nPOD Welcome

Welcome to the 13th Annual JDRF nPOD Scientific Meeting!

We are thankful that you made it a priority to join us at this meeting and for what you have done to make nPOD a success. From some 20 attendees at our first meeting to over 300 registered attendees for our first-ever virtual scientific session this year, nPOD’s Annual Meeting has seen tremendous growth.

The nPOD team has assembled a scientific program that is as inclusive as possible, allowing all of us to share our collective progress and discoveries. In this setting, we would like to acknowledge the critical contributions of JDRF staff, the nPOD SAB, nPOD Investigators, and the working groups who together, make nPOD what it is. With their guidance and collective input and participation, nPOD is bound to realize its full potential.

We would also like to acknowledge the gracious financial support provided to this meeting by the JDRF, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, KRONUS, Inc., and Repertoire Immune Medicine. JDRF has been there from the beginning, providing financial support and, equally important, intellectual partnership with nPOD. The Helmsley Charitable Trust has also been a key funder for nPOD by supporting the meeting nPOD research through the award of the George S. Eisenbarth nPOD Award for Team Science, which is used to fund nPOD investigators and collaborative nPOD working groups focused on the study of tissues from donors with type 1 diabetes.

This year’s scientific webinar is packed with contentious sessions on T1D research and discovery. Considering this, the meeting will be shorter than usual and more directly focused on the presentation and discussion of nPOD research. Yet, we hope that the meeting format will continue to afford a great opportunity for scientific interaction. The meeting will use the Zoom Webinar platform, and it will be “LIVE” in its entirety. There are no pre-recorded portions (portions of the meeting will be recorded and made available for “on-demand” viewing).

You, the nPOD investigators, continue to publish in journals of high impact are occurring, and “standards” from nPOD related activities have been established. Most importantly, nPOD studies performed by you are changing our understanding of how type 1 diabetes develops. For that, we extend our thanks and know. We look forward to an exciting meeting.


JDRF Welcome

Thank you for participating in the Thirteenth Annual Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes (nPOD) Annual Scientific Meeting.

JDRF has a long history of bringing together investigators worldwide to share data and ideas and chart pathways to advances in type 1 diabetes (T1D) research and development. Your participation in events that foster T1D research holds the potential to benefit millions of people across the globe, and we are very grateful for all of your excellent work. Whether this is your first time at the nPOD Meeting or your Thirteenth, you will find these days enlightening and meaningful as you continue our shared quest—a world without T1D.

It’s bittersweet for me not to be able join the meeting and be there with you. As a scientist, I would love to listen to your ideas, hear about new learnings, and discuss the gaps where JDRF can invest in moving the field forward. I know that you will share some of the latest advances and research projects as we race for cures for T1D. nPOD has played such a pivotal role in our understanding of the pathogenesis of human T1D. I can’t wait to hear a summary of the meeting.

I wish you a stimulating, gratifying and successful conference. May it lead to innovative strategies, improved understanding, new collaborations and partnerships, and transformative research.  Thank you for supporting our mission.


Aaron J. Kowalski, Ph.D.

Helmsley Welcome

On behalf of the Helmsley Charitable Trust, thank you for your ongoing commitment to understanding type 1 diabetes. Helmsley’s T1D Program aims to delay and prevent this burdensome and life-threatening disease, a goal that cannot be achieved without the forward-thinking research for which you and your fellow nPOD scientists are known.

For five years and counting, it has been humbling to watch $4.4 million in Helmsley funding, through the George S. Eisenbarth nPOD Award for Team Science, enable dedicated scientists within the nPOD community. The award supports the community’s collaborative infrastructure and research activities, including the nPOD Extra-Cellular Matrix Group, the Autoimmunity Group, and the Tissue Slice Group. The funding also offers pilot awards – 16 projects to date – to support individual investigators asking novel and risky questions. It is our hope that the sum of this ongoing support empowers the nPOD community to continue fulfilling its vision of collaborative, high-impact T1D research. Helmsley is also happy to have committed an additional $3.6 million to broadly support nPOD’s work.

We at Helmsley see ourselves as partners with you and the entire nPOD community. We also share a common philosophy that studies of human tissue will reveal new ways to prevent and treat a stubborn disease that affects millions. Thank you again for all that you do for those with type 1 diabetes.

We wish you a productive meeting and look forward to working with all of you.

Warmest regards,

History & Mission of nPOD

The Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes (nPOD) is a collaborative type 1 diabetes research project funded by JDRF. nPOD supports approved scientific Investigators by providing, without cost, rare and difficult to obtain tissues beneficial to their research. nPOD began as a feasibility pilot project in 2007, and as of February 2016, supports upwards of 170 type 1 diabetes-related scientific studies at institutions around the world. Approved Investigators can participate in the nPOD program, even if they do not have outside funding to support their scientific research. nPOD actively promotes data sharing, collaboration and team science approaches, and, as of 2015, can support approved projects through the Helmsley Charitable Trust George S. Eisenbarth nPOD Award for Team Science.

nPOD strives to maintain a network of procuring and characterizing, in a collaborative manner, pancreata and related tissues (spleen, lymph nodes, pancreatic lymph nodes, peripheral blood, thymus, bone marrow, skin) from cadaveric organ donors in the following donor groups:

  1. Type 1 diabetes – These donors are potentially the key to helping our scientific Investigators unlock the disease process in type 1 diabetes, and answer fundamental questions about the autoimmune process that leads to the destruction of the insulin producing pancreatic beta cells.
  2. Type 1 diabetes-related autoantibody positive, but no clinical symptoms of the disease – These donors will help scientists study the autoimmune process at the very earliest stages of beta cell destruction.
  3. History of pancreas transplant and type 1 diabetes – These donors improve our understanding of islet autoimmunity and its evolution, and how this may be related to poorly understood mechanisms of pancreas regeneration/remodeling, and how both autoimmunity and regeneration may be affected by chronic immunosuppression.
  4. Type 2 diabetes – These donors serve as a control for hyperglycemia and other disease processes relating to beta cell dysfunction, which are also be relevant to type 1 diabetes.
  5. Persons without diabetes – These donors serve as normal control type when compared to other donor sets.

Utilizing these high quality (i.e., transplant grade) tissues, Investigators work together to address key immunological, histological, viral, and metabolic questions and generate a comprehensive analysis of human type 1 diabetes, leading to a cure for the disease. nPOD works closely with Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) to recover organs and tissues of interest. Inclusion and exclusion criteria are updated as necessary, based on feedback from the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) and Investigator needs. The nPOD website ( provides additional information about the project and research efforts currently supported by nPOD, which are also listed in this booklet.

2021 Annual Meeting Highlights

The Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes (nPOD) welcomes you to the 13th Annual Scientific Meeting. Throughout the years, nPOD has promoted a collaborative environment and an interactive venue in its annual meeting. This year’s meeting will be a virtual scientific conference, and much like previous years, this year’s meeting aims at continuing that tradition, with emphasis on understanding type 1 diabetes. We hope participants will find this year’s virtual scientific session intellectually stimulating and rewarding.



The meeting will be shorter than usual and held over a 3-day period. Each day, the effective meeting time is about 4 hours. The meeting will typically have 2 main sessions daily, 90 minutes each, with a 30-minute break between the sessions. All sessions include a 30-minute discussion involving chairs, speakers, invited discussants, and you! Some exceptions to this format are described in the agenda.

Day 1 (2/22/2021)

  • T1D Pathology Studies Across Natural History
  • Panel Discussion on T1D Pathology Studies Across Natural History
  • Oral Abstract Presentations

Day 2 (2/23/2021)

  • Beta Cells in Type 1 Diabetes
  • Panel Discussion on Beta Cells in Type 1 Diabetes
  • COVID-19, Pancreas & Diabetes
  • Panel Discussion on COVID-19, Pancreas & Diabetes

Day 3 (2/24/2021)

  • A Special Presentation for Junior Investigators
  • nPOD and Industry Research
  • Panel Discussion on nPOD and Industry Research
  • T1D Immunology – TCR Studies
  • Panel Discussion on T1D Immunology – TCR Studies
  • Late-breaking Abstract Presentations

Poster Presentation Session

  • Abstracts selected for poster presentation will be showcased on the first and second day of the event. Poster presentations will occur concurrently from 3:00 – 4:00 PM.

For our Junior Investigators, a special session by Dr. Maggie Morris Fears (NIH Chief Scientific Review Officer) will be held on the morning of the last day (2/24/21). Be sure to catch her discussion on “NIH Peer Review: Guidance, questions, and answers”

We are delighted by the enthusiasm and willingness of many to present at the nPOD meeting. We received 52 abstracts, including 18 submitted as late-breaking. Given the reduced time available, 16 abstracts were selected for oral presentation during the main sessions.