Doctoral Researchers 2022

 

ALL doctoral candidates researching at the Helmholtz Diabetes Center shall be associated members of the International Helmholtz Research School for Diabetes, benefiting from the comprehensive scientific, translational and professional training program for future leaders in diabetes research. The doctoral researchers who started in 2022 and are funded by HRD are:

Els

Els Noordeloos

Institute of Diabetes Research (IDF)

Helmholtz Center Munich

 

"When I was 12 years old, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Later on, as a Biomedical Sciences student at Leiden University in the Netherlands, I finally found some answers to questions that I had for a long time and it made me really enthusiastic about diabetes research. After performing my Bachelor’s internship in the field of islet biology,

I knew that I wanted to stay in the diabetes field to try and find solutions to this incredibly frustrating and underestimated disease. Since then, I have performed a Master’s internship abroad in the field of islet biology and did my Master’s thesis on ways to re-educate the immune system in type 1 diabetes. This was followed up by 2 years of clinical research on diabetes technology.

However, I am very happy that I have found my way back into the lab. My project combines my interest in both the pancreatic islets and the interaction with the immune system and is under the supervision of Dr. Teresa Rodriguez-Calvo. I will be working with state-of-the-art microscopy techniques to discover the role of other molecules that are secreted together with insulin in the development of type 1 diabetes. I hope I will find answers that clarify how the disease develops and identify targets to prevent type 1 diabetes."

Mireia

Mireia Molina van den Bosch

Institute of Diabetes- and Regeneration Research (IDR)
Helmholtz Center Munich

 

"I have always had an intrinsic curiosity, especially in all disciplines related to natural sciences and technology. For this reason, I decided to study Biotechnology at the University of Barcelona (UB). But after graduating, I was eager to learn much more.

Paving the path toward a scientific career in research, I enrolled in a master’s degree in Translational Biomedical Research at the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) & UAB.

During my studies, I had the opportunity to join the Nephrology group at VHIR, where I gained my first insights into the complex but fascinating field of diabetes. We investigated a microvascular complication of diabetes affecting the kidney, commonly known as diabetic nephropathy, and studied whether the combination of specific pharmacological approaches could mitigate disease progression and have a nephroprotective effect. Working on this project made me aware of the increasing prevalence of diabetes and its impact on our society. The urgent need for interventional solutions encouraged me to pursue this line of investigation.

My passion for translational research focused on diabetes and my strong motivation to live abroad prompted me to start a PhD at the Helmholtz Diabetes Center in Munich. My PhD project aims to decipher the mechanisms underlying b-cell development in health and diabetes using a pig model system. Our ultimate goal is to find new therapeutical solutions with clinical translational value."

Patricia

Patricia Velado

Institute of Translational Stem Cell Research (ITS)
Helmholtz Center Munich

 

"My name is Patricia, originally from Spain and in 2015 I completed the Erasmus Mundus Master's program in Evolutionary Biology after studying at Uppsala University (Sweden) and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (Germany).

In the following years, I have worked as a research assistant in three different groups, most recently in the Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) Pathology group, where I developed a deep interest in understanding the mechanisms and causes underlying T1D.

For my PhD project, I will be working at the Institute of Translational Stem Cell Research (ITS) under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Henrik Semb. My project aims to develop a safe and effective cell-based therapeutic product containing glucose-responsive and insulin-secreting beta cells derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESC). The hESC-derived beta cells are a promising alternative to human pancreas and islet transplantation because, unlike organ donation, hESCs expand endlessly providing an unlimited supply of material. Successful transplantation of hESC-derived beta cells is expected to restore endogenous insulin secretion and long-term normoglycemia in T1D patients."

Till

Till Johannsmann

Institute of Diabetes Research (IDF)
Helmholtz Center Munich

 

"I own a master’s degree (M.Sc.) in Biochemistry from the University of Bielefeld. Within my bachelor’s thesis, I focused on Protein Biochemistry by studying protein interactions. Then, in my master’s program, I specialized in Cellular Biochemistry and Immunology due to discovering a particular interest in translational research.

During a research internship and my master’s thesis, I gained my first insights into Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) research which deepened my interest in starting a Ph.D. in the field of T1D immunology.

Autoimmune T1D involves an imbalance in immune tolerance versus immune activation. The impaired immune tolerance apparent with aberrant immune activation finally leads to the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells. Therefore, targeting regulatory T cells (Tregs) as cellular mediators of immune tolerance is one possible way to fight this overshooting immune activation in T1D. Novel compounds that foster Tregs present a promising concept for interfering with the impaired Treg induction in autoimmunity and T1D.

Within my Ph.D. project, I will validate drug candidates identified by a high-throughput screen regarding their effect on Treg induction, function, and stability. This work could contribute to future immunotherapeutics for the prevention and treatment of T1D and other autoimmune diseases."

 

Violet

Qiuyu Sun

Pediatrics Department

Alberta Diabetes Institute

"I graduated from the Unversity of Alberta in 2021, where I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Pharmacology. During my undergrad, I volunteered as a summer student in several different laboratories, including that of Dr. Gary Lopaschuk. From that experience, I found myself really interested in cardiac energy metabolism. Therefore, I decided to pursue further study by committing to graduate school at Dr. Gary Lopaschuk’s laboratory. 

My project aims to determine the metabolic profile of the heart in hear failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). HFpEF is a debilitating disease that is very prevalent in patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and obesity. Despite continued efforts, few reliable therapies have proven to be effective in treating HFpEF. While it is well-accepted that heart failure involves changes in myocardial energetics, it remains unclear whether alterations in cardiac energetics contribute to HFpEF severity. Therefore, the objectives of my study were to define the cardiac energy metabolic profile in HFpEF and then attempt to lessen the severity of HFpEF by improving cardiac energetics.

I am really honored to be part of the team of HDR, and I look forward to the collaboration with Dr. Timo Müller and his lab. I hope that through this collaboration, we can further our understanding regarding the dysregulated glucose metabolism and cardiac insulin resistance of the heart in HFpEF and identify potential therapeutic targets for treating HFpEF.