Prominent diabetes researcher moving from UPMC to Allegheny Health Network

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In February, Massimo Trucco said the fate of his decadeslong research to cure type 1 diabetes depended on a $7 million to $10 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Without funding, he said, he would shelve the research and retire.

Something unexpected has happened in the meantime.

The internationally renowned researcher currently based at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, along with 19 members of his research team, are moving to the Allegheny Health Network, effective July 1.

Dr. Trucco, a professor of pediatric immunology with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, will lead AHN’s newly established Institute of Cellular Therapeutics, based at Allegheny General Hospital on the North Side. There his research will focus on genetics and immunology, with continuation of breakthrough diabetes research that’s scheduled to undergo Phase II human clinical trials.

Other notable researchers following Dr. Trucco to AGH include Alejandro Soto-Gutierrez, Rita Bottino, Yong Fan and Nick Giannoukakis.

“Massimo Trucco is widely respected and recognized around the world for leading studies that have provided critical new information about the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes and have pushed us ever closer to a cure for the highly prevalent and deadly disease,” said Tony Farah, AHN’s chief medical officer. “He and his team have contributed significantly to our region’s rich legacy of medical innovation, and we are thrilled to welcome them into our network as they continue their groundbreaking work.”

UPMC did not respond to requests for a reaction to Dr. Trucco and his team’s pending departure.?

Should NIH funding be approved in September, the clinical trials would involve 105 people, all 18 and older and with a recent diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

A native of Savona, Italy, with a medical degree from the University of Torina School of Medicine, Dr. Trucco was involved in the 1980s in research with transplant pioneer Thomas Starzl. He also did important work in regenerative medicine and immunology disease research. In addition, Dr. Trucco produced an improved typing process for matching bone marrow donors and recipients.

He has published 360 scientific papers throughout his career and has been cited in more than 12,000 scholarly articles.

“We believe breaking the immune cycle that causes type 1 diabetes could be the key to a cure,” Dr. Trucco said in an AHN news release. “Although more research needs to be done, that game-changing discovery is within our reach, and we are excited to move forward in its pursuit as part of Allegheny Health Network and the Allegheny Singer Research Institute.”

Dave Templeton: or 412-263-1578. First Published June 10, 2014 1:35 PM

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