Human Islet Isolation: Open Technical Discussion

About the Webinar

VitaCyte’s last webinar of this year will focus on discussing technical issues associated with isolating human islets from research pancreata, donor pancreata used as a source of islets for subsequent islet allotransplantation, or pancreata recovered from chronic pancreatitis patients where islet isolation is performed as part of a total pancreatectomy-islet autotransplant procedure.

The webinar will use the Zoom meeting platform and not the webinar platform. This will enable direct communication between the meeting participants. The total number of participants at this meeting will be limited to 100 individuals.

The speakers from the earlier webinars will also participate in the meeting, allowing you to ask any questions from earlier VitaCyte webinars. In addition, Doug O’Gorman, a Senior Islet Specialist from the University of Alberta in Edmonton will also participate in the webinar.

Balamurugan Appakalai and Doug will share Q&As from their areas of interest below on this registration page before the meeting. These Q&As were used in a networking session sponsored by VitaCyte at the last virtual IPITA meeting held on October 21, 2021. If you have something to add to the webinar discussion, you are encouraged to submit your own Q&As before the meeting. The content should be similar to the Q&As presented below by Bala & Doug. Send the Q&As to Bob McCarthy at on or before Monday, November 29, 2021 and we will update the Q&A Handout below.

If you have any questions to discuss at the Q&A session, please send them to Bob McCarthy at or you can ask them during the session.

Q&A Handout

Webinar Survey

Previous Presenters

Robert McCarthy

Bob McCarthy received post-graduate training in immunology and joined Boehringer Mannheim Biochemicals in Indianapolis in 1987. In 1992, he led the R&D team that developed the Liberase HI Purified Enzyme Blend product to improve human islet recovery. In 2004, Francis Dwulet and Bob co-founded VitaCyte to improve the manufacture and characterization of collagenase and protease enzymes used for cell isolation. VitaCyte’s mission is to develop products that result in increased research productivity or improved cell therapy outcomes.

Balamurugan N. Appakalai, PhD
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Dr. Balamurugan has extensive experience in processing pancreases for auto- and allo-clinical islet transplantation and xeno-transplantation. As an “isletologist” for the past 27 years, his research focused on improving the manufacture of pancreatic islet products for clinical transplantation. His contributions showing the impact of the dose of different enzyme formulations on islet yields provided new insights that will likely improve human islet yield and function. Recently, he also has working to improve islet microcirculation by stimulating intra-islet endothelial cells and studying the cross talk between endothelial cells and beta cells. He has published more than 200 research articles, including book chapters, and serves on several journal editorial review boards. 

Gopalakrishnan Loganathan, Ph.D.​​​​​​​​​​​
​​University of Louisville

I have more than ten years of basic and translational research experience, focusing on mammalian islet isolation and transplantation. In 2007, I joined the islet isolation group at the Schulze Diabetes Institute at the University of Minnesota (UMN). I later worked at the University of Louisville and Koligo Therapeutics to isolate human islets. I have actively participated in or performed more than 500 human islet isolation procedures for clinical auto- or allo- islet transplantations. At UMN, I also performed porcine and non-human primate islet isolations for preclinical research. Since 2011, I was the primary or co-author of 26 publications focused on using mammalian islets for research or clinical applications.

Joshua Sakon, Ph.D.
University of Arkansas

Joshua Sakon, Ph.D. is a Professor at University of Arkansas. His curiosity in crystallography and enzymology has resulted in 15 patents, which several have been company licensed, and over 90 articles published. His involvement in industry has led him to be a founder of two companies, BiologicsMD LLC (VC funded) and S3 Biologics LLC (launched in 2021).  Joshua is active in both local community events and international research organizations, including Advances in Mineral Metabolism. He is an avid runner and has run the Boston Marathon in two hours and thirty-six minutes.

Dan Tremmel
University of Wisconsin

I am a graduate student working in the lab of Dr. Jon Odorico in the Department of Surgery at the University of Wisconsin. My research focus is to define the matrisome of the human pancreas throughout development to better understand the role that extracellular matrix (ECM) plays in islet health and function. We collaborate with Dr. Lingjun Li’s lab at UW to use novel mass spectrometry techniques for in-depth characterization of the pancreas and islet matrisome. I have also developed a decellularization protocol to isolate the ECM from human pancreas and reconstitute it as a hydrogel for use in cell culture and transplantation studies. We believe that a better understanding of the islet ECM will facilitate improved islet isolation, culture and transplantation technologies.

Doug O’Gorman
University of Alberta

Doug started as a lab technician with the Clinical Islet Laboratory in 2001 and since 2007 has served as the Senior Islet Specialist for the program. Overseeing one of the busiest islet isolation programs in the world, Doug and his team of 12 islet specialists routinely perform between 80 – 100 clinical allogeneic islet isolations and 5-10 autologous islet isolations per year.