Researcher Q&A – Dr Melkam Kebede, University of Sydney 19 October 2021 Why is diabetes research important? Diabetes research is important because there is still so much we do not about what causes diabetes and how we can prevent or treat it. Why did you get into diabetes research? Growing up I have seen several people around me with diabetes and I always wanted to know more about it and wanted to somehow do something to better the lives of those affected with the disease. How long have you been involved in diabetes research? I started working in diabetes research immediately after I finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Melbourne. I joined the laboratory of Professor Joseph Proietto and A/Professor Sof Andrikopulos as a Summer Scholarship student in 2001 and never looked back. What has been your greatest discovery or research to date? My group’s greatest discovery so far has been our recent demonstration that when pancreatic beta-cells are stimulated by glucose to release insulin, they specifically release newly produced insulin and leave old insulin behind. This information is critical because current therapies for diabetes do not discriminate the release of new or old insulin. Our findings could help fine-tune therapies for type 2 diabetes. What contribution would you like to make in the field of diabetes? My research program is challenging the conventional wisdom and leading to new possibilities that the key to better improving insulin secretion may rely on the quality, rather than quantity, of those secreted insulin. I hope these studies will lead to the development of novel and durable approaches which will expand therapeutic options to treat type 2 diabetes. Who has been the greatest influence in your career? The greatest influence or inspiration in my career have been the people with diabetes I meet and talk to through some of my community involvements. Their questions and encouragements are my constant source of inspiration to continue my part to help better understand what causes diabetes and how we can effectively treat it. They remind me the real-world impact of what I do. If you weren’t a researcher, what would you do? I think I would be a teacher. I like to learn new things and equally I like to share what I know with others.