Carolin Daniel: “Bird´s-eye view, precisely focused on a single point”

The journal Cell Metabolism regularly invites the world’s leading women scientists to contribute articles for the “Rosie Project". In the latest issue, Dr. Carolin Daniel from the Institute of Diabetes Research at the Helmholtz Diabetes Center of Helmholtz Zentrum München recounts the characteristics that she thinks are important in science today, and explains why interdisciplinary teams enrich research.

Carolin Daniel / Quelle: HMGU

“When I started at the university, I visited the library of the former Max Planck Institute for Physiological and Clinical Research,” Daniel says. A sentence from the Histoire naturelle from Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707-1788), she particularly kept in her mind. “The study of nature calls for a mind with apparently opposite qualities: wide views that grasp at a glance, and the detailed care that focuses on a single point.” This combination of a bird‘s-eye view for a wide overview and a focus on individual details has accompanied Daniel through many stages in her career.

Exchange of ideas and technologies

"In the Helmholtz Diabetes Center (director: Prof. Dr. Matthias Tschöp) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, I benefit from a work environment that facilitates new and diverse ideas and supports collaborations across disciplines,” the scientist relates. She and her team work at the Institute of Diabetes Research (director: Prof. Dr. Anette-G. Ziegler) where they are studying mechanisms of immune tolerance in diabetes for example how to interfere with aberrant immune activation in autoimmune Type 1 diabetes.

The exchange of ideas and technologies play an important role here. “I think that exciting discoveries often come at the interface between fields.” This is also why the combination of people in your lab will make the difference: “Creative synergy is better than my way or your way. It is our way.” But how does the researcher motivate her team? “I have also learned that passion for science is as contagious as it is motivating,” she writes for the “Rosie Project”.

The project’s name was inspired by “Rosie the Riveter”*, a fictitious American woman from 1941. She symbolized a new image of women and stood as a symbol for the economic power of women. Cell Metabolism addresses this idea with “Women in Metabolism”.

Further Information

Cell Metabolism,
* Wikipedia article

As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 2,300 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 37,000 staff members. 

The Institute of Diabetes Research (IDF) focuses on the pathogenesis and prevention of type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes and the long-term effects of gestational diabetes. A major project is the development of an insulin vaccination against type 1 diabetes. The IDF conducts long-term studies to examine the link between genes, environmental factors and the immune system for the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. Findings of the BABYDIAB study, which was established in 1989 as the world’s first prospective birth cohort study, identified risk genes and antibody profiles. These permit predictions to be made about the pathogenesis and onset of type 1 diabetes and will lead to changes in the classification and the time of diagnosis. The IDF is part of the Helmholtz Diabetes Center (HDC). 

The German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) is a national association that brings together experts in the field of diabetes research and combines basic research, translational research, epidemiology and clinical applications. The aim is to develop novel strategies for personalized prevention and treatment of diabetes. Members are Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health, the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf, the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbrücke, the Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden of the Helmholtz Zentrum München at the University Medical Center Carl Gustav Carus of the TU Dresden and the Institute for Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases of the Helmholtz Zentrum München at the Eberhard-Karls-University of Tuebingen together with associated partners at the Universities in Heidelberg, Cologne, Leipzig, Lübeck and Munich.