Research Group "Diabetes Epidemiology"

The research focus of this working group is the identification of determinants for type 2 diabetes and other major chronic diseases related to type 2 diabetes, such as coronary heart disease and stroke, and to investigate their interrelationship.

The specific aims are

  • to identify new biomarkers related to the development of these diseases in order to clarify the underlying pathophysiological pathways and to develop new algorithms for improved prediction of future disease development in healthy subjects. With regard to new biomarkers our research focus lies in the area of markers of subclinical inflammation, endothelial function, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) and iron metabolism, alpha-2 Heremans Schmid glycoprotein (fetuin-A), steroid hormones and other protein biomarkers.
  • to examine the role of lifestyle factors (dietary habits, physical activity, smoking and dietary supplement use) with regard to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease development as well as the interaction between these lifestyle factors with the above mentioned biomarkers.
  • to contribute to the discovery of new genetic variants associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease development and to examine the role of gene-environment interactions for disease development.
  • to examine the consequences of early derangements in glucose metabolism and overt type 2 diabetes on the development of micro- and macrovascular complications.

Another important research area of this working group is related to health in old age. Life expectancy has increased substantially during the last decades in all Western countries. Older adults are particularly prone to become “frail”, i.e. to develop a state of high vulnerability for adverse health outcomes such as onset of disability, falls and fractures, morbidity, institutionalisation or mortality. Furthermore, a large proportion of aged subjects will eventually develop major chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular diseases, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and type 2 diabetes. The co-occurrence of several chronic diseases (multimorbidity) is frequent among older adults. Since frailty as well as multimorbidity can have a major impact on the maintenance of functioning, personal autonomy and quality of life in aged people, we aim to identity the determinants of frailty and multimorbidity in aged subjects in order to develop effective prevention strategies to delay or prevent the development of these conditions.

Our research projects are mainly based on data from the Monitoring of Trends and Determinants in Cardiovascular Diseases (MONICA)/Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg (KORA) Augsburg studies conducted since 1984 in the area of Augsburg, Southern Germany: see KORA homepage.

Further information on specific ongoing or completed research projects can be found under Projects.