Farzad Esni, PhD

Dr. Farzad Esni is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Surgery, Developmental Biology, and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh.

In 1994, Dr. Esni received his BSc in Molecular Biology from the University of Umea, Sweden. He then went on to earn a PhD in Developmental Biology from the University of Goteborg, Sweden, in 2000. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins University from 2001 to 2005 and later became an instructor there from 2005 to 2006. In 2006, he joined the University of Pittsburgh as an Assistant Professor. He has been an Associate Professor at Pitt since 2015.

Dr. Esni’s major research interests include pancreatic development and regeneration, pancreatic cancer, and β-cell generation.

In particular, his lab is interested in studying pancreatic cancer-induced diabetes. One of the ongoing aims of this study is to identify pancreatic cancer-mediated diabetogenic factors. The long-term goal of this project is the potential use of such factors as early detection biomarkers for pancreatic cancer.

The Esni Lab has identified a small molecule that converts pancreatic acinar cells into insulin-producing β-like cells. Notably, these acinar-derived insulin producing cells infiltrate the pre-existing endocrine islets and can normalize the blood glucose levels in both diabetic mice and non-human primates. The immediate goals of this study are to determine the effects of this compound in mouse models for type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The long-term goal of this project is to generate the required pre-clinical data and take this compound to a clinical trial for diabetes.

Dr. Esni was awarded the Hirshberg Award for Pancreatic Cancer in 2010 as well as the National Pancreatic Foundation Award in 2022. He is a member of the Society for Developmental Biology (SDB), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Pancreatic Association (APA), and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). He has served on the editorial boards of The Scientific World Journal and Scientific Reports and has been the guest lead editor for a special issue of Anatomy Research International on pancreatic development and diseases. He is also the Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator of multiple NIH grants.

View a list of Dr. Esni’s publications here.

Find the Esni Lab here.