Melissa L. Brown, PhD, RD
  • Melissa L. Brown, PhD, RD

    Research Scientist, Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute

    Instructor, Nutrition, University of Massachusetts Amherst

    Instructor, Nutrition, Rosalind Franklin University of the Medical Sciences

  • Education

    BA, Nutrition, University of Massachusetts Amherst

    MS, Nutrition, Rush University

    PhD, Nutrition, University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Postdoctoral Experience

    Pancreatic Islet Transplantation, Department of Surgery, University of Massachusetts Medical Center

  • Contact Information

    Melissa L. Brown, PhD, RD

    3601 Main Street

    Springfield, MA 01199

    Phone: 413.794.0899

    Fax: 413.794.0857


Research Interests: Pancreatic Islet Transplantation, Diabetes, Nutrition

Millions of diabetics suffer an extremely poor quality of life due to complications of their disease. The challenge is in finding a cure. Progress is being made, with many routine and experimental treatment options available. One promising experimental approach is pancreatic islet cell transplantation. Islet cells are the cells in the pancreas that regulate blood sugar levels by secreting insulin. Type I diabetics lack this mechanism due to destruction of their innate islet cells by an autoimmune response. Islet transplantation involves the removal of healthy islet cells from a deceased donor for transplantation into a diabetic recipient with the goal of providing the required insulin response to control blood sugar.

There are still many obstacles to overcome before this procedure can become routine. Some areas of investigation include eliminating the need for immunosuppression, beta islet cell expansion/proliferation in vivo and in vitro, improvement of long-term islet cell culture, enhancement of islet engraftment post-transplantation and improved perioperative islet transplantation protocols to extend the long-term success of the procedure. With potential demand greatly exceeding the supply of available donor tissue, beta islet cell expansion and alternative sources of creating insulin-producing cells are critical areas of research.

Current activities in my lab are concentrated on these areas, with particular focus on protecting islet cells after transplantation, enhancing the insulin secretory capabilities of isolated islets, and investigating methodologies to stimulate expansion and proliferation of beta islet cells in culture and in vivo.

Research Clusters

Center for Endocrine and Metabolic Research

Selected Papers

Brown ML, Kimura F, Bonomi L, Ungerleider N, Schneyer A. Myostatin enhances insulin secretion from rats but not mouse islets: species specific expression and action of TGFbeta superfamily ligands. Journal of Endocrinology. Revised manuscript submitted (2011).

Brown ML, Bonomi L, Ungerleider N, Zina J, Kimura F, Mukherjee A, Sidis Y, Schneyer A. Follistatin and Follistatin Like 3 Differentially Regulate Adiposity and Glucose Homeostasis. [published online ahead of print May 5, 2011]. Obesity.

Schneyer A, Brown ML. Altered Glucose Homeostasis Resulting From Developmental Exposures To Endocrine Disruptors. In: Diamanti-Kandarakis D, Gore AC, eds. Endocrine Disruptors and Puberty. New York, Springer/Humana, In press.

Morini S, Elias G, Brown ML, Subbotin V, Rastellini C, Cicalese L. Chronic morpho-functional damage as a consequence of transient ischemia/reperfusion injury of the small bowel. Histol Histopathol. 2010;25(3):277-86.

Brown ML, Schneyer A. Emerging roles for TGFb superfamily in beta-cell homeostasis. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2010;21(7):441-448.

Rastellini C, Brown ML, Cicalese L. Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia following pancreatectomy and islet auto-transplantation. Clinical Transplantation. 2006;20:156-158.

Brown ML, Braun M, Cicalese L, Rastellini C. Effect of perioperative antioxidant therapy on suboptimal islet transplantation in rats. Transplantation Proceedings. 2005;37(1):217-219.

Brown ML, Braun M, Mercado P, Cicalese L, Benedetti E, Rastellini C. Pyruvate improves pancreatic islet engraftment and functionality. Transplantation Proceedings. 2001;33(7-8):3523.

Professional Highlights

2002 Sigma Xi Research Forum Award, 1st Place, University of Illinois at Chicago

1999 Sivitri Kamath Award for Academic Excellence in Nutrition, University of Illinois at Chicago

1994 Helen S. Mitchell Scholarship for Academic Excellence in Nutrition, University of Massachusetts Amherst