Dr. Phelps’s research is focused on biomaterials engineering as a strategy for regenerative therapies with emphasis in the area of type 1 diabetes. Phelps specializes in bio-synthetic cellular microenvironments (e.g., bio-functionalized polyethylene-glycol hydrogel) for controlled presentation of bioactive signals to drive regenerative responses in vivo. He has developed biomaterials for therapeutic angiogenesis and to improve the viability and function of transplanted insulin-producing pancreatic islets.
Phelps is working to develop novel immunomodulatory biomaterials strategies to counter autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes. Phelps also uses advanced light microscopy methods to investigate aspects of basic pancreatic islet biology including the immunopathogenesis of diabetes autoantigens (e.g., GAD65) and the role of neurotransmitter paracrine signaling in regulating islet function.