Inaugural lecture by Professor Kalle Kisand on relations between immune system and diabetes mellitus

On Tuesday, 27 March at 16:15, the University of Tartu Professor in Laboratory Medicine delivers his inaugural lecture “Immune system and diabetes mellitus” in the White Hall of the University Museum.

In his inaugural lecture, Professor Kalle Kisand discusses the role of immune mechanisms in the development and course of different forms of diabetes mellitus, including complications. As immune mechanism disorders that lead to diabetes may activate years before the clinical picture of diabetes develops, Professor Kisand also explains the important question of how to assess the risk of prediabetes by means of various biomarkers and gene risks.

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease, which involves disorders of the glucose metabolism and emerges if the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or if the organism cannot effectively use the produced insulin. Insulin is a hormone without which cells cannot absorb glucose from the bloodstream. As a result, various biochemical processes in the cells are disturbed, including energy production.

The prevalence of diabetes mellitus in the world is growing, but its causes are not clear yet. The increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus is believed to be associated with lifestyle changes, obesity and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is characterised by a higher-than-normal lipid level in blood, elevated blood pressure and low-grade inflammation in the tissues; whereas immune system plays an important role in its development. Type 1 diabetes is even more directly connected with the immune system, because is caused by the body’s own immune cells attacking the cells of the pancreas. The activation of such autoimmune mechanisms destroys insulin-producing pancreas cells and results in insulin deficiency with glucose metabolism disorders.

Kalle Kisand graduated cum laude from Tartu State University in medicine in 1985. After postgraduate studies in Tartu, he defended his dissertation “Development of ELISA for evaluation of autoantibodies of Liver Specific Protein (LSP) in autoimmune liver diseases” in the 2nd Moscow State Medical Institute and was awarded the degree of candidate of medical sciences in allergology and immunology (the third in Estonia). Kalle Kisand has gone through all the stages in a researcher’s career from junior research fellow (1988) to senior research fellow (1994). In spring 2017, he was appointed a professor in laboratory medicine of the University of Tartu.

Professor Kisand has worked on several important research fields in clinical medicine, e.g. infectious diseases, gastroenterology, endocrinology, neurology, rheumatology and orthopaedics. His research topics are closely related with laboratory medicine in order to apply immunological and genetic markers in the diagnostics of diseases, predicting their severity and assessing the risk of their occurrence. Today, Professor Kisand’s research is focused on autoimmune pathogenesis and gene risks of pancreatic disorders and disorders of nervous tissue. In recent years, as a new research topic, he has studied the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis to discover new biomarkers for the early diagnosis of the disease and predict progression risks.  Kalle Kisand also took part in the Helicobacter pylori research led by Professor Kaljo Villako, which received the 1994 annual award of the Ministry of Culture and Education.

Professor Kisand is the founding member of the Estonian Society for Immunology and Allergology and a member of the Estonian Society for Laboratory Medicine. He has more than once been the chair of the Estonian Society for Immunology and president of the Baltic Immunological Society.  Besides research and teaching, Professor Kisand has worked as a coordinator of the Estonian healthcare project led by the Ministry of Social Affairs, and as a World Bank expert in implementing the healthcare project.


Additional information: Kalle Kisand, Professor in Laboratory Medicine of the University of Tartu, 731 9341,

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