BIDMC’s John N. Campbell receives ADA Pathway Initiator Award

BIDMC’s John N. Campbell, PhD, Awarded American Diabetes Association 2018 Pathway to Stop Diabetes® Research Grant. Campbell is one of six awardees to each receive up to $1.625 million grants to support innovative diabetes research.

BOSTON – Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center researcher John Nelson Campbell, PhD is one of six recipients of the 2018 Pathway to Stop Diabetes (Pathway) grants awarded by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Campbell received a $1.625 million Pathway Initiator Award for his basic research project titled, “Molecular and Functional Taxonomy of Vagal Motor Neurons,” which seeks to identify the precise brain cells governing hunger, digestion and glucose metabolism.

“I am incredibly honored and excited to be part of the next generation of ADA Pathway scientists,” said Campbell, who is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Bradford B. Lowell, MD, PhD. “With the support of this ADA Pathway award, we’ll be able to greatly advance our understanding of how the brain controls digestion and glucose metabolism, areas of keen interest to diabetes medicine. I cannot imagine a better start to this research program, or to my career as a neuroscientist.”

“It is a huge honor,” said Lowell, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). “These grants are incredibly competitive and hard to get.”

As part of his project, Campbell and his colleagues are working to generate what they call a “parts list for the brain.” That is, they seek to catalog the different cell types and neuron subtypes that make up the brain, study how these parts differ from one another and how they connect to control behavior and physiology. Campbell’s project focuses on region of the brain called the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV), a region that connects the brain to visceral organs including the stomach and pancreas via the vagus nerve and controls digestion and glucose metabolism.

“Previous studies suggest that neurons in the DMV are organized into functional units which innervate different organs and play distinct roles in organ physiology,” Campbell explained. “And yet, there’s been no way to identify and specifically access these functional units in order to learn more about them. With the support of the ADA Pathway to Stop Diabetes award, our study aims to shed light on how this important brain-body interface works and potentially reveal new molecular targets for treating diabetes and diabetic gastroparesis.”“Supporting visionary scientists and groundbreaking research is at the core of ADA’s mission—to improve the lives of all people living with and affected by diabetes,” said the ADA’s Chief Scientific, Medical and Mission Officer William T. Cefalu, MD. “Through this collaborative effort, we are able to provide a critical combination of expert counsel and financial support to scientists on the complex journey of discovery necessary to advance diabetes treatment and find a cure.”

Now in its fifth year, the Pathway to Stop Diabetes research grants awards a total of $9.75 million to six scientists over a five- to seven-year grant term to spur breakthroughs in fundamental diabetes science, technology, diabetes care and potential cures. Since its launch in 2013, Pathway has awarded more than $47 million to 29 leading scientists selected from a highly competitive applicant pool of only one nominee per institution.

Notable scientific contributions by previous Pathway awardees include efforts to develop a disposable continuous glucose monitoring patch, identification of links between sense of smell and body weight, and advancements to optimize a novel drug delivery approach to enhance wound healing—and reduce amputations—in diabetes.

“We are thrilled to welcome the six newest recipients of Pathway awards into this elite group of researchers who continue to make extraordinary contributions to diabetes care. This unique funding model creates unmatched opportunities for scientists to impact the lives of millions of people living with or at risk for diabetes,” said Silvia Corvera, MD, chair of the ADA’s Mentor Advisory Group and professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts.

About Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School and consistently ranks as a national leader among independent hospitals in National Institutes of Health funding.

BIDMC is in the community with Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth, Anna Jaques Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, Lawrence General Hospital, MetroWest Medical Center, Signature Healthcare, Beth Israel Deaconess HealthCare, Community Care Alliance and Atrius Health. BIDMC is also clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and Hebrew Rehabilitation Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center and the Jackson Laboratory. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit