Demographic change poses increasing responsibilities for our society. Especially the metabolic syndrome*, pathological obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases or disorders of the central nervous system are widespread among the elderly population.
These common diseases not only impair the quality of life of the affected individuals, their heightened incidence is also increasingly a burden on the health care system. Science is therefore challenged to develop strategies to help as many people as possible to remain healthy and fit into old age. “Here nutrition research can also make an important contribution,” said Tilman Grune, scientific director of the DIfE. “That is why the research area of the DIfE that studies the causes and consequences of these diseases shall be further expanded. In particular, we want to explore which ingredients in food have a favorable effect on the cellular aging processes,” Grune added. “I am very pleased that the DIfE was able to recruit André Kleinridders, an outstanding young researcher, who will strengthen the team of scientists at the Institute.”
André Kleinridders studied biology at the University of Cologne, where his diploma and doctoral theses were supervised by Prof. Dr. Jens C. Brüning at the Institute of Genetics. After completing his doctorate (Dr. rer. nat.), Kleinridders went to Boston (USA) for a five-year research stay at the Joslin Diabetes Center of Harvard Medical School in the laboratory of Professor C. Ronald Kahn. There he continued the research he had begun in Germany on insulin and leptin resistance ** of the brain. Among other findings, he showed that insulin resistance of the brain can trigger depressive behavior in old age. In 2014 Dr. Kleinridders returned to Germany with the aid of a return grant of the German Research Foundation. First he worked at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in Cologne. As of May 1, 2015 André Kleinridders will lead the young investigators’ group “Central Regulation of the Metabolism” at the DIfE. There he will focus on how diet affects insulin and leptin signaling in the brain and how pathological, diet-associated metabolic changes affect mental performance and eating behavior.
* The metabolic syndrome is a symptom complex characterized by obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance and a disturbance of the lipid metabolism.
** Leptin is a hormone that is released primarily by fat cells. It inhibits the occurrence of hunger feelings and plays an important role in the regulation of the human lipid metabolism.
"Leptin resistance" means that the cells no longer have any response or only a diminished response to leptin.
The German Institute of Human Nutrition (DIfE) is a member of the Leibniz Association. It explores the causes of diet-related diseases in order to develop new strategies for prevention, treatment and dietary recommendations. Its research activities focus on the causes and consequences of the metabolic syndrome – a cluster of conditions characterized by obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance and a disturbance of the lipid metabolism – as well as the role of diet for healthy aging and the biological bases of good food choices and eating habits. Furthermore, the DIfE is a partner of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), which has been funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) since 2009.
The Leibniz Association is the umbrella organization for 89 independent research institutions whose spectrum encompasses the natural, engineering and environmental sciences, economics, the spatial and social sciences as well as the humanities. Leibniz Institutes address issues of social, economic and ecological relevance. They conduct knowledge-driven and applied basic research, maintain scientific infrastructure and provide research-based services. The Leibniz Association sets priorities in knowledge transfer for policymakers, for academia, for businesses and for the public. Leibniz Institutes collaborate intensively with universities – in the form of “Leibniz Science Campi” (thematic partnerships between university and non-university research institutes), for example – as well as with industry and other partners in Germany and abroad. They are subject to a standard-setting, transparent and independent evaluation procedure. Due to the importance of the Leibniz Institutes for Germany as a whole, they are funded jointly by the federal government and state governments, employing some 18,100 individuals, including 9,200 researchers. The entire budget of all of the Leibniz Institutes is approximately 1.64 billion EUR.
Dr. André Kleinridders
Young Investigators’ Group Central Regulation of the Metabolism German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam Rehbruecke (DIfE) Arthur-Scheunert-Allee 114-116