership.’


For further information please contact:

Louise Loughran, Associate Director of Communications and Events, RCSI, 01 402 2242.

Niamh Walker, Communications Manager, RCSI

01 402 2218 / 086 608 6764 /
Conference photos available at