22161-Mastracci, Teresa

Teresa Mastracci, PhD

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Department of Biology
723 W. Michigan St., SL306

Indianapolis, IN 46202


Teresa Mastracci, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at IUPUI, and adjunct Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at Indiana University School of Medicine. 

Mastracci completed her post-secondary education in Canada, earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Guelph, and her PhD from the University of Toronto at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute. Mastracci moved on to postdoctoral studies at Columbia University and the Naomi Berrie Center for Diabetes Research in New York. Here she merged her interests in developmental biology and human disease by studying how the pancreatic insulin-producing beta cell develops and functions in the normal and diabetic context. In 2007, Mastracci was named the Naomi Berrie Fellow in Diabetes Research and was granted research support by the Russell Berrie Foundation. Subsequently in 2010, she was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which continued to support her career development and research. Together these fellowships were instrumental in launching Mastracci’s career in the field of diabetes research, and as a result she was recruited to Indiana University School of Medicine. She has subsequently been awarded a prestigious Career Development Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as well as an NIH R01 grant, which will continue to grow her research program.

In 2017 Mastracci was named one of the top Ten Under 40 up & coming stars in Biopharma Research and Business by Genetic Engineering News and was recognized as one of the Indianapolis Business Journal’s Forty Under 40.

Titles & Appointments

  • Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Biology
  • Education
    2006 PhD University of Toronto
    1999 BSC University of Guelph
  • Research

    Diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by the destruction or dysfunction of the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells. My lab studies the mechanisms that regulate pancreas development with the idea that this will shed light on the key steps necessary to regenerate the beta cells lost in individuals with diabetes. In short, my lab uses animal models (mouse and zebrafish) and human donor tissue to understand what instructs cell growth and how these processes go wrong in disease.

    Significant research in the field has focused on transcription as the mechanism driving pancreatic and beta cell development. Our discovery that polyamine and hypusine biosynthesis instructs pancreatic cell development expanded this view, as this finding showed that mRNA translation may also play a fundamental role in regulating cell growth. The polyamine and hypusine biosynthesis pathway has a distinct relationship with the process of mRNA translation. Specifically, eukaryotic initiation factor 5A (eIF5A) is the only known protein to contain the unique polyamine-derived amino acid hypusine (hydroxyputrescine lysine). The hypusinated form of eIF5A (eIF5AHyp) is generated through a multi-step reaction, which is initiated by the rate-limiting enzyme deoxyhypusine synthase (DHPS) and uses the polyamine spermidine as a cofactor to modify the lysine at position 50 of eIF5A. eIF5AHyp binds the ribosome and functions during mRNA translation to promote the elongation of a largely undefined subset of transcripts. Our work suggests that eIF5AHyp is required to instruct cell growth and differentiation in the pancreas. Ongoing studies in my lab are further interrogating this pathway to understand its role in pancreas development and diabetes pathogenesis.

    In parallel with our analyses of hypusine biosynthesis in the pancreas, my lab is studying the impact of human DHPS mutations on clinical outcome. Our collaborative study, published in 2019, was the first description of DHPS Deficiency, a new human monogenic disease associated with impaired hypusine biosynthesis. Due to this discovery, my lab is investigating how human DHPS mutations drive altered growth and disease.

  • Awards
    Org: Indianapolis Business Journal
    Desc: Top 40 Under 40
    Scope: State
    Date: 2017-01-01
    Org: Genetic Engineering News
    Desc: Top 10 Under 40 in Biopharma Research and Business
    Scope: National
    Date: 2017-01-01
    Org: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)
    Desc: Career Development Award
    Scope: International
    Date: 2016-08-01
    Org: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)
    Desc: Postdoctoral Fellowship
    Scope: International
    Date: 2010-02-01
    Org: Russell Berrie Foundation
    Desc: Naomi Berrie Fellowship in Diabetes Research
    Scope: National
    Date: 2007-11-01

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