Sophie Steculorum receives Helmholtz Young Investigator in Diabetes Award

Award for rising stars in Metabolism Research

June 02, 2021

Sophie Steculorum, research group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research, was awarded with the Helmholtz Young Investigator in Diabetes (HeIDi) Award recognizing her outstanding achievements in the field.

Diabetes and obesity are an increasing burden on our society. Therefore, research into the control of metabolism to find new ways for their prevention and treatment is of outstanding importance. In May 2021, leading experts and aspiring leaders discussed their research approaches and latest findings at the 8th Helmholtz-Nature Medicine Diabetes Conference in Munich. The event also focused on honoring young scientists who have made outstanding contributions to the understanding of diabetes.

13 candidates coming from research institutions worldwide were nominated by each plenary speaker for the HelDi award. After giving their lecture, two award winners were selected by a committee of internationally renowned experts in diabetes research. One of them was Sophie Steculorum, in recognition of her being a rising star in the field. “I was ecstatic! I feel very honoured that the committee selected me. It is a fantastic feeling for me and my group members to see our work being recognized by experts in the field.” Steculorum says. “This outcome is extremely encouraging, particularly in time of the Covid pandemics which largely decreased opportunities for scientific interactions.  It was the first time I presented our last work on how maternal diet can affect the offspring and predispose to obesity. The HelDi award is an amazing reward and great encouragement!”

Developmental programming of the brain

Metabolic disorders are increasingly diagnosed in childhood and have roots in the very early life. Changes in the nutritional or hormonal environment during gestation or lactation can permanently alter the development of “brain-metabolic” pathways in the offspring. Steculorum wants to identify the mechanisms underlying this perinatal programming of the brain, metabolic pathways, and associated diseases. In her lecture, she presented a project in which her group discovered a novel mechanism by which maternal diet can predispose their offspring to obesity and diabetes.

The awardee

Steculorum studied Neuroscience and Physiology at the University of Lille, France, and did her PhD in Neurobiology at the University of Lille and the Saban Research Institute in Los Angeles, USA. Steculorum then moved to Germany to join the department of Jens Brüning at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in Cologne as a Post Doc. In 2017 Steculorum started her own group “Neurocircuit wiring and function“ at this Max Planck Institute.

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