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EASD Scientist Training Course 2015 - Report

The course activities

The Deutsches Diabetes-Zentrum, a centre of excellence in mouse models of diabetes, located in Düsseldorf, Germany hosted the 22nd EASD YSTC in November 2015. Participants from all over the world conducting research in European Institutions were welcomed on the evening of the 8th of November with a reception in the DDZ foyer. Members of the friendly DDZ team, including Prof. Dr. Hadi Al-Hasani, Prof. Dr. Michael Roden, postdoctoral and PhD researchers, as well as the very welcoming EASD organisers, including Mary Hata, greeted us with drinks, appetizers and good conversations in the very colourful autumn in Germany.

 The theoretical and practical modules took place from the 8th to the 13th of November. The participants were divided into groups of 3-4 students in order to provide a more hands-on approach to the various techniques practiced. This way, each of us had the opportunity to handle 2 mice (1 C57BL/6J and 1 NZO). Throughout the week, each group was able to learn from extremely talented, skilled, welcoming and helpful researchers, who were responsible to mentor each practical module. These modules included:

  • indirect calorimetry, mentored by Dr. Tamara Castañeda and Angelika Horrighs;
  • nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and plasma insulin ELISA, mentored by Sandra Lebek and Tanja Schallschmidt;
  • genotyping, mentored by Tim Benninghoff, Torben Stermann and Annette Schober;
  • intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test (ip GTT), mentored by Christian de Wendt, Simon Göddeke, and Annette Kurowski;
  • treadmill exercise, mentored by Christian Springer and Christian Binsch.

Each one of the above-mentioned practical modules was accompanied by a brief theoretical module to introduce the topic and the basic underlying principles. On the first day, we were welcomed by Prof. Dr. Hadi Al-Hasani, who gave a welcoming message and a general introduction, followed by Julia Aretz, who gave an introduction to the animal facility. Later that day, Dr. Alexandra Chadt led the discussion session on general introduction into methods, mouse database, and course expectations.

On the second day, Tuesday, Julia Aretz, talked about mouse breeding and hygiene management. Prof. Dr. Hadi Al-Hasani then walked us through how to design experiments for deep metabolic phenotyping.

On the third day, Wednesday, Prof. Dr. Hadi Al-Hasani gave a talk on the functional analysis of diabetes risk genes. His talk was followed by Dr. Alexandra Chadt´s presentation on how to find new risk genes for metabolic diseases.

On Thursday, Dr. Thomas Jelenik gave a very detailed presentation on the gold standard to assess insulin sensitivity: the insulin clamps. His presentation was followed by a very interesting talk on how the circadian rhythms influence metabolism by Dr. Tamara Castañeda.

In addition, throughout the week, each participant had an opportunity to share their current research projects. All presentations were followed by lively discussions, including good suggestions and advices.

Social events

We had a great evening every day of this training week. The entire organisation committee and DDZ hosts were with us to socialize and have fun outside the research training. These social events made us discover the wonderful city of Düsseldorf as we went around the old town and experienced the fun of eating and drinking in a German style. One of the most fun evenings was making pizza on our own in the DDZ Cafeteria. We had a lot of fun pretending to be good chefs and further enjoyed ourselves over a very good local German beer the whole night, and by singing songs in different national languages, and playing games until we became tired. These informal, relaxing activities brought everyone closer together. Such interaction was very beneficial in promoting scientific exchange as well, as we felt more comfortable to ask questions and got motivated to learn many new things from colleagues and local “mentors”. At the last evening we had a splendid farewell dinner at “Schloss Mickeln” a castle that belongs to the University.


Above all, we would like to give our hearty thanks for providing us with such an amazing training to develop our skills in the field of diabetes research. First we thank Prof. Dr. Hadi Al-Hasani, for his excellent moral support and organisation; we are grateful to him for sharing his research experience and for teaching us how to ‘trouble-shoot’ the problems that we face in our individual projects. We also thank him especially for his tolerance and patience, and for coming down and having real good fun with us throughout the event, making it a big success by encouraging us in every way possible. And next we would like to give our special and warm thanks to Lilly Diabetes for their generous financial support. Also, we feel grateful and thankful to the EASD for their great contribution in promoting the 22nd young scientist training course to renovate and mould the junior scholars in the field of diabetes. Finally, we specially thank each and every member of staff who contributed with their valuable time in teaching and training us for each day of the course. We truly appreciate this effort and the patience demonstrated when teaching us novel techniques. We are grateful for their kind help and support.