Clinical Research: DDZ Scientist Receives the Ferdinand Bertram Prize

Dr. Julia Szendrödi, head of the Clinical Study Center at the German Diabetes Center (DDZ), was awarded the Ferdinand Bertram Prize at this year's annual meeting of the German Diabetes Society in Berlin. She was honored for her outstanding clinical research on insulin resistance and the role of mitochondria in skeletal muscle and the liver in type 2 diabetes.1

Privatdozentin Julia Szendrödi, MD, PhD, received the Ferdinand Bertram Prize at the annual meeting of the German Diabetes Society in Berlin. Source: DDZ

To date, the mechanisms of insulin resistance in the skeletal muscles and other tissues of type 2 diabetes patients are not fully understood. In this context, diabetologist Szendrödi is investigating the effects of a hypercaloric diet and little exercise on patients with type 2 diabetes. She was able to show that manifest type 2 diabetes is characterized by a reduced combustion of the nutrient supply to the muscles. As a result, the "fitness" of the mitochondria (power stations of the cell) is limited.

Excessive fat can be stored not only in skeletal muscle but also in the liver. In her studies, Szendrödi also found that non-alcoholic fatty liver often shows reduced energy metabolism activity (mitochondria) in the liver in patients with type 2 diabetes. These findings enable a better understanding of the cellular processes that lead to type 2 diabetes. "I am very pleased about this award and I hope that my research will contribute to developing individual measures for those affected", said Privatdozentin Julia Szendrödi MD, PhD, head of the Clinical Study Center at the German Diabetes Center (DDZ) on the occasion of the award ceremony.

The Ferdinand Bertram Prize, endowed with 20,000 euros, has been awarded since 1963 in honor of the diabetologist Ferdinand Bertram, who died in 1960.

Short Biography:
Born in 1978 in Vienna, Julia Szendrödi studied medicine at the University of Vienna/Austria from 1996 to 2002 and received her medical doctorate in 2002. She then worked as a research assistant at the Institute of Pharmacology in Vienna. In May 2004 she transferred to the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism of the Medical University of Vienna, to the working group of Professor Michael Roden. From April to October 2006, she continued her academic work at the Karl Landsteiner Institute of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Until 2008, this was followed by specialist training as an internist at the 1st Medical Department of the Hanusch Hospital in Vienna. During this time, the prizewinner received the title Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in 2007 after completing a parallel doctorate program on the subject of signal transduction.

From 2008 to 2013 Julia Szendrödi was deputy head of the Energy Metabolism working group at the Institute for Clinical Diabetology of the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf. Since September 2013 she has been head of the Clinical Study Center there. Parallel to her work at the DDZ, she completed her training as a specialist in internal medicine and in endocrinology and diabetology at the University Hospital Düsseldorf from 2009 to the end of 2015. In July 2016 Julia Szendrödi received her Habilitation degree in Internal Medicine. The topic of her thesis was “Cellular mechanisms of insulin resistance in skeletal muscle and the liver: the role of mitochondrial function and ectopic lipid deposition“.

1)  Szendroedi et al, PLoS Med. 2007 IF: 14.0/ Szendroedi et al, Hepatology. 2009 IF: 11.2/ Szendroedi et al, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 IF: 9.8