Anette-Gabriele Ziegler Receives EASD–Novo Nordisk Foundation Diabetes Prize for Excellence 2022

Prof. Dr. Anette-Gabriele Ziegler, DZD scientist and Director of the Helmholtz Munich Institute of Diabetes Research (IDF) receives this year’s EASD–Novo Nordisk Foundation Diabetes Prize for Excellence. The prize is awarded to honor outstanding contributions to the understanding of diabetes, its disease mechanisms or its complications.

Prof. Dr. Anette-Gabriele Ziegler © DZD

The principal criteria in the selection process are the quality and significance of the candidates`s scientific contributions to diabetes research. The research goal of Prof. Ziegler is to understand the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes and to find a preventive treatment. Type 1 diabetes is the most common metabolic disease in children and adolescents worldwide. “My vision is a world without type 1 diabetes. This means to find out, how we can prevent the disease“, she says. To reach this goal, Prof. Ziegler has made extraordinary contributions to diabetes research through her distinguished scientific career:

Already in 1989, she initiated the world's first birth cohort study of diabetes, BABYDIAB, with groundbreaking discoveries about the early onset of islet autoimmunity in the first year of life. In this process, it was discovered that insulin is the initial target of autoantibodies in children. Now, she is Principal Investigator for the German Clinical Center of TEDDY (The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young), a study conducting research on the triggers that cause children to get diabetes. As director of the Helmholtz Munich Institute of Diabetes Research (IDF) she leads several long-term studies to examine the link between genes, environmental factors and the immune system for the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. The Fr1da study, Prof. Ziegler initiated in Bavaria, Germany, is the first population-based approach for the early diagnosis of type 1 diabetes associated autoimmunity in childhood. She also cofounded the Global Platform for the Prevention of Autoimmune Diabetes, called GPPAD. Launched in 2017, this platform was designed to carry out newborn screening in the general population, identify infants at high genetic risk of developing type 1 diabetes, and offer them participation in trials to prevent disease initiation. Through centers in Germany, the UK, Poland, Sweden, and Belgium, GPPAD has screened over 350,000 newborns and enrolled over 1,500 eligible children into primary prevention trials to date. The international consortium led by Helmholtz Munich, currently coordinates the newborn screening for genetic predisposition (Freder1k), the POInT study (Primary Oral Insulin Trial) and the SINT1A study (Supplementation With B. Infantis For Mitigation Of Type 1 Diabetes Autoimmunity) which contribute to reach Prof. Ziegler´s goal of a world without type 1 diabetes. These studies make an important contribution to disease pathogenesis, early detection and prevention in diabetes type 1 for children.

Jointly with Helmholtz Munich and TUM she has built one of the most renowned Study Centers for Childhood Diabetes - Early Care and Prevention. The Diabetes Study Center is particularly outstanding for its close contact with study participants, as well as the Center's networking with other national and international institutions and organizations in order to conduct novel treatment approaches within clinical trials. At IDF she focuses on the understanding of the natural history of type 1 diabetes, on the identification of mechanisms and predictive markers of the disease, as well as the translation of findings into trials to prevent type 1 diabetes in man.

The Prize is awarded in collaboration between the European Association for the Study of Diabetes e.V. (EASD) and the Novo Nordisk Foundation. It is accompanied by around 800.000 Euros.

Read more about the research of Prof. Ziegler.