Skip to main content

Joint European and Latin American Research Network on Diabetic Microangiopathy

Final Report Summary - EULAMDIMA (Joint European and Latin American Research Network on Diabetic Microangiopathy)

EULAMDIMA was an exchange program to train young investigators and allow estrablished investigators to exchange in the field of diabetic microangiopathy. The exchange program was arranged between all for of universities of Andres Bello in Santiago de Chile, Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico, the University Medical Center Groningen (Groningen the Netherlands) and the University of Mannheim/Heidelberg (Germany).
The WHO estimates that the metabolic disease diabetes will become the leading cause of morbidity and premature mortality by the year 2020, severely affecting both developed and developing countries. Diabetic microvascular complications affect eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Hyperglycaemia is the most important risk factor for diabetic microangiopathy. However, the mechanisms by which poor glucose control mediates functional and structural changes are poorly understood. New insight into the key pathogenic pathways is crucial for novel therapeutic strategies to prevent and cure these diabetes-associated microvascular complications.
EULAMDIMA was build on a novel and unique international focus on microvascular mechanisms as outlined in the FP-7 programme DIAMAP. It has a multidisciplinary and translational approach combining state-of-the-art platforms of (pre-)clinical expertise with expertise in vascular or neuronal biology, novel model systems, and endothelial targeted therapeutic strategies. It fosters the exchange of knowledge by making use of international complementary knowledge and provides access to fundamental genetic and environmental data.
The EULAMDIMA scheme contributed to both the construction of new and enhancement of existing networks. It builds on the UMCG-UHEI cooperation established within the International Research Training Group GRK880 “Vascular Medicine” as well as the cooperation between the UMCG and the Latin American partners UNAM and UNAB within the Abel Tasman Talent Programme. GRK880, thanks to the complementary actions of EULAMDIMA was continued with a new IRTG between UMCG/UHEI and UNAB/UNAM as preferrred partners, in the form of DIAMICOM (Diabetic Microvascular Complications) in 2013. Again thanks to the complementary actions of EULAMDIMA, DIAMICOM was awarded a second 'round' in 2017: internationalization was a major point of review. EULAMDIMA and DIAMICOM were genuine partners in crime.
Transfer of knowledge by training
All selected IRSES partners were strongly committed and were engaged in a continuous, complementary and synergistic training effort for development of ER and ESR. All participating institutions offered to their fellows at the group, department and institutional level continuous training in the form of courses, seminars and lectures covering scientific as well as complementary skills issues, regular meetings and seminars to discuss ongoing work, visits to international laboratories and presentations of results at conferences.
This IRSES consortium provided training for ESR in order to:
1. gain experience within multiple disciplines/research tools not available in own research institute
2. work with (internationally) experienced researchers
3. collaborate internationally in translational projects
At the heart of this program was the collaborative, complementary and multidisciplinary training of ER and ESR to perform diabetic-designated research at an outstanding level. A strong emphasis of this network was to reinforce multidisciplinary approaches and mobility to achieve a strong and broad training of the complete IRSES consortium in both scientific and complementary skills. This was achieved by the following specific training actions comprising:
1. Training through research
2. Training through practical network training courses
3. Training through attendance of (internal) external meetings & conferences
4. External experts/visiting scientists
EULAMDIMA trained early stage researchers in methodology and embedded them in research with the ultimate aim to define novel targets for the treatment of microvascular complications related to diabetes to help alleviate the immense burden that is posed on both individuals and societies. The complementing consortia EULAMDIMA and DIAMICOM were fruitful to pave the way towards novel therapies, albeit that this is a formidable task that expands beyond the timespan of both consortia. The involvement of two companies (Sulphatec and Sanofi) that both have a strong interest in development of anti-diabetic pharmaca shows that the consortia are on the right track.
The pre-existing and established and successful research collaborations between the UMCG-UHEI (IRTG) and the UMCG-UNAB/UNAM (ATTP) were highly complementary, and operated in synergy which facilitated a betterunderstanding of the pathogenetic mechanisms underlying development of diabetes-associated microangiopathy.
All exchanges were met with great enthusiasm by the hosting partners and the candidates. It yielded new scientific relationships, new grant applications and PhD positions. Training was handson on site and usually embedded in ongoing research i.e. learning by doing. This was very much to the satisfaction of the ESRs whom also benefitted from being exposed to different lab cultures, speaking English / Spanish as well as being exposed to different cultures. The ERs either via physically exchanging or via digital media such as Skype, established joint papers, joint grant applications and a number of joint (some upcoming) PhD defenses (double-degree). Although EULAMDIAM has been concluded, the research did not stop and is continued in the form of newly founded partnership that are applying for grants nationally, bilaterally and internationally.