New Initiatives in Diabetes Research in Germany


As of the present time, more than six million people suffer from diabetes in Germany. In view of the steadily growing number of patients, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has developed new research concepts in recent years. These include the establishment of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) and the disease-related Competence Network Diabetes Mellitus (KKNDm). The two research associations presented their first results on November 12th at a symposium at the autumn meeting of the German Diabetes Society in Berlin.

The results of extensive clinical trials and epidemiological studies conducted by the German Center for Diabetes Research and the Competence Network Diabetes Mellitus were the focus of a symposium taking place on the second day of this year’s autumn meeting of the German Diabetes Society. Since 2008 diabetes researchers throughout Germany have joined together to benefit from the interdisciplinary Competence Network when carrying out their projects. In 2009 five research institutions joined together as equal partners in the German Center for Diabetes Research, which is one of six German centers for health research. The aim was to develop innovative prevention and treatment concepts against diabetes. “Through interdisciplinary cooperation, these two recently established research associations seek to achieve a rapid transfer of research results from the laboratory into medical practice,” said Professor Martin Hrabě de Angelis, director of the Institute of Experimental Genetics at Helmholtz Zentrum München and member of the board of the DZD. “By facilitating the exchange of ideas, the two associations create added scientific value.”

Ever increasing numbers of diabetes patients make effective diabetes prevention a key concern of the health care system. Professor Matthias Schulze presented the German Diabetes Risk Test®, which is based on epidemiological data and which he developed together with colleagues at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbrücke. This test is an easy way for adults to determine their individual disease risk on their own and at an early stage. If the test result shows an increased susceptibility to diabetes, effective preventive measures are crucial. Professor Andreas Fritsche, University of Tübingen, gave a brief overview of the German diabetes prevention study of the DZD: “Unfortunately, a change in lifestyle is not sufficient for all individuals with increased risk of diabetes. Through individual prevention strategies we want to keep the disease from developing.”
Professor Michael Roden, scientific director of the German Diabetes Center at the University of Düsseldorf, presented a large-scale clinical study of the German Center for Diabetes Research on the pathogenesis and course of newly diagnosed diabetes. The study findings may lead in the future to individualized treatment and early detection of late complications.

Epidemiological data provide the basis for planning prevention programs. As part of a Competence Network project, Dr. Wolfgang Rathmann of the German Diabetes Center analyzed the relationship between the regional differences in prevalence of diabetes in Germany and various individual and socio-economic factors. Furthermore, Dr. Rathmann, in his capacity as representative spokesman, explained the new structures of the Competence Network. He touched briefly on existing network tools such as the meta-database and the laboratory medical center of the Competence Network (LMZ-Diabetes), which from 2012 on will give all network partners access to standardized validated measurement of lab parameters and corresponding expertise in the assessment of the results. In the long term, external research institutions and industry partners which do not belong to the Competence Network shall be able to use the LMZ-Diabetes.