Erica Graham

Research Interests

The human glucose-insulin regulatory system is a finely tuned machine. Our cells use glucose for energy purposes, mostly obtained from external sources such as food. In the body's normal state, the endocrine pancreas is largely responsible for maintaining blood glucose levels within a small, tightly regulated, range. In particular, pancreatic β cells are the only cells in the body that produce insulin, the most potent inhibitor of glucose.

Diabetes Mellitus is characterized by elevated blood glucose levels. There are two major categories of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. These are distinguised by their contrasting pathologies. Type 1 diabetes typically occurs early in life and results from the immune-mediated death of β cells leading to severe insulin deficiency.

Individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D)—the most common form of diabetes—are usually diagnosed later in life and experience elevated glucose levels resulting from some combination of genetics and environment. Also prevalent within most, but not all, type 2 diabetics are (1) a reduction in cells' response to insulin, which decreases the amount of glucose taken out of the bloodstream, and (2) a relative, but not absolute, insulin deficiency brought on by β-cell failure. I am interested in how mathematical modeling can explain the development and progression of these physiological factors on the road to a T2D diagnosis.