nPOD: Developing a tissue Biobank for T1D

The Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes (nPOD) was established to recover and characterize pancreata and related organs from deceased organ donors with various risk levels for T1D. Organ donors include T1D patients (new-onset to long-term), non-diabetic but autoantibody positive subjects, non-diabetic controls, and individuals with disorders relevant to beta-cell function. Pancreas recovery and transport have met transplant-grade criteria. Additional samples recovered included serum, whole blood, spleen, and pancreatic and non-pancreatic lymph nodes. T1D autoantibodies, c-peptide levels, and high-resolution genotyping for T1D risk were also determined. Over 160 donors have been enrolled (ages of 1 day to > 90 years). Standard procedures have been established along with a quality management system. Donor demographics, laboratory assays, and histopathological characterizations are shared through an open online information system. Biospecimens have been distributed to more than 60 investigators. The nPOD program has established itself as a superior biorepository with several unique features. 1) It provides access to high quality biospecimens without cost to investigators, 2) Collaborations and open data sharing are emphasized and recognized to maximize research potential of each donor, 3) It maintains a highly interactive and continuously updated website and offers valuable webinars, and 4) It is currently providing specimens to investigators in four continents. Amongst the many significant observations emanating from nPOD, initial analyses highlight the diversity of histopathology of T1D and the paucity of insulitis in humans contrasts with its remarkable severity in mouse models of T1D. Researchers are being encouraged, and aided by access to rare biospecimens, to add studies of human tissues alongside of those of animal models for the disease.


Campbell-Thompson M, Wasserfall C, Kaddis J, Albanese-O’Neill A, Staeva T, Nierras C, Moraski J, Rowe P, Gianani R, Eisenbarth G, Crawford J, Schatz D, Pugliese A, Atkinson M. Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2012 May 14. doi: 10.1002/dmrr.2316. [Epub ahead of print]

Investigators and Institutions:

This study was led by Dr. Martha Campbell-Thomas and Dr.Mark Atkinson at the University of Florida, Gainsville.

Ramifications for Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes:

nPOD is a valuable resource that allows researchers to address important questions regarding the disease process and natural progression of T1D directly from cells, tissue and sera obtained from deceased organ donors. Importantly, a better understanding of the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to T1D, as well as identifying their role in influencing the immune response underlying beta-cell destruction will offer a far clearer picture of human disease pathogenesis than has been known before, potentially opening new paths to prevent and cure this disease.

JDRF Involvement:

In 2007, JDRF established and solely funded nPOD for the purpose of obtaining tissues from deceased organ donors to address important questions regarding the pathogenesis and natural history of T1D. At this time, the infrastructure for nPOD is still solely supported by JDRF, but support for research programs using the nPOD materials come from the National Institutes of Health, JDRF, Brehm Coalition for Type 1 Diabetes Research, and Jeffrey Keene Family Professorship.