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General Information

OverviewOverview of the program

The Integrated Islet Distribution Program (IIDP) began at City of Hope (COH) as the Islet Cell Resource in 2002, and has been operating as the IIDP since 2009, as the largest organized effort in the world to provide human islet preparations for research. Because human islet research is critical to understanding pancreatic cellular biology and the pathophysiology of diabetes, and given the substantial differences to murine islets, access to the human islets is essential to translate findings from cell lines and mouse models. Therefore, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), continues to fund the IIDP, led by Drs. Joyce C. Niland and Carmella Evans-Molina, which affords ongoing coordination, information technology, and financial infrastructure, while offering innovative new biomaterials and integrated data to advance diabetes research.

Joyce C. Niland, Ph.D., as Chair of the Department of Diabetes & Cancer Discovery Science at the Arthur Riggs Diabetes and Metabolism Research Institute at City of Hope, with Carmella Evans-Molina, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Indiana Diabetes Research Center at Indiana University (IU), its Islet and Physiology Core, and the IU Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases, serve as Principal Investigators (PIs) for this program. Each bring their own necessary expertise to this vital program; Dr. Niland with over 40 years of experience in study coordination, informatics, biostatistics, and overseeing national/international coordinating centers and Dr. Evans-Molina as a physician scientist with expertise in human islet biology, specializing in clinical diabetes. The PIs are supported by a staff that have an impressive 150 years of experience in relevant programming, islet biology, regulatory, biostatistical and administrative expertise to assist in IIDP management.

Islet Isolation CentersIslet isolation centers affiliated with IIDP

Pivotal to IIDP’s mission is providing reliable, high quality resources to the research community from industry-leading Islet Isolation Centers (IICs). Each of the current 10 geographically diverse IICs was qualified based on: isolation team and center director credentials, working relationships with local as well as specific distant Organ Procurement Organizations with provision of consistent access to quality pancreata from donors that have been qualified for organ transplant, exemplary islet isolation history, and stable recipient satisfaction.

The IIDP integrates this interactive group of IICs to maintain standardized protocols for the culture and shipping of human islets, both cultured and flash frozen. Most recently, the IIDP’s IICs offer an array of biospecimens from the same islet donor, including non-islet pancreatic tissue (ductal and acinar - fresh or frozen), serum, plasma, duodenal tissue, peripancreatic lymph nodes, spleen samples, and frozen pancreatic pieces. Each shipment is accompanied by comprehensive donor and isolation information, pre-shipment islet assessments for purity, viability, and islet quality ranking. The IIDP maintains an exclusive algorithm as part of a fair and equitable Islet Allocation System, which broadcasts the availability of human islets and non-islet biospecimens from each isolation center to subscribing investigators world-wide, tracks acceptance of tissue, and maintains feedback from the recipients. More information

IIDP Phenotyping and Genotyping Initiatives

The Human Islet Phenotyping Program (HIPP) was established per NIH mandate in the summer of 2016 and awarded to the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center after a peer-reviewed application process. The HIPP is managed by Dr. Marcela Brissova, also director of the Islet Procurement and Analysis Core at the Vanderbilt Diabetes Research and Training Center. The goal of the HIPP initiative is to provide standardized assessment of IIDP-contracted human islet preparations to understand the relationship between islet phenotypic features and key donor characteristics. HIPP generated data include purity, viability and potency assessments as well as hormone content and histological analysis of total preparation for endocrine vs exocrine cells and average composition of α, β, and δ cells through standardized assays. Real-time and complementary data are currently available to the IIDP-affiliated Islet Isolation Centers and Investigators through the IIDP-HIPP database

In 2020, IIDP implemented the Human Islet Genotyping Initiative (HIGI) via a subaward to Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA with Dr. Anna Gloyn, a top tier genetics collaborator with expertise in diabetes, as director of this program. To provide a summary of the genetic characteristics of each donor, the HIGI will generate partitioned genetic risk (pGRS) scores for type 1 and type 2 diabetes. These pGRS are visualized on the IIDP Research Data Repository (RDR), to provide an overview of the genetic contributions of a variety of physiological processes (e.g. islet cell, liver, adipose dysfunction) to each individual donor’s diabetes risk. HIGI also provides comprehensive, genomic ancestry data for each islet donor, which can also be found in the RDR.

Investigators Information for investigators

The IIDP prides itself on providing excellent customer service and robust facilitation of high-level science to all approved investigators who participate in our program world-wide. IIDP has developed a custom Matching Algorithm for Islet Distribution (MAID) to provide fair and equitable human islet distribution from our contracted islet isolation centers to our subscribing investigators via our computerized Islet Allocation System.

Researchers interested in accessing islets, tissue, or data through the IIDP must complete an online application. Approved investigators are given access to the IIDP secure website and personalized pages containing details of their islet distribution records, including donor data, islet isolation information, and pre-shipment assessment results, alerts to pending offers or warnings for limited funds or missing feedback forms, and protected access to study’s financial information. More information

A HIPP data pipeline has been created using the latest technologies and will be secure, easy to use, and accessible via desktop as well as mobile devices, providing standardized purity, viability, composition, and hormone secretion measures. HIPP will provide additional phenotypic data on islet shipments from islet isolation centers affiliated with IIDP. These data will include purity, viability and potency assessments as well as hormone content and histological analysis of total preparation for endocrine vs exocrine cells and average composition of α, β, and δ cells through standardized assays.
The centers send formalin-fixed, embedded native pancreas samples to the coordinating center for slide creation, staining, storage, and pathological analysis, creating a histology sample bank for islet recipients. >600 samples have been processed, >800 stained images are on the website, and >5000 stained/unstained slides are available to investigators.
Expanded donor data from United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is available for download by investigators for each islet isolation to further assist investigators in evaluating the donor characteristics of islet samples they received.
As visualizations for potential islet recipients, our centers upload pre-broadcast count images of dithizone stained islets, with zoom feature and an islet size template on the counting dish.
A coordinating center pilot study compared standard IIDP shipping method (2008) to cold shipping Prodo Labs protocol; the new protocol was equal to/better than standard, saving the program 64% in islet shipment costs via less expensive materials, lower media volume, and reduced FedEx costs.

International Shipping

The IIDP has been providing international investigators with human islets from our islet isolation centers.
To date the IIDP has served 15 countries outside the United States.