Bridget Wagner is the director of pancreatic cell biology and metabolic disease in the Chemical Biology Program at the Broad Institute. Her group's research focuses on identifying small molecules capable of increasing pancreatic beta cell number and function, with the ultimate goal of treating type 1 diabetes.
Beta cell death, and the consequent deficiency in insulin secretion, is a key feature of type 1 diabetes. For decades, the standard of care for this disease has been insulin therapy by intramuscular injection. Current approaches to develop new treatments have prioritized islet transplantation and directed stem cell differentiation, while many technological advances have focused on glucose detection and insulin delivery. While cell-based treatments show promise, a chemical intervention capable of restoring glycemic control in type 1 diabetes would have enormous impact clinically, by enabling an in vivo pancreatic effect while avoiding the need for immunosuppression. Wagner’s group is developing phenotypic cell-based assays to find compounds that increase human beta cell proliferation, that can protect beta cells from the inflammatory processes of diabetes progression, or that can induce other cells in the pancreas to take over the role of beta cells by producing insulin themselves.
Wagner received an A.B. from Harvard College and her Ph.D. from the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University, working with Stuart Schreiber on developing probe-discovery efforts in an academic setting. Wagner has had an instrumental role in the development of the Broad Chemical Biology Program from its inception in 2003. She is a recipient of the Type 1 Diabetes Pathfinder Award from the NIH.