Ricardo Pastori, Ph.D. is Research Professor of Medicine, Immunology, and Microbiology and the Director of the Molecular Biology Laboratory at the Diabetes Research Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Pastori’s research program focuses on function and inflammatory responses in the context of pancreatic islet transplantation and advancement in treatment of type 1 diabetes. He and his colleagues have developed novel molecular tools and applied them to study pancreatic β-cell biology, particularly concentrating effort on the development and utilization of protein transduction technology, that is based on small cell penetrating peptides, or protein transduction domains (PTDs), to deliver proteins into islet cells, thus avoiding genetic modifications occurring in gene therapy. In addition, Dr. Pastori's team have generated and characterized numerous PTD recombinant proteins bearing cytoprotective properties to improve islet performance and survival as well as studying microRNAs, the small non-coding RNA molecules that regulate mRNA and thus gene expression.
Dr. Pastori characterized the expression profiles of microRNAs in human islet cells as well as in human pancreatic development. He is collaborating with the DRI Immunogenetics Program to identify novel microRNA biomarkers for prediction of type 1 diabetes as well as the DRI's Pancreastic Stem Cell Development program to develop strategies to reprogram human non-endocrine pancreatic tissue into insulin producing cells to be used as surrogate β-cells in diabetes therapies.