Title and Department
Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism
Professional bio

Dr. Gannon received her B.S. in biology from Molloy College and her M.S. in biology from Adelphi University, both on Long Island. Her thesis work was conducted in Dr. David Bader’s lab at Cornell University, where she received her Ph.D. in cell biology and anatomy in 1995. Dr. Gannon pursued postdoctoral training in Dr. Chris Wright’s laboratory at Vanderbilt University, studying the role of the Pdx1 and HNF6 transcription factors in pancreas development. She is currently Associate Dean for Faculty Development at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Nutrition. Dr. Gannon is also the 2017–2018 chair of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) science session planning committee. She was elected an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellow in 2015, and she has received funding from JDRF, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), ADA, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).


The pancreas is essential for normal digestion and maintenance of blood sugar levels. We study the role of genes and signaling pathways involved in the development and function of specific cell types within the pancreas. The Oc1/HNF6 transcription factor is expressed in all pancreas cells early in embryonic development, but is turned off in islet cells just before birth in the mouse. We developed mice in which Oc1 is over-expressed or can be inactivated conditionally. These studies reveal that Oc1 is essential to generate the appropriate number of endocrine progenitor cells, but that it must get turned off in order for the insulin-producing cells to function properly. Current studies are examining how Oc1 interacts with other factors in the embryonic pancreas to regulate endocrine differentiation. Our studies also revealed that Oc1 is essential for normal growth and branching of the pancreatic ductal epithelium. In the absence of Oc1, pancreatic duct differentiation is impaired and the mice develop pancreatitis. A second project in the lab examines the role of CTGF, a secreted factor known to modulate growth factor signaling and affect cell proliferation and migration in other organ systems. We found that loss of CTGF results in decreased embryonic islet beta cell proliferation and defective islet formation. We are using conditional gene inactivation and over-expression strategies to determine how CTGF affects islet development and function during embryogenesis and after transplantation. In addition, we we have shown that CTGF can enhance beta cell regeneration in adults after significant beta cell destruction. The mechanisms of CTGF action are being examined. Finally, the FoxM1 transcription factor is highly expressed in proliferating cells and is essential for normal cell division. We generated mice specifically lacking FoxM1 in the pancreas. In these mice, the number of insulin-producing cells fails to increase with body mass, resulting in diabetes. Significantly, we found that FoxM1 is required downstream of all proliferative stimuli in the insulin-producing beta cells. For example, the number of maternal beta cells expands via mitosis during pregnancy. In FoxM1 mutants, this increase in mitosis does not occur and the animals develop gestational diabetes. We have also shown that FoxM1 induction can rejuvenate older beta cells to become more proliferative, expanding beta cell mass in aged mice. Current studies are aimed at characterizing the signaling pathways that activate FoxM1 expression and activity as well as identifying target genes of FoxM1 in the insulin-producing cells.

Positions Held:

2001-2008, Assistant Professor, Departments of Medicine (Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, & Metabolsim) and Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

2007-2008, Assistant Professor, Department of Cell & Developmental Biology

2008-2016, Associate Professor, Departments of Medicine (Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, & Metabolsim) and Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, Department of Cell & Developmental Biology

2011-present, Vice Chair for Faculty Development, Department of Medicine 

2016-present, Professor, Departments of Medicine (Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, & Metabolsim) and Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, Department of Cell & Developmental Biology


1996-2001, Postdoctoral fellow, Vanderbilt University, Dept. of Cell Biology, Nashville, TN
1995-1996, Postdoctoral fellow, Cornell University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Dept. of Pharmacology, New York, NY
1992, Embryology: Cell Differentiation and Gene Expression in Early Development Course, Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory
1988-1990, Laboratory Technician, Cornell University Medical College, Dept. of Pharmacology

Grant Support


NIH/NIDDK R01 Oct 2019 - Sept 2023; Manipulating islet GPCR activity to promote beta cell proliferation and survival

VETERANS ADMINISTRATION MERIT AWARD Sept 2021 - Aug 2025; "Modulating prostaglandin E2 receptor activity  to improve pancreatic islet function

NIH/NIDDK R01  Oct 2021 - Sept 2026; "Metformin in pregnancy:  Fetal consequences and long-term offspring outcomes in a NHP model


NIH/NIDDK R24 Co-Investigator. Aug 2015 - July 2020; "Interrupting the Vicious Cycle of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome"

NIH/NIDDK R01 Co-Principal Investigator. December 22, 2015 - November 30, 2019; "Formation and maturation of endocrine pancreas progenitors"

AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION Innovative basic science award, Principal Investigator. January 1, 2016 - December 31, 2018; "Using CTGF to enhance functional beta cell mass"
Veterans Administration Merit Award, Principal Investigator, October 1, 2016-September 30, 2020; "Regulation of adult pancreatic beta cell proliferation"

  • 2012-2014 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, " Linking insulin resistance and beta cell proliferation via the FoxMI pathyway, Co-Principle Investigator
  • 2011-2014 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, "Effect of CTGF on adult beta cell proliferation and regeneration", Principal Investigator
  • 2011-2015 Veterans Administration Merit Award, Regulation of adult pancreatic beta cell proliferation , Principal Investigator
  • 2010-2015, NIDDK BCBC UO1, Formation of endocrine pancreas progenitors , Consortium PI
  • 2011-2012, American Diabetes Association, Mentor-based postdoctoral award, Regulation and stimulation of beta cell proliferation by FoxM1 , Principal Investigator
  • 2010-2012, NIH/NIDDK/Vanderbilt Digestive Disease Research Center, "HNF6 expression in human pancreatic cancer", Principal Investigator
  • 2010-2011, NIDDK R56, "FoxM1 in endocrine pancreas growth and regeneration", Principal Investigator
  • 2007-2010, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, "Function of CTGF in Islet Development and Beta Cell Proliferation", Principal Investigator
  • 2006-2010, NIDDK RO1, "FoxM1 in endocrine pancreas growth and regeneration", Principal Investigator
  • 2003-2008, NIDDK RO1, "HNF6 function in the pancreatic endocrine lineage", Principal Investigator
  • 2005-2006, NIDDK R56, "FoxM1 in endocrine pancreas growth and regeneration", Principal Investigator
  • 2003-2006, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, "Noninvasive assessment of pancreatic islet cell mass", Co-investigator
  • 2002-2004, NIDDK R21, "Molecular determinants of vascularization in islets", Co-investigator
  • 2002-2007, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Career Development Award, "The role of pdx1 and HNF6 in proliferation and differentiation of endocrine precursors", Principal Investigator
  • 2002-2004, NIDDK Beta Cell Biology Consortium Pilot and Feasibility Program, HNF6 regulation of islet differentiation and morphology", Principal Investigator