Major grant awarded to UQDI diabetes researcher

29 Nov 2018

Senior Research Fellow and Director of Research Training Dr Emma Hamilton-Williams has received a $1.2 million ($US900,000) grant from JDRF International (formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).

Dr Hamilton-Williams said the grant would support a study commencing in 2019 to investigate the relationship between gut bacteria, viruses and inflammation in the pancreas which may lead to type 1 diabetes. 

Dr Emma Hamilton-Williams
Dr Emma Hamilton-Williams

“The incidence of type 1 diabetes has steadily increased over the past several decades, however we still do not understand what triggers the disease,” Dr Hamilton-Williams said.

“We hope the findings of this project will lead to better ways to predict who will develop the disease, and provide evidence as to whether bacteria and viruses play a role in causing disease.”

The study will use fecal samples from individuals with or at risk of developing type 1 diabetes, obtained before and after disease has started.

Using state-of-the-art analyses, researchers hope to unravel how genes and proteins derived from the gut, pancreas, gut microbiota and viruses are interconnected.

Understanding this relationship will enable changes occurring within the pancreas, which may be linked to disease progression to be measured over time.

“This may lead to new strategies to target gut bacteria and viruses for future clinical trials aimed at ultimately preventing type 1 diabetes,” she said.

Dr Hamilton-Williams set up her own laboratory at UQ’s Diamantina Institute (UQDI) in 2012, after completing her PhD at The Australian National University (ANU), Canberra.

She undertook postdoctoral training in Germany and the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, and was awarded a Career Development Award from JDRF in 2013.

Media: UQ Medicine media,, 3365 5133.