Almost a decade ago, University of Oregon (UO) graduate student Jennifer Hampton Hill made a fortuitous find: a protein made by gut bacteria that triggered insulin-producing cells to replicate. The protein was an important clue to the biological basis for Type 1 diabetes, an auto-immune disease in which the pancreas can’t make insulin. Dr. Hill has continued researching this protein, called BefA, as a postdoc at the University of Utah. And Karen Guillemin’s lab at UO has kept studying BefA, also. Alongside other colleagues, they’ve now uncovered new insights into what BefA does and why bacteria make it.
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