Recently, our group identified that harmine is able to induce β-cell proliferation both in vitro and in vivo, mediated via the DYRK1A-NFAT pathway. Since, harmine suffers from a lack of selectivity, both against other kinases and CNS off-targets, we therefore sought to expand structure-activity relationships for harmine's DYRK1A activity, to enhance selectivity for off-targets while retaining human β-cell proliferation activity. We carried out optimization of the 9-N-position of harmine to synthesize 29 harmine-based analogs. Several novel inhibitors showed excellent DYRK1A inhibition and human β-cell proliferation capability. An optimized DYRK1A inhibitor, 2-2c, was identified as a novel, efficacious in vivo lead candidate. 2-2c also demonstrates improved selectivity for kinases and CNS off-targets, as well as in vivo efficacy for β-cell proliferation and regeneration at lower doses than harmine. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that 2-2c is a much improved in vivo lead candidate as compared to harmine for the treatment of diabetes.