Ray Rajotte

Ray RajotteRay Rajotte, PEng/PhD

Office:     140C, Heritage Medical Research Centre
Mail:        University of Alberta, Edmonton AB T6G 2S2
Phone:     780-492-1212
Fax:         780-492-1627
Email:      rrajotte@ualberta.ca






Current Position


Professor of Surgery and Medicine

Research Area


Islet isolation and transplantation in various animal models including humans.


Current Research Activities


The major focus of Dr. Rajotte’s research is now trying to develop an unlimited source of islet tissue (using neonatal pig islets) and then to transplant these islets without continuous immunosuppression or possibly without anti-rejection drugs. 

A major paper published in Nature Medicine in February 2006, with Dr. Gregory S. Korbutt and researchers at the Yerkes Research Centre and Emory Transplant Centre in Georgia, demonstrated promising results in the use of neonatal pig islets to solve the critical supply problem in islet cell transplantation. This paper shows that neonatal porcine islets can produce insulin independence long-term in primates, as well as shows there is no transmission of PERV (porcine endogenous retrovirus).  This study moves us one step closer to clinical application using pig islets in humans.

The approach used to carry out the transplant without drugs uses encapsulation technology or co-transplantation with Sertoli cells that secrete immunosuppressive products that are able to protect the islets from the body’s immune attack.




Dr. Rajotte is a Biomedical Engineer with a keen interest in diabetes and cryopreservation of islet cells.  After completing his PhD at the University of Alberta, he did his post-doctoral training in the United States with Peter Mazur in Oak Ridge, Paul Lacy and David Scharp in St. Louis, Orion Hegre in Minnesota, and Yoko Mullen and Joshua Brown at UCLA.  In 1979, he returned to Edmonton to join the Department of Surgery and Medicine at the University of Alberta and in 1982 he started the Islet Transplantation Group.

Dr. Rajotte is currently Professor of Surgery and Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Alberta.  Dr. Rajotte has held several appointments at the University of Alberta, most notably Founder and Director of the Islet Transplantation Group (1982 to 2009), Director of the Surgical-Medical Research Institute (1987 to 2011), and founding Scientific Director of the Alberta Diabetes Institute (2003 to 2007). 

Dr. Rajotte’s basic research, which he started in 1972, was taken to the bedside in 1989 when Canada’s first islet transplantation was carried out in Edmonton.  Using a combination of fresh and cryopreserved islets, their third patient became insulin independent for 2.5 years.  In 2000, using a steroid-free protocol in brittle diabetic patients, the Edmonton Islet Transplantation Group was able to produce insulin independence in 100% of their patients when 11,000 islets/kg body weight were transplanted – this is the best success worldwide and has set the standard for islet transplantation.

Dr. Rajotte spearheaded the building of the world class Alberta Diabetes Institute at the University of Alberta using funding from the Alberta Government, the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, the Alberta Diabetes Foundation, and the $28.5 million dollar grant that Dr. Rajotte and the diabetes group received from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.

Selected Publications


RV Rajotte, HL Stewart, WAG Voss, TK Shnitka, JB Dossetor.  Viability studies on frozen-thawed rat islets of Langerhans.  Cryobiology. 14:116-120, 1977.


GL Warnock, NM Kneteman, EA Ryan, MG Evans, REA Seelis, PF Halloran, A Rabinovitch, RV Rajotte.  Continued function of pancreatic islets after transplantation in type I diabetes.  The Lancet. 2(September 2):570-572, 1989.


GS Korbutt, GL Warnock, Z Ao, DK Smith, JF Elliott, RV Rajotte.  Large scale isolation, growth and function of porcine neonatal islet cells.  J. Clin. Invest. 97:2119-2129, 1996.


GS Korbutt, JF Elliott, RV Rajotte.  Cotransplantation of allogeneic islets with allogeneic testicular cell aggregates allows long-term graft survival without systemic immunosuppression.  Diabetes. 46:317-322, 1997. 


AMJ Shapiro, JRT Lakey, EA Ryan, GS Korbutt,E  Toth, GL Warnock, NM  Kneteman, RV Rajotte.  Islet transplantation in seven patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus using a glucocorticoid-free immunosuppressive regimen.  New England Journal of Medicine. 343:230-238, 2000.


K Cardona, GS Korbutt, Z Milas, J Lyon, J Cano, W Jiang, H Bello-Laborn, B Hacquoil, E Strobert, S Gangappa, CJ Weber, TC Pearson, CP Larsen, RV Rajotte.  Long-term survival of neonatal porcine islet xenografts in non-human primates by targeting co-stimulation pathways.  Nature Medicine 12:304-306, 2006. 

Website Links of interest

Department of Surgery