Public Release: 

BU researcher receives grant to study role immune cells play in type 2 diabetes

Boston University Medical Center

(Boston)--Barbara Nikolajczyk, PhD, associate professor of microbiology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), has received a five-year, $2.95 million grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).

Nikolajczyk's research focuses on immuno-metabolism, or the role the immune system plays in obesity and obesity-associated complications like type 2 diabetes.Type 2 diabetes makes people more likely to have problems with oral health and has been shown to promote periodontal disease. In turn, periodontal disease appears to exacerbate type 2 diabetes. Immune cells are known to be the major source of inflammation that promotes both type 2 diabetes and periodontal complications of the disease.

The grant will help fund a series of studies to determine the role various immune system cells and molecules play in the pathogenic relationship between type 2 diabetes and periodontal disease. It is hoped that this analysis may one day soon lead to treatments that improve type 2 diabetes while at the same time improving oral health.

Nikolajczyk published the first definitive analyses showing B cells uniquely support periodontal disease in type 2 diabetes. This work includes a molecular understanding of mechanisms responsible for pro-inflammatory lymphocyte functions in these patients.


The mission of the NIDCR is to improve oral, dental, and craniofacial health through research, research training and the dissemination of health information.

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