UCD Diabetes Complications Research Centre


The UCD Diabetes Complications Research Centre (DCRC) focuses on the macro and macrovascular complications of diabetes and obesity.  

We comprise a multidisciplinary research group with expertise in molecular cell biology, genetics, bioinformatics, pharmacology, systems biology, chemical pathology and clinical medicine. Investigators are based in the UCD Conway Institute, the Mater Misericordiae University and St Vincent’s University Hospitals and work closely with international collaborators in academia and industry. Research programmes are funded by national and international sources including Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), The European Union, Wellcome Trust, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), European Renal Association (ERA), European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) and bio pharma industry.

The DCRC is primary associated with the UCD School of Medicine and also associated with the School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Sciences (SBBS), School of Veterinary Medicine and School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sport Science (SPPSS). We are based in the UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research.

Our Research Areas Include:

  • Diabetic Kidney Disease
  • Bariatric Health
  • Metabolic Medicine
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Nutrigenomics
  • Epigenetics
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic Inflammation
  • Obesity and Innate Immunity
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Food Intake and Satiety
  • Resolution Pharmacology
  • Renal Fibrosis
  • Insulin Resistance

International Collaborations

Over the past decade we have applied differential gene expression technologies to identify novel genes expressed in in vitro and in vivo models of diabetic nephropathy [DN] and, importantly, in human renal tissue. Current efforts focus on mining these datasets and probing the regulation of expression and actions of specific molecules. We have identified novel roles for molecules such as the BMP antagonist Gremlin, induced by high glucose-1, IHG-1, a protein that amplifies fibrotic responses in the context of DN and Connective Tissue Growth Factor, a growth factor which drives scarring in the kidney and other organs.

As part of an international consortium with investigators at Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) we have used genome wide association studies to identify genetic polymorphisms linked to DN, which will help understand the genetic susceptibility to this devastating condition. We have explored the potential of the anti-inflammatory eicosanoid lipoxin to promote resolution and inhibit pathologic responses in models of disease. Thus, we have identified factors that may influence progression of DN and are potential targets for novel therapies including IHG-1, CTGF and Gremlin which exacerbate renal injury and protective lipid mediators such as lipoxins which are protective. These agents target distinct cell types and processes and may also implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy.

We have further characterised these and related modulators in order to define the molecular mechanisms underlying DN. Our access to human samples including blood, urine and renal biopsy materials facilitates our efforts to identify those targets most relevant to human disease. In 2012 noteworthy achievements for DCRC investigators included Prof le Roux’s highly prestigious President of Ireland Young Researcher Award, NIH funding for the Diabetes Complications Consortium, EU Marie Curie Outgoing fellowship award to Dr Emma Borgeson to UC San Diego. Investigators were invited to make presentations at several important international conferences including the Keystone Conference on Diabetic Complications (USA), the International Society for Nephrology Conference on Systems Biology of the Kidney (USA), and the International Society for Nephrology Conference on Tubulointerstial Fibrosis (Australia).