Doctoral Researchers 2021


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 2021 and have received an HRD fellowship are:


Aliona Harten

Institute of Experimental Genetics (IEG)

Helmholtz Center Munich


"I discovered my strong interest in global health and translational research writing my Bachelor Thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in the course of my B.Sc. in Biosciences at the University of Heidelberg. Thereafter, I enrolled in the M.Sc. program Molecular Biosciences at same University, majoring in Neuroscience. For an incredible 8 months I was able to join the team of EIT Health Germany GmbH - funded by the European Institut of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and tasked with bringing together leading players of the European healthcare system to drive progress in this field. Motivated by this experience, I sought to write my Master Thesis at the interface of research and patient-oriented solution development and found my spot at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine of the University of Zurich with the lab of Prof. Dr. Schwab, working directly in a unique environment created by the presence of both a university and a start-up lab. 

Being passionate about tackling global health problems, I am now starting my PhD in the field of diabetes at the Institute of Experimental Genetics in the lab of Dr. Gerhard K. H. Przemeck. In the course of my project, I will be working on a gene therapy of monogenic diabetes in an existing mouse model as well as establishing a new mouse model for monogenic diabetes. 

In the future, I plan to continue to work at the cross section of research and medicine, striving to help people, never stopping to learn myself. "



Amy Rose Fumo

Institute of Diabetes and Cancer (IDC)
Helmholtz Center Munich


"I began my studies at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy where I completed my Bachelor studies in Biology and discovered my interest in pursuing a career in academia. I than decided to continue my studies in Italy, obtaining my Master’s degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Pavia. My thesis project focused on delineating the role of PIN1, a protein regulating essential signalling cascades through fine-tuning of target protein conformation, in sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is a muscle wasting disease common among adults of older age, but that can also occur earlier in life. During my Master studies, I not only became increasingly interested in the topic, but also realized that the effects seen in skeletal muscle are the result of the interaction between key metabolic compartments.  

As a doctoral student of the International Helmholtz Research School for Diabetes, I have the opportunity to pursue my scientific interests as a member of the Division of Tissue Cross Talk (IDC). My project with Dr. Maria Rohm aims to establish a novel link 
between tissue wasting and pre-existing metabolic dysfunction, and to mechanistically characterize the recently discovered link between liver disease and sarcopenia. These findings would be key in the treatment of metabolic dysfunction, therefore improving 
the quality of life and outcome of patients. "


Lama Saber

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


"In 2018, I obtained my bachelor degree in pharmacy from Eastern Mediterranean University in North Cyprus. Then I completed my master’s degree in biochemistry at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.

During my master’s study I have worked on assessing the role of kallikrein-kinin system in the pathogenesis of inflammatory processes associated with diabetes. This project stimulated my interest in diabetic research, understanding its underlying mechanisms, and identifying novel therapeutic targets and approaches for its treatment.

After my graduation I have worked in a community pharmacy for about one year. Recently, I have started my PhD at the institute of diabetes and regeneration research. And I will be working on investigating novel pathways and molecules that can improve in vitro generation of β cells from human pluripotent stem cells. This project will provide a promising approach in β cell replacement therapy for treatment of diabetes."


Daniel (DAAD funded)

Daniel Agudelo Valencia

Institute of Diabetes and Endocrinology (IDE)
Helmholtz Center Munich


"I got my bachelor's degree in Biology at the University of Caldas, in Manizales-Colombia. There I made the first steps in basic research, trying to understand the diversity that we have in our country. Then, I was lucky to be selected to do a master's in Bioinformatics, where I combined some of my wet-lab skills with new analysis in computational biology, which made us understand more the biology of a Ganoderma fungus we were working with within our group. At the same time, I was working in a small biotech company in the USA, where I learned many things, including patenting processes and developing biotech-applied technologies for industry. Since I was always curious about doing something abroad, I had the chance to participate in the HRD doctoral symposium in 2020 before the outbreak. That experience was crucial to make my mind and focus more on establishing myself in Germany. Two years after, I got a position in Dr Henriette Uhlenhaut's group with the HRD founded by a DAAD fellowship, in the new Institute of Diabetes and Endocrinology, where I am studying the role of Glucocorticoid receptor in the brown adipose tissue (BAT) physiology."


Sreya Bhattacharya

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


"I started my scientific journey with a degree in microbiology from St Xavier’s College in Kolkata.

Following this, I obtained my Master’s degree in Biomedical and Molecular Science Research King’s College London where I was first drawn to a potential career in academia. Pursuing my research interests in diabetes under the supervision of Dr Paul Caton, I began by studying the effect of compound 17, a novel inhibitor of the enzyme NAMPT, first synthesized by Genentech, on the systemic inflammation associated with Type I diabetes in a strep-induced mouse model. As a result of this research experience, I sought out more opportunities to investigate questions in diabetes.

After completing my master’s degree, I continued working with the Diabetes Research Group at King’s College London. We investigated the same enzyme NAMPT, in its monomeric extracellular form, which is elevated in Type 2 diabetes and is associated with causing beta cell dysfunction. On returning to India, I hoped to focus my scientific goals through further experience conducting translational research. This led me to seek out a position at the Department of Endocrinology in IPGMER, Kolkata where I worked for about a year before being accepted into the doctoral program at Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen.

During my PhD I will be working in the lab of Professor Heiko Lickert investigating the role of the newly discovered insulin inhibitory receptor (inceptor) in diabetes. This work will shed light on inceptor as a molecular target for diabetes therapy in the future."