In Germany an estimated six million people suffer from diabetes. About 90 percent of them have type 2 diabetes, commonly called old-age diabetes. The disease begins slowly, so that it is often detected too late – namely only after there is end-organ damage. Among the severe late effects are diseases such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, diabetic foot syndrome and blindness. Through timely applied, specific preventive or therapeutic measures, the disease and thus serious sequelae can be prevented or at least delayed. People with an increased risk of the disease can be identified by means of the risk test, which can therefore significantly help to prevent much personal suffering.
To improve the test developed by the DIfE for the first time in 2007 based on the Potsdam EPIC** study data, Kristin Mühlenbruch pursued the question in her dissertation whether genetic information can refine the predictability of the test. As she shows, data related to the known diabetes genes (to date a total of 42) do not contribute to this appreciably. However, information about a familial predisposition certainly does. “We have therefore extended the risk test to include questions about the family medical history and were able to confirm the improved meaningfulness of the test in another large population study, the MONICA/KORA study,” said award winner Kristin Mühlenbruch.
In addition to her empirical studies and her active participation in designing the questionnaire and online diabetes tests, Mühlenbruch also conducted methodological studies. “She further developed a widely used methodical concept for the evaluation of prediction models, which in the future should be implemented particularly in the area of medical predictive research,” said Professor Matthias Schulze, who supervises the work of the young scientist and heads the Department of Molecular Epidemiology at DIfE. “Kristin Mühlenbruch has accomplished an outstanding interdisciplinary achievement which couples statistical methodology with medical-epidemiological questions. Her findings are meaningful both for methodological research as well as for the prevention of one of the major chronic diseases of our society – the latter with a very strong practical relevance,” said Schulze.
Since 2001 the Forschungsverbund Berlin has been awarding a Young Female Scientist Award. It is awarded annually to a young female scientist working in a field covered by the institutes of the Forschungsverbund Berlin; however, the research work need not have originated in an institute of the Forschungsverbund. The research fields of the institutes are in the areas of ICT, structural research, optoelectronics and laser research, microsystems technology, new materials, applied mathematics, molecular pharmacology, veterinary medicine and environmental research.
The award ceremony will take place on November 4, 2015 at 7:00 pm in the Leibniz Head Office, Chausseestraße 111 in Berlin-Mitte. Media representatives are cordially invited. Please register at preis(at)fv-berlin.de.
* The DIfE – GERMAN DIABETES RISK TEST® (DRT) is available as an online and a questionnaire version. The test is based on the data of more than 27,000 participants of the Potsdam EPIC** Study and was validated with data from the Heidelberg EPIC study, the Tübingen Family Study for Type 2 Diabetes, the study “Metabolic Syndrome Berlin Potsdam” and the MONICA/KORA (MONItoring trends and determinants in CArdiovascular disease /Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg) study. Both the questionnaire for private persons and the patient questionnaire enable a very accurate determination of an individual type 2 diabetes risk of a person for a period of five years. The DRT is recommended for medical practice and for prevention by the German Diabetes Society and important mediators (e.g. by the German Diabetes Aid – diabetesDE and the AOK federal association). The online test is currently being updated.
** EPIC: European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. The EPIC Study is a prospective study which investigates the relationships between nutrition, cancer and other chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Twenty-three administrative centers in ten European countries with a total of 519, 000 adult participants take part in the EPIC Study. The Potsdam EPIC Study is part of the EPIC Study and is led by Adjunct Professor Heiner Boeing.