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Pedro Herrera, Ph.D.

Full Professor
University of Geneva Faculty of Medicine
Department of Genetic Medicine & Development, room 9112

Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Room # 9112, 1 rue Michel-Servet
Geneva , Geneva CH-1211

p. +4122 379 5225
· email
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Pedro Herrera, Ph.D. - Investigator Profile

Pedro L. Herrera acquired his undergraduate biology training in the University Complutense (Madrid, Spain). He received his PhD in 1994, from the University of Geneva, Faculty of Sciences (Switzerland), under the guidance of Jean-Dominique Vassalli. In 1996 he became an independent investigator at the Faculty of Medicine of Geneva after obtaining his first regular grant award from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Today he is full professor at the Faculty of Medicine as well as President of the University’s Animal Ethics Committee, and Director of its Transgenic Core Facility. He is member of several international scientific committees.


Pedro investigates pancreas development, cell lineage allocation during pancreatic ontogeny, and adult pancreas regeneration using different transgenic mouse models. He pioneered the study of mouse pancreas development and carried out the first in vivo ablation of different pancreatic endocrine cell types during his thesis (Herrera et al, 1991; Herrera et al, 1994). Later, he performed the first in vivo cell lineage tracing analysis using the Cre/loxP system (Herrera, 2000), and demonstrated the existence of competence windows for beta-catenin signaling in exocrine cells during pancreatic growth (Strom et al., 2007). He has found that adult acinar cells can transdifferentiate to adipocytes with ageing and in certain pathological conditions (Bonal et al., 2009), thus seeding new light on the origin of adipose tissue and adult cell plasticity. More recently, he showed that pancreatic Neurogenin3-expressing cells, which are the precursors to all islet endocrine cell types, are strictly unipotent at the single cell level in vivo (Desgraz & Herrera, 2009). In the field of regenerative biology, he has found that the adult pancreas retains the ability of making new b-cells after their total or near total loss, and that this process reveals a high degree of cell plasticity, since the majority of the regenerated b-cells are indeed fully mature adult a-cells that have spontaneously reprogrammed to producing insulin and other b-cell-specific factors in this situation of extreme b-cell loss (Thorel et al, 2010). 

Scientific Interests/Keywords

pancreas development; beta cell development and generation; regeneration; reprogramming; cell tracing; transgenic mice

Professor , Herrera Lab

Click to view the profile for Fabrizio Thorel, Ph.D..
Click to view the profile for Simona Chera, Ph.D.
Click to view the profile for Nicolas Damond, MSc.
Click to view the profile for Kenichiro Furuyama, Ph.D., M.D..
Click to view the profile for Valentina Cigliola.
Click to view the profile for Luiza Ghila, Ph.D.
Click to view the profile for Delphine BARONNIER, PhD student.
Publication Citation
24361012 Tattikota SG, Rathjen T, McAnulty SJ, Wessels HH, Akerman I, van de Bunt M, Hausser J, Esguerra JL, Musahl A, Pandey AK, You X, Chen W, Herrera PL, Johnson PR, O'Carroll D, Eliasson L, Zavolan M, Gloyn AL, Ferrer J, Shalom-Feuerstein R, Aberdam D, Poy MN Argonaute2 mediates compensatory expansion of the pancreatic β cell. (2014) Cell Metab 19: 122-34 (Added 2014-03-06 07:34:31.474071)
24011077 Fujikawa T, Berglund ED, Patel VR, Ramadori G, Vianna CR, Vong L, Thorel F, Chera S, Herrera PL, Lowell BB, Elmquist JK, Baldi P, Coppari R Leptin engages a hypothalamic neurocircuitry to permit survival in the absence of insulin. (2013) Cell Metab 18: 431-44 (Added 2014-03-10 11:15:56.896124)
23863811 Supale S, Thorel F, Merkwirth C, Gjinovci A, Herrera PL, Scorrano L, Meda P, Langer T, Maechler P Loss of prohibitin induces mitochondrial damages altering β-cell function and survival and is responsible for gradual diabetes development. (2013) Diabetes 62: 3488-99 (Added 2014-03-10 11:15:37.611799)
23518924 Pitetti JL, Calvel P, Zimmermann C, Conne B, Papaioannou MD, Aubry F, Cederroth CR, Urner F, Fumel B, Crausaz M, Docquier M, Herrera PL, Pralong F, Germond M, Guillou F, Jégou B, Nef S An essential role for insulin and IGF1 receptors in regulating sertoli cell proliferation, testis size, and FSH action in mice. (2013) Mol Endocrinol 27: 814-27 (Added 2014-03-06 07:33:32.932842)
23434936 Allister EM, Robson-Doucette CA, Prentice KJ, Hardy AB, Sultan S, Gaisano HY, Kong D, Gilon P, Herrera PL, Lowell BB, Wheeler MB UCP2 regulates the glucagon response to fasting and starvation. (2013) Diabetes 62: 1623-33 (Added 2014-03-06 07:33:16.048943)
23382704 Schaffer AE, Taylor BL, Benthuysen JR, Liu J, Thorel F, Yuan W, Jiao Y, Kaestner KH, Herrera PL, Magnuson MA, May CL, Sander M Nkx6.1 controls a gene regulatory network required for establishing and maintaining pancreatic Beta cell identity. (2013) PLoS Genet 9: e1003274 (Added 2014-03-10 11:15:00.219322)
23300479 Pitetti JL, Calvel P, Romero Y, Conne B, Truong V, Papaioannou MD, Schaad O, Docquier M, Herrera PL, Wilhelm D, Nef S Insulin and IGF1 receptors are essential for XX and XY gonadal differentiation and adrenal development in mice. (2013) PLoS Genet 9: e1003160 (Added 2014-03-06 07:32:36.170908)
23274909 Bonal CB, Baronnier DE, Pot C, Benkhoucha M, Schwab ME, Lalive PH, Herrera PL Nogo-A downregulation improves insulin secretion in mice. (2013) Diabetes 62: 1443-52 (Added 2014-03-06 07:32:12.755626)
23043159 Huang YC, Rupnik MS, Karimian N, Herrera PL, Gilon P, Feng ZP, Gaisano HY In situ electrophysiological examination of pancreatic α cells in the streptozotocin-induced diabetes model, revealing the cellular basis of glucagon hypersecretion. (2013) Diabetes 62: 519-30 (Added 2014-03-06 07:31:51.770789)
22374165 Zhang Y, Xie Z, Zhou L, Li L, Zhang H, Zhou G, Ma X, Herrera PL, Liu Z, Grusby MJ, Zhang WJ The zinc finger protein ZBTB20 regulates transcription of fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase 1 and β cell function in mice. (2012) Gastroenterology 142: 1571-1580.e6 (Added 2014-03-06 07:31:31.762873)
22143775 Virostko J, Henske J, Vinet L, Lamprianou S, Dai C, Radhika A, Baldwin RM, Ansari MS, Hefti F, Skovronsky D, Kung HF, Herrera PL, Peterson TE, Meda P, Powers AC Multimodal image coregistration and inducible selective cell ablation to evaluate imaging ligands. (2011) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108: 20719-24 (Added 2014-03-06 07:31:05.819906)
21964593 Schaffer AE, Yang AJ, Thorel F, Herrera PL, Sander M Transgenic overexpression of the transcription factor Nkx6.1 in β-cells of mice does not increase β-cell proliferation, β-cell mass, or improve glucose clearance. (2011) Mol Endocrinol 25: 1904-14 (Added 2014-03-06 07:29:24.463406)
21949761 Korhonen HM, Meikar O, Yadav RP, Papaioannou MD, Romero Y, Da Ros M, Herrera PL, Toppari J, Nef S, Kotaja N Dicer is required for haploid male germ cell differentiation in mice. (2011) PLoS One 6: e24821 (Added 2014-03-06 07:29:03.516803)
21926270 Thorel F, Damond N, Chera S, Wiederkehr A, Thorens B, Meda P, Wollheim CB, Herrera PL Normal glucagon signaling and β-cell function after near-total α-cell ablation in adult mice. (2011) Diabetes 60: 2872-82 (Added 2014-03-06 07:28:47.855854)
21852533 Yang YP, Thorel F, Boyer DF, Herrera PL, Wright CV Context-specific α- to-β-cell reprogramming by forced Pdx1 expression. (2011) Genes Dev 25: 1680-5 (Added 2014-03-06 07:28:30.720068)
21558806 Kopp JL, Dubois CL, Hao E, Thorel F, Herrera PL, Sander M Progenitor cell domains in the developing and adult pancreas. (2011) Cell Cycle 10: 1921-7 (Added 2014-03-06 07:28:11.514944)
21521872 Hu He KH, Lorenzo PI, Brun T, Jimenez Moreno CM, Aeberhard D, Vallejo Ortega J, Cornu M, Thorel F, Gjinovci A, Thorens B, Herrera PL, Meda P, Wollheim CB, Gauthier BR In vivo conditional Pax4 overexpression in mature islet β-cells prevents stress-induced hyperglycemia in mice. (2011) Diabetes 60: 1705-15 (Added 2014-03-06 07:27:46.640165)
21106168 Thorel F, Herrera PL [Conversion of adult pancreatic alpha-cells to beta-cells in diabetic mice]. (2010) Med Sci (Paris) 26: 906-9 (Added 2014-03-06 07:27:15.805134)
21067943 Desgraz R, Bonal C, Herrera PL β-cell regeneration: the pancreatic intrinsic faculty. (2011) Trends Endocrinol Metab 22: 34-43 (Added 2014-03-06 07:26:28.637916)
20934536 Sylvestersen KB, Herrera PL, Serup P, Rescan C Fgf9 signalling stimulates Spred and Sprouty expression in embryonic mouse pancreas mesenchyme. () Gene Expr Patterns 11: 105-11 (Added 2014-03-06 07:26:06.350197)
20413507 Ait-Lounis A, Bonal C, Seguín-Estévez Q, Schmid CD, Bucher P, Herrera PL, Durand B, Meda P, Reith W The transcription factor Rfx3 regulates beta-cell differentiation, function, and glucokinase expression. (2010) Diabetes 59: 1674-85 (Added 2010-07-13 06:24:46.024535)
20382751 Métrailler-Ruchonnet I, Pagano A, Carnesecchi S, Khatib K, Herrera P, Donati Y, Bron C, Barazzone Argiroffo C Bcl-2 over-expression in type II epithelial cells does not prevent hyperoxia-induced acute lung injury in mice. (2010) Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol : (Added 2010-07-13 06:24:17.276336)
20374962 Gu C, Stein GH, Pan N, Goebbels S, Hörnberg H, Nave KA, Herrera P, White P, Kaestner KH, Sussel L, Lee JE Pancreatic beta cells require NeuroD to achieve and maintain functional maturity. (2010) Cell Metab 11: 298-310 (Added 2011-01-07 10:38:05.479429)
20364121 Thorel F, Népote V, Avril I, Kohno K, Desgraz R, Chera S, Herrera PL Conversion of adult pancreatic alpha-cells to beta-cells after extreme beta-cell loss. (2010) Nature 464: 1149-54 (Added 2010-11-15 04:58:39.963879)
20138042 Lu J, Herrera PL, Carreira C, Bonnavion R, Seigne C, Calender A, Bertolino P, Zhang CX Alpha cell-specific Men1 ablation triggers the transdifferentiation of glucagon-expressing cells and insulinoma development. (2010) Gastroenterology 138: 1954-65 (Added 2010-07-13 06:22:46.47098)
19793886 Desgraz R, Herrera PL Pancreatic neurogenin 3-expressing cells are unipotent islet precursors. (2009) Development 136: 3567-74 (Added 2009-12-15 09:07:30.085229)
19356716 Kawamori D, Kurpad AJ, Hu J, Liew CW, Shih JL, Ford EL, Herrera PL, Polonsky KS, McGuinness OP, Kulkarni RN Insulin signaling in alpha cells modulates glucagon secretion in vivo. (2009) Cell Metab 9: 350-61 (Added 2010-07-13 06:23:23.255099)
19065050 Cantley J, Selman C, Shukla D, Abramov AY, Forstreuter F, Esteban MA, Claret M, Lingard SJ, Clements M, Harten SK, Asare-Anane H, Batterham RL, Herrera PL, Persaud SJ, Duchen MR, Maxwell PH, Withers DJ Deletion of the von Hippel-Lindau gene in pancreatic beta cells impairs glucose homeostasis in mice. (2009) J Clin Invest 119: 125-35 (Added 2009-04-07 05:05:34)
19022256 Bonal C, Thorel F, Ait-Lounis A, Reith W, Trumpp A, Herrera PL Pancreatic inactivation of c-Myc decreases acinar mass and transdifferentiates acinar cells into adipocytes in mice. (2009) Gastroenterology 136: 309-319.e9 (Added 2010-11-15 04:59:03.172455)
19015267 Carobbio S, Frigerio F, Rubi B, Vetterli L, Bloksgaard M, Gjinovci A, Pournourmohammadi S, Herrera PL, Reith W, Mandrup S, Maechler P Deletion of glutamate dehydrogenase in beta-cells abolishes part of the insulin secretory response not required for glucose homeostasis. (2009) J Biol Chem 284: 921-9 (Added 2009-04-07 05:05:56)
18956314 Bonal C, Herrera PL Genes controlling pancreas ontogeny. (2008) Int J Dev Biol 52: 823-35 (Added 2009-04-07 05:06:49)
18713856 Louagie E, Taylor NA, Flamez D, Roebroek AJ, Bright NA, Meulemans S, Quintens R, Herrera PL, Schuit F, Van de Ven WJ, Creemers JW Role of furin in granular acidification in the endocrine pancreas: identification of the V-ATPase subunit Ac45 as a candidate substrate. (2008) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 105: 12319-24 (Added 2009-04-07 05:06:16)
17706201 Quoix N, Cheng-Xue R, Guiot Y, Herrera PL, Henquin JC, Gilon P The GluCre-ROSA26EYFP mouse: a new model for easy identification of living pancreatic alpha-cells. (2007) FEBS Lett 581: 4235-40 (Added 2009-04-07 05:02:46)
17596282 Strom A, Bonal C, Ashery-Padan R, Hashimoto N, Campos ML, Trumpp A, Noda T, Kido Y, Real FX, Thorel F, Herrera PL Unique mechanisms of growth regulation and tumor suppression upon Apc inactivation in the pancreas. (2007) Development 134: 2719-25 (Added 2010-11-15 04:59:26.658037)
17404619 Collombat P, Hecksher-Sorensen J, Krull J, Berger J, Riedel D, Herrera PL, Serup P, Mansouri A Embryonic endocrine pancreas and mature beta cells acquire alpha and PP cell phenotypes upon Arx misexpression. (2007) J Clin Invest 117: 961-70 (Added 2009-04-07 05:03:04)
16786601 Kockel L, Strom A, Delacour A, Nepote V, Hagenbuchle O, Wellauer PK, Herrera PL An amylase/Cre transgene marks the whole endoderm but the primordia of liver and ventral pancreas. (2006) Genesis 44: 287-96 (Added 2009-04-07 04:43:59)
16642023 Hashimoto N, Kido Y, Uchida T, Asahara S, Shigeyama Y, Matsuda T, Takeda A, Tsuchihashi D, Nishizawa A, Ogawa W, Fujimoto Y, Okamura H, Arden KC, Herrera PL, Noda T, Kasuga M Ablation of PDK1 in pancreatic beta cells induces diabetes as a result of loss of beta cell mass. (2006) Nat Genet 38: 589-93 (Added 2009-04-07 05:01:58)
16611688 Heiser PW, Lau J, Taketo MM, Herrera PL, Hebrok M Stabilization of beta-catenin impacts pancreas growth. (2006) Development 133: 2023-32 (Added 2009-04-07 05:03:41)
16215705 Riggs AC, Bernal-Mizrachi E, Ohsugi M, Wasson J, Fatrai S, Welling C, Murray J, Schmidt RE, Herrera PL, Permutt MA Mice conditionally lacking the Wolfram gene in pancreatic islet beta cells exhibit diabetes as a result of enhanced endoplasmic reticulum stress and apoptosis. (2005) Diabetologia 48: 2313-21 (Added 2009-04-07 05:04:49)
15879142 Aurrand-Lions M, Lamagna C, Dangerfield JP, Wang S, Herrera P, Nourshargh S, Imhof BA Junctional adhesion molecule-C regulates the early influx of leukocytes (2005) J Immunol 174: 6406-15 (Added 2005-08-16 11:05:27)
15680365 Lee CS, Sund NJ, Behr R, Herrera PL, Kaestner KH Foxa2 is required for the differentiation of pancreatic alpha-cells. (2005) Dev Biol 278: 484-95 (Added 2005-08-16 11:05:43)
15561943 Lu Y, Herrera PL, Guo Y, Sun D, Tang Z, LeRoith D, Liu JL Pancreatic-specific inactivation of IGF-I gene causes enlarged pancreatic (2004) Diabetes 53: 3131-41 (Added 2005-08-16 11:05:57)
15331541 Gesina E, Tronche F, Herrera P, Duchene B, Tales W, Czernichow P, Breant B Dissecting the role of glucocorticoids on pancreas development. (2004) Diabetes 53: 2322-9 (Added 2005-08-16 11:06:12)
15110714 Ashery-Padan R, Zhou X, Marquardt T, Herrera P, Toube L, Berry A, Gruss P Conditional inactivation of Pax6 in the pancreas causes early onset of (2004) Dev Biol 269: 479-88 (Added 2005-08-16 11:06:26)
15012626 Zaiko M, Estreicher A, Ritz-Laser B, Herrera P, Favor J, Meda P, Philippe J Pax2 mutant mice display increased number and size of islets of Langerhans (2004) Eur J Endocrinol 150: 389-95 (Added 2005-08-16 11:06:43)
14980497 Theis M, Mas C, Doring B, Degen J, Brink C, Caille D, Charollais A, Kruger O, Plum A, Nepote V, Herrera P, Meda P, Willecke K Replacement by a lacZ reporter gene assigns mouse connexin36, 45 and 43 to (2004) Exp Cell Res 294: 18-29 (Added 2005-08-16 11:07:08)
14706695 Delacour A, Nepote V, Trumpp A, Herrera PL Nestin expression in pancreatic exocrine cell lineages. (2004) Mech Dev 121: 3-14 (Added 2005-08-16 11:07:23)
12941803 Bertolino P, Tong WM, Herrera PL, Casse H, Zhang CX, Wang ZQ Pancreatic beta-cell-specific ablation of the multiple endocrine neoplasia (2003) Cancer Res 63: 4836-41 (Added 2005-08-16 11:07:37)
12624426 Herrera PL, Nepote V, Delacour A Pancreatic cell lineage analyses in mice. (2002) Endocrine 19: 267-78 (Added 2005-08-16 11:07:50)
12475772 Wang H, Hagenfeldt-Johansson K, Otten LA, Gauthier BR, Herrera PL, Wollheim CB Experimental models of transcription factor-associated maturity-onset (2002) Diabetes 51 Suppl 3: S333-42 (Added 2005-08-16 11:08:06)
12370279 Xuan S, Kitamura T, Nakae J, Politi K, Kido Y, Fisher PE, Morroni M, Cinti S, White MF, Herrera PL, Accili D, Efstratiadis A Defective insulin secretion in pancreatic beta cells lacking type 1 IGF (2002) J Clin Invest 110: 1011-9 (Added 2005-08-16 11:08:19)
11902693 Herrera PL Defining the cell lineages of the islets of Langerhans using transgenic (2002) Int J Dev Biol 46: 97-103 (Added 2005-08-16 11:08:37)
Resource ID Name Contributed on Primary Contributor
177 Glucagon-Cre Mar 7, 2006 Yes
178 Pdx1-EGFP Mar 7, 2006 Yes
179 Insulin-Cre Mar 7, 2006 Yes
180 Ngn3-Cre Mar 7, 2006 Yes
204 RIP-DTR X Oct 9, 2007 Yes
209 Autosomal beta-cell toxigene strain Dec 21, 2007
210 X-linked toxigene strain Dec 21, 2007
211 NOD-Rag-Perforin Akita Dec 21, 2007
212 NOD.Cg-Rag1tm1Mom Il2rgtm1Wjl/Sz Dec 21, 2007
214 NOD.Cg-Prkdcscid Il2rgtm1Wjl Tg(Ins1-EGFP/GH1)14Hara/Sz Dec 26, 2007
233 Glucagon-DTR May 6, 2008 Yes
234 Glucagon-rtTA May 6, 2008 Yes
235 RIP-DTR May 6, 2008 Yes
1121 NOD-scid IL2rgnull Mar 5, 2009
1141 NOD-Rag1null IL2rgnull Ins2Akita Mar 8, 2009
1261 NOD-Rag1nullIL2rgnullIns2Akita Mar 13, 2009
1262 NOD-scidIL2gnull Mar 16, 2009
1421 NOD-Rag1nullPrf1null Apr 20, 2009
4142 NOD-scid IL2Rγnull Nov 11, 2011
4143 NOD-Rag IL2rγnull Ins2Akita Nov 15, 2011
4156 Ins2Apple.LCA Nov 29, 2011 Yes
4287 Establish transgenic strains to lineage-trace beta- and alpha-cells in pregnant females Mar 15, 2012
4545 Sst.rTTA.LCA Sep 28, 2012
4561 Sst.rTTA.LCA Nov 28, 2012
24 completed resources viewable