Bridget Wagner, Ph.D.
Director of Pancreatic Cell Biology and Metabolic Disease, Institute Scientist
Bridget Wagner is the director of pancreatic cell biology and metabolic disease in the Chemical Biology and Therapeutic Sciences Program at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she is also an institute scientist and a Merkin Institute Fellow. Her group's research focuses on the chemical biology of diabetes, with the aim of identifying small molecules capable of increasing pancreatic beta cell number and function and the ultimate goal of discovering new therapeutic approaches for 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. In type 2 diabetes, beta-cell function is impaired, which is thought to be due to beta-cell death and dedifferentiation. While cell-based treatments show promise, a chemical intervention capable of restoring glycemic control in diabetes would have enormous impact clinically, representing a truly disease-modifying approach. Wagner’s group develops 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, that induce glucose-dependent insulin secretion, 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 2008 Type 1 Diabetes Pathfinder Award from the NIH and a Transformative Research Award from the NIH in 2016.