For more than 40 years, the Schulze Diabetes Institute has pursued its dream to end the threat of type 1 diabetes. Today, we stand at the threshold of making a cure widely available.

In 1974, our specific path was forged when we developed the world’s first safe, effective and minimally invasive cure using islet transplantation. We’ve been passionate about refining this process and bringing it to the public ever since.

Due in large part to the protocols developed by the Schulze Diabetes Institute, human islet transplantation to reverse type 1 diabetes now matches the success rate of whole organ pancreas transplants. This was once considered impossible.

Today, our sole mission is to pioneer superior transplant therapeutics for people burdened with diabetes. No other facility in the world is better positioned to make this happen.


The Schulze Diabetes Institute is home to the world’s leading experts in islet cell isolation and transplantation. In fact, we developed the process.

Our team of more than 30 professionals is led by internationally renowned transplant surgeon Dr. David Sutherland and Dr. Bernhard Hering who is one of the world’s foremost experts on islet cell transplantation. 


No other facility in the U.S. has enrolled more patients in Clinical Islet Transplantation Consortium clinical trials than the Schulze Diabetes Institute.

We’ve completed 9 such clinical trials. Results clearly demonstrate that islet cell transplantation is effective. To date:

  • 90% of transplant recipients have become insulin-independent
  • 50% have remained insulin-independent for at least 5 years
  • 80% of recipients remain protected from hypoglycemia after 5 years

Today, we're one of only 9 facilities in the United States selected by the NIH to conduct Phase III clinical trials. This is the final round of study before the FDA will decide whether to approve the procedure as a standard therapy for type 1 diabetes.

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The University of Minnesota has been a leader in transplant medicine since the 1960s, pioneering and refining techniques, as well as training many of the transplant surgeons around the world today.

Our work in pancreas and islet cell transplantation, in particular, has a long history of success.


The University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic establish organ transplantation programs. Surgeons from both facilities perform kidney transplants.


University of Minnesota surgeons Richard C. Lillehei, M.D. and William D. Kelly, M.D. perform the world’s first pancreas transplant.


Drs. Lillehei and Kelly perform the world’s first simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplant.


University of Minnesota surgeons David Sutherland, M.D., Ph.D. and John Najarian, M.D. perform the first allo-islet cell transplant (from a deceased donor to a living recipient) to treat type 1 diabetes.


Drs. Sutherland and Najarian perform the world’s first auto-islet transplant (using the patient’s own cells) on a person with pancreatitis.


Dr. Sutherland performs the world’s first partial pancreas transplant from a living related donor.


Dr. Sutherland performs the first unrelated living-donor pancreas transplant. That same year, Sutherland and Paul Gores, M.D. conduct one of the world’s first clinical islet transplant trials using single donors of simultaneous kidney transplants.


Dr. Sutherland and Rainer Gruessner, M.D. perform the first combined segmental pancreas and kidney transplant from a living donor.


Bernhard Hering, M.D., a world leader in islet transplant therapy and xenotransplantation (transplants from one species to another), joined the University of Minnesota faculty


Dr. Gruessner, Dr. Sutherland and Raja Kandaswamy, M.D. perform the first simultaneous laparoscopic living donor pancreas-kidney transplant.


Dr. Hering and collaborators report in a JAMA article refinements of peritransplant management that achieve insulin independence in 8 of 8 consecutive single donor islet transplant recipients. 


Dr. Hering, Dr. Melanie Graham, and their team report in the journal Nature Medicine the first demonstration of prolonged diabetes reversal after transplantation of porcine islets across species barriers (also referred to as xenotransplantation), suggesting that porcine islets could have far-reaching implications as an unlimited donor source in cell transplantation for diabetes.


The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation provides a grant to put the Schulze Diabetes Institute on an accelerated path to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes.


The Schulze Diabetes Institute is selected by the National Institutes of Health as one of 8 sites to establish the Clinical Islet Transplantation (CIT) Consortium.


The University of Minnesota transplants human allo-islets into its 100th recipient with type 1 diabetes.


The University of Minnesota completes its 600th total pancreatectomy and islet auto-transplant for the treatment of chronic pancreatitis


Dr. Hering is the lead author on a paper documenting the clinical outcomes of the first Phase III clinical trial of transplantation of pancreatic islets. The demonstration of efficacy and safety of islet transplantation in a Phase III clinical trial generated substantial momentum in subsequent years for the development of stem cell-derived islet products and immune tolerance protocols.

Sabarinathan Ramachandran, Ph.D., joins the Schulze Diabetes Institute to develop approaches aimed at establishing immune tolerance to allo- and xeno-islet transplants.


With University support, the Schulze Diabetes Institute moves to newly renovated state-of-the-art laboratories in Moos Tower.


The Schulze Diabetes Institute report in the journal Nature Communications long-term (> 1 year) survival of transplanted islets without the continuous use of anti-rejection drugs.
These results, which indicate the achievement of transplantation tolerance, were achieved in a stringent preclinical islet transplant setting, one step away from humans.

Amar Singh, Ph.D., is promoted to a faculty position as an Assistant Professor at the Schulze Diabetes Institute as an immunologist with a focus on T and B cell immunity, immune monitoring techniques and transplant tolerance.


The University of Minnesota completes its 2400th total pancreatectomy and islet auto-transplant for the treatment of chronic pancreatitis.


In collaboration with investigators from the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota and Emory University, the Schulze Diabetes Institute is awarded a 5-year NIH U19 grant to evaluate and advance treatment regimens to achieve immunosuppression-free kidney transplant survival (transplant tolerance) in preclinical studies.


Our Mission

Through pioneering islet transplantation treatments and ongoing research efforts, our goal is to enable people to live diabetes-free lives.

Islet Research and Transplantation

For Dr. Christopher Burlak, islet research is personal. He's working towards a cure for his son, Jack.

On the Cusp of a Cure

The Schulze Diabetes Institute hopes its research will help people with type 1 diabetes achieve insulin independence. A donation from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation is putting researchers closer to this goal.

Institute Announcement

Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation announces the $40 million pledge that funds the Schulze Diabetes Institute.

About the Institute

Researchers in the University of Minnesota’s Schulze Diabetes Institute are driven to reverse Type 1 Diabetes. Through pioneering islet transplantation treatments and ongoing research efforts, our goal is to enable people to live diabetes-free lives.

Save Research to Save Lives

Ann Strader is from Lakeville, MN. She is mother to two boys with type 1 diabetes. Join her call to Save Research to Save Lives.

Biomedical Discovery District

The Biomedical Discovery District is critical to the University's research in the health sciences and to our goal of preventing and finding treatments and cures to diabetes, infectious disease, neurological conditions, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Islet transplantation

The success of islet transplantation as a treatment for those with type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes is told through patient testimonials.

Research for a Cure

Today, the Schulze Diabetes Institute is nearing completion of a clinical trial that may make human islet transplantation widely available.


More than 16 million Americans have diabetes. The Schulze Diabetes Institute is driven to discover the cures that will cut that number substantially.