Dr Kirstine Bell is an Accredited Practising Dietitian, Credentialled Diabetes Educator and NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow based at the Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney. She completed her PhD in mealtime insulin dosing for type 1 diabetes and is internationally recognised for her research in type 1 diabetes.
My passion for working in nutrition and diabetes began as an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Credentialled Diabetes Educator. I completed my PhD at the University of Sydney in 2014, investigating optimising mealtime insulin dosing for protein and fat using the Food Insulin Index in type 1 diabetes. Following my PhD, I was invited to take up post-doctoral research opportunities with Joslin Diabetes Center & Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA and then with the Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle. In 2017, I was awarded a prestigious NHMRC Early Career Research Fellowship and an Australian Diabetes Research Foundation grant and returned to the Charles Perkins Centre to set up a new type 1 diabetes research program.
SCREENING FOR TYPE 1 DIABETES
I am the Principal Research Fellow on the first ever Australian national screening program for type 1 diabetes in the general population. Funded by JDRF Australia and run from the Charles Perkins Centre, this project seeks to pilot the ideal approach to routine screening for all Australian children.
INSULIN DOSING FOR FAT & PROTEIN
Traditionally only carbohydrate is counted for mealtime insulin dosing in type 1 diabetes. My research, however, has shown that fat and protein also have significant impacts on blood glucose levels.
The iBolus project harnessed mathematical modelling to identify the optimal insulin dose adjustments for fat and protein, providing the crucial evidence for clinical guidelines and real world solutions for those living with type 1 diabetes.
GUT MICROBIOME & TYPE 1 DIABETES AUTOIMMUNITY
In a collaboration born from the JDRF Australia Future Leaders Program, the TOGeTher Trial (Type One Gut Therapy) trialled a specialised fibre supplement in adults with type 1 diabetes.
This specialised fibre was able to prevent 90% of cases of type 1 diabetes in mice by modulating the gut microbiota and immune system. The TOGeTher trial was the first step in translating these exciting findings to humans. If successful, a dietary fibre intervention could be a cheap, simple and accessible treatment for preventing type 1 diabetes.