Diabetes Research Department at Helmholtz Zentrum München


Neuherberg, 16.11.2010. The Minister-President of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, officially  opened the Diabetes Research Department at the Helmholtz Zentrum München today. The department pools expertise in the field of diabetes research at the  centre, enabling it to now also assume a leading role in diabetes research in Germany.

An estimated  366 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes mellitus; in Germany about ten per cent of the population is affected by the disease. Diabetes therefore poses major challenges for society and for scientists. Although lifestyle factors combined with specific genes are known to cause diabetes, the exact mechanisms that trigger its development remain unknown. The Helmholtz Zentrum München addresses this unsatisfactory situation by shedding light on this multifactorial disease from the point of view of various scientific disciplines. An ongoing scientific exchange takes place in the Diabetes Research Department with a view to obtaining a thorough understanding of this complex disease. The expertise of the scientists involved, most of whom hold joint appointments with the Technical University of Munich, covers the entire value creation chain from basic research through to hospitals. The aim is to develop personalised medical options for the diagnosis, therapy and prevention of diabetes mellitus.

The Minister President of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, praised the Helmholtz Zentrum München, calling it a “pioneer of innovation and a beacon in our scientific landscape whose light shines well beyond Bavaria“. The Diabetes Research Department focuses  on excellent basic research as well as on intensive cooperation with hospitals, universities and other research institutes. It is here – in the field of biomedical research – that the future of our country is shaped.”

Dr. Wolfgang Heubisch, Bavarian Minister of State for Science, Research and the Arts, is delighted that the Diabetes Research Department has forged a strong alliance with the two universities in Munich that are recognised as centres of excellence. Munich as a base for scientific research will thus continue to be a top partner in global diabetes research in the future. The Helmholtz Zentrum München is the focal point for diabetes research in Munich!“

The President of the Helmholtz Association, Professor Jürgen Mlynek, explained that the Helmholtz Zentrum München with its new Diabetes Research Department was once again making “an exemplary contribution towards fulfilling the association’s mission. As one of the world’s leading research centres in the field of environmental health, the centre also uniquely combines health research and the study of relevant environmental influences – and thus tackles the major, pressing health issues facing society.”

Prof. Dr. Günther Wess, Scientific Director of the Helmholtz Zentrum München, emphasised the close cooperation between the Helmholtz Zentrum München and Munich’s research establishments. “The Helmholtz Zentrum München has forged a very close strategic alliance with the Technical University of Munich, as three successful joint appointments in the field of diabetes research show. The new Diabetes Research Department is visible proof of this successful partnership and establishes the necessary framework for pooling cutting-edge scientific expertise at this location.”

The new Diabetes Research Department includes the following institutes and clinical cooperation groups:

  • Institute of Experimental Genetics, Director: Professor Martin Hrabe de Angelis (Chair of Experimental Genetics, Technical University of Munich (TUM); joint appointment)
  • Institute of Diabetes Research, Director: Professor Anette-Gabriele Ziegler (Chair of Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes, Technical University of Munich; joint appointment)
  • Institute for Diabetes and Obesity, Director: Professor Matthias Tschöp (Chair of Metabolic Diseases, Technical University of Munich; Alexander von Humboldt Professorship; joint appointment)
  • Institute for Diabetes and Regeneration Research, Director: Professor Heiko Lickert (Chair of Diabetes Research / Beta Cell Research, Technical University of Munich; joint appointment)
  • Clinical Cooperation Group Nutrigenomics and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Director: Professor Hans Hauner (set up jointly with the Technical University of Munich)
  • Clinical Cooperation Group Prediction and Sub-Classification of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Director: Professor Jochen Seissler (set up jointly with the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)

German weightlifter Matthias Steiner, a special guest at the opening of the department,  spoke about how he copes with diabetes mellitus. The world champion and Olympic gold medallist has been injecting himself several times a day with insulin for the past ten years or so. His hope that a medicine that is tailored to his specific needs – a field of basic research at the Helmholtz Zentrum München – motivates him to champion research into diabetes. Here, as in all the areas of his life, his motto is: Don’t dream your life, live your dreams.”

In order to pool research into important common diseases and to speed up translation (i.e. the translation of research results into clinical trials ), the Federal German government has established German Centres for Health Research. The Helmholtz Zentrum München assumes a leading role in the German Centre for Diabetes Research,  in which a further four renowned research institutes participate: the German Diabetes Centre, the German Institute of Human Nutrition and the Paul Langerhans Institutes of the Universities of Tübingen and Dresden.

(Press release Helmholtz Zentrum München, 16.11.2011)