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Helmholtz Munich | Stefanie Winkler
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Prof. Dr. Heiko Lickert

Director, Institute of Diabetes and Regeneration Research (IDR) and W3 Professor and Chair of Beta Cell Biology, Medical Faculty, Technical University Munich (TUM)
+49 89 3187 3760VisitEmail meBuilding/Room: Campus Neuherberg, building 3620, room 306b

"Insulin is a therapy, but not a cure” (Frederick Banting, 1923). Our main focus is on regenerative and curative therapies. Specifically, we want to regenerate insulin-producing ß-cells in diabetic patients or replace them by stem cell-derived ß-cells, if these are already lost. 

"Insulin is a therapy, but not a cure” (Frederick Banting, 1923). Our main focus is on regenerative and curative therapies. Specifically, we want to regenerate insulin-producing ß-cells in diabetic patients or replace them by stem cell-derived ß-cells, if these are already lost. 

 

Research Focus

At the Institute of Diabetes and Regeneration Research, Heiko Lickert and his team study the development and regeneration of the pancreas, and in particular of the insulin-producing β cells and how we can use this knowledge to find a cure for diabetes. His research includes in-depth basic research to achieve a better understanding of how β-cells form during development and how they lose their identity and function during diabetes progression. The main goal is to develop novel regenerative therapeutic approaches for the treatment of diabetes mellitus in order to go beyond current symptomatic treatment and stop the progression of the disease. Findings from his studies serve as solid basis to either regenerate β-cells directly in the patient (β-cell regeneration therapy) or replace lost β-cells with stem cell-generated β-cells (β-cell replacement therapy).

 

Academic Career

Heiko is a leading expert in the field of developmental, stem cell and islet biology. Since 2011 he is the Director of the Institute of Diabetes and Regeneration Research at the Helmholtz Center Munich and  W3 Professor and Chair of Beta Cell Biology in the Medical Faculty of the Technical University Munich. Heiko started his scientific career at the Albert-Ludwigs University and Max-Planck Institute in Freiburg where he received his PhD with distinction in the field of molecular embryology. He moved then for his postdoctoral studies to the Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto where he gained experience in the field of endoderm development and organogenesis. In 2005 he transferred his research to Helmholtz Munich where he worked on endoderm, pancreas and endocrine lineage development, homeostasis and regeneration as an Emmy-Noether junior group leader funded by the German Research Foundation.

He is the recipient of several prestigious prizes like the Werner-Creutzfeldt-Preis from the Deutsche Diabetes Gesellschaft (DDG - 2020), the PRO-SCIENTIA-Förderpreis from the  Eckhart-Buddecke-Stiftung (2020), the Paula and Richard von Hertwig Award for Interdisciplinary Cooperation from Helmholtz Munich (2018 and 2011), the Otto-Hahn Medal from the Max-Planck Society (2003) and the Hans-Spemann Award from the Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg (2002).

His work is funded by the European Research Council (ERC Starting and Advanced grant), Bavarian State Ministry for Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy (m4 Award), European Commission (consortium ISLET), German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF - eISLET consortium),  German Research Foundation (DFG), Eli Lilly for an industry partnership, Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft (HGF) and the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD).

He is involved in several institutional responsabilities:

•    Incoming designated President of the German Stem Cell Network (from autumn 2022)
•    Honorary Fellow and member of the Institute of Advanced Study of the TUM (since 2022)
•    Board of Directors of the International Society of Differentiation (since 2018)
•    Member of the Think Tank for the Helmholtz Center Munich (since 2018)
•    Advisory Board and Graduate School Steering Committee – TUM, Medical Faculty (since 2017)
•    Member of the Research Coordination Board and of the Advisory Board of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) (since 2016)
•    Member of the Steering Committee of the Helmholtz Diabetes Center (HDC) (since 2016)
 

 

 

Expertise

β CellsDiabetesPancreas Developmentβ-cell Regenerationβ-cell ReplacementInsulin/IGF1 SignalingWNT SignalingGLP-1 Receptor  InceptorGene targetingPluripotent Stem Cells  Intestinal Stem Cells

Professional Career

since 2011

Director of the Institute of Diabetes and Regeneration Research (IDR)

Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health (HMGU), Munich, Germany  

since 2011

W3 Professor and Chair of Beta Cell Biology

Medical Faculty, Technical University Munich (TUM) (‘German Elite University’), Munich, Germany 

2009-2011

Tenured group leader, Endoderm Development and Regeneration Group

Institute of Stem Cell Research, HMGU, Munich, Germany

2005-2009

Junior group leader/senior scientist, Endoderm Development and Regeneration Group

Institute of Stem Cell Research, HMGU Germany

2002-2004

Postdoctoral scientist at Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute

Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada 

1999-2001

Doctoral degree in Molecular Embryology

Albert-Ludwigs University and Max-Planck Institute for Immunobiology, Department of Molecular Embryology, Freiburg, Germany

Honors and Awards

  • 2022 Advanced Grant, European Research Council (ERC)

  • 2021 m4 Award, Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wirtschaft, Landesentwicklung und Energie

  • 2020
    PRO-SCIENTIA Award from the Eckhart-Buddecke-Stiftung

  • 2020 Werner-Creutzfeldt-Preis, Deutsche Diabetes Gesellschaft (DDG)

  • 2020 Consortium “eISLET - Engineered Pancreatic Islets for Cell Replacement Therapies", Innovation Competition “Organ replacement from the lab” of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

  • 2015 Starting Grant, European Research Council (ERC)

  • 2003 Otto-Hahn Medal, Max-Planck Society

  • 2002 Hans-Spemann Award, Albert-Ludwigs University, Freiburg

Helmholtz Munich ǀ Matthias Tunger

Most important publications

PubMed

2021 Nature 590, 326–331

Ansarullah; Jain, C; Far, FF; Wißmiller, K; Homberg, S; Gräfin von Hahn, F; Raducanu, A; Schirge, S; Sterr, M; Bilekova, S; Siehler, J; Wiener, J; Oppenländer, L; Morshedi, A; Bastidas-Ponce, A; Collden, G; Irmler, M; Beckers, J; Feuchtinger, A; Grzybek, m; Ahlbrecht, C; Feederle, R; Plettenburg, O; Müller, T; Meier, M; Tschöp, M; Coskun, Ü and Lickert, H

Inceptor counteracts insulin signalling in β -cells to control glycaemia

Nature Metabolism 23, pages23–31

Sachs, S; Bastidas Ponce, A; Tritschler, S; Bakhti, M; Böttcher, A; SánchezvGarrido, MA; Tarquis Medina, M; Kleinert, M; Fischer, K; Jall, S; Harger, A; Bader, E; Roscioni, S; Ussar, S; Feuchtinger, A; Yesildag, B; Neelakandhan, A; Jensen, CB; Cornu, M; Yang, B; Finan, B; DiMarchi, RD; Tschöp, MH; Theis, FJ*; Hofmann, SM*; Müller, TD*; Lickert, H*

Targeted pharmacological therapy restores β-cell function for diabetes remission

2016 Nature 535, 430–434

Bader, E; Migliorini, A; Gegg, M; Moruzzi, N; Gerdes, JM; Roscioni, S; Bakhti, M; Brandl, E; Irmler, M; Beckers, J; Aichler, M; Feuchtinger, A; Leitzinger, C; Zischka, H; Wang-Sattler, R; Jastroch, M; Tschöp, MH; Machicao, F; Staiger, H; Häring, H-U; Chmelova, H; Chouinard, JA; Oskolkov, N; Korsgren, O; Speier, S; Lickert, H

Identification of proliferative and mature beta-cells in the islet of Langerhans