Involving Patients – Advancing Research Together

How can patients participate in research projects? How can health information be prepared in an understandable way? These questions were discussed by more than 100 participants together with Svenja Schulze, Minister for Innovation, Science and Research of North Rhine-Westphalia, at the biannual meeting of the Regional Innovation Network (RIN) Diabetes of the German Diabetes Center, a partner in the DZD. At the event, scientists presented the results of the RIN project “Patient-initiated Research”. In a panel discussion with experts from different disciplines, the topic of patient participation in research was discussed in detail.

“Against the background of the health-political and economic burdens of diseases such as diabetes, the exchange with those affected by the disease about what they hope for from research is very important,” said Professor Michael Roden, scientific director and executive board member of the German Diabetes Center. “Only through such initiatives as our RIN Diabetes Project is it possible to develop research further to meet the needs of target groups.” For Dr. Olaf Spörkel, project leader of the RIN Diabetes Project, and his team, the cooperation with the various partners has been a great success: “Through the knowledge and ideas of our partners, a broad-based knowledge and competence platform is being developed for people with diabetes in the Düsseldorf region. In the future we want to expand this know-how, strengthen it, and develop innovative measures for personalized diabetes prevention and research.”

The RIN Diabetes Project was founded in 2014 at the German Diabetes Center as inter- and transdisciplinary association. Currently more than 60 partners, including diabetologists in private practice, self-help groups, health insurance companies, pharmacies, associations, companies, hospitals and public offices are participating in the project. The goal of all partners is to reduce the incidence of diabetes in Düsseldorf and the surrounding area, to provide information about new research approaches and therapy options for the disease, to reduce the number of diabetes-related late complications such as nerve and organ damage and to work preventively to raise awareness in children and young people for the importance of a balanced diet and sufficient exercise in everyday life. Within the framework of the project, the knowledge and competence platform was developed including a “signpost” navigation menu.  For people affected by or interested in the disease, this platform offers a quick and easy overview of all relevant offers in Düsseldorf and the surrounding area – including doctors, counseling centers, self-help groups and prevention programs.

From 2014 to 2017, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has funded the RIN Diabetes Project with around 500,000 euros, with the option of further funding until 2020. In 2016 the project received the award “Place of Progress”. This is part of the research strategy "Progress NRW". The three ministries for science, economic affairs and urban development confer this award on institutions that combine economy, ecology and social issues in an innovative way, thus enabling progress for society. The award honors projects that improve people’s lives in a tangible way.

Further information (in German language) can be found at: