Texas Children's Hospital expands focus on type 1 diabetes research with addition of two distinguished immunology researchers underwritten by The McNair Foundation


HOUSTON - (Nov. 5, 2013) - Texas Children's Hospital is expanding research efforts focused on type 1 diabetes with the addition of two distinguished immunology researchers, Drs. Matt Bettini and Maria Bettini, through the generous support of The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation. A husband and wife team, the Bettinis research is focused on the immune cells involved in destroying the pancreas in type 1 diabetes. As McNair Scholars, the Bettinis are recognized as future leaders in academic medicine. Along with their research activities, the Bettinis will serve as assistant professors of Pediatric Diabetes and Endocrinology at Baylor College of Medicine.

The Bettinis were both trained at St. Jude's Hospital under the guidance of Dr. Dario Vignali, one of the world's leading researchers of immune function. Both Bettinis have participated in basic and translational research that focuses on type 1 diabetes. Matt Bettini's expertise is in the class of cells that govern the strength of the autoimmune response and Maria Bettini's study has focused on the immune cells that are the "executioners" of the insulin secreting beta cells.

"Matt and Maria Bettini are rising stars in the study of the immunology of diabetes. Their impact on the field has already been profound and we are delighted that they will unfold the next stage of their careers at Texas Children's Hospital," said Dr. Jordan Orange, chief of Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology at Texas Children's Hospital and professor of Pediatrics, Pathology and Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine. "We are excited for the undeniable synergies in working with the Bettinis to accelerate our research of immune-mediated disease."

Matt Bettini earned his Ph.D. in immunology and molecular pathogenesis at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. He is not only a member of the Hartwell Foundation, but has also been awarded the Hartwell Fellowship Award, which has enabled him to pursue further specialized training. Matt Bettini has authored several articles for research publications including Immunity and The Journal of Immunology.

Maria Bettini also earned her Ph.D. in immunology and molecular pathogenesis at Emory University She completed additional postdoctoral fellowship at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN where she was awarded academic and professional honors, including training grants for her outstanding research. Maria Bettini has published articles in major scientific journals such as Immunity, Diabetes and The Journal of Immunology.

"Matt and Maria are two of the smartest, nicest and most dedicated young scientists I've ever met. They have a sincere joy for discovery, as well as a collaborative spirit. Their presence will invigorate the type 1 diabetes research community here at Texas Children's and we're all looking forward to working with them," said Dr. Jake Kushner, chief of service at Texas Children's Diabetes and Endocrinology Center and chief of Pediatric Diabetes and Endocrinology at Baylor College of Medicine.

The Texas Children's Department of Pediatrics, Section of Pediatric Diabetes Endocrinology is a leader in the research and treatment of children with diabetes and endocrine disorders. With research and the miracles of modern medicine, the department has provided patients with new diagnostic tools and innovative therapies. The department's overarching goal is to help children with diabetes and other endocrine disorders live long healthy lives.

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Center for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, a second community hospital planned to open in 2017. The organization also created the nation’s first HMO for children, has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.