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Prof. Dr. Peter Schwarz

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Molecular and clinical mechanisms to treat and prevent type 2 diabetes


Previous and current research


Diabetes is one of the main threats to human health in this century. Our research focuses therefore on 2 major topics – diabetes prevention and the genetics of type 2 diabetes.
The major challenge in diabetology in the future is with no doubt the implementation of programs for the prevention of type 2 diabetes. The drastic increase in incidence of diabetes worldwide has been attributed to distinct changes in human behavior and lifestyle during the last century. To prevent the personal and socio-economic burden of diabetes effort to prevent the disease needs to be started before the onset of diabetes and should address all susceptibility factors. Genetic information can help us in the future to understand diseases risk and pathology. This understanding and the development of prevention programs id the perfect match between genetics and applying this knowledge in clinical work.

Future prospects and goals


Therefore the focus in our projects focusing on the prevention of type 2 diabetes are:

  • determining the prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk by the validated FINDRISC questionnaire
  • determining the prevalence of risk factors for T2D
  • Implementing and early risk detection national strategy
  • Implementing a low-cost screening system for the subjects with high diabetes risk using the FINDRISC questionnaire
  • Implementing an intervention programme for the prevention of T2D including:  
                
    Implementation of a training programme for T2D prevention

    Implementation of a follow up of the high-risk subjects detected by screening to prevent relapse and offer booster intervention using different delivery channels like telephone hotline, the Internet, multimedia, written information, telephone counselling

        Assessment of the feasibility of the lifestyle advice by determining the proportion of high-risk
        subjects who complied with the program offered for them

        Assessment of the efficacy of the lifestyle intervention programme to prevent T2D

        Assessment of the efficacy of the lifestyle intervention programme to reduce the prevalence of the
        metabolic syndrome and the estimated CVD risk

        Assessment of long-term effects of the lifestyle intervention on mortality, CVD incidence and quality
        of life


The second focus in our research work is the identification of genetic variants predisposing for type 2 diabetes. The unravelling of the human genome helped to know genes and genetic variants but did not tells us which influence this variants have in modifying disease risk. Therefore the focus in our projects focusing on the genetics of type 2 diabetes are:

  •     analyzing the heterogeneity of genetic variants in different populations in the world
  •     testing the association of key variants with type 2 diabetes
  •     analyzing the clinical phenotype of carriers of key genetic variants



Selected publications

  1. Schwarz P: [Targeted diabetes prevention in high risk groups: pro]. Dtsch Med Wochenschr 130:1103, 2005
  2. Schwarz P: Risikoerkennung zur Prävention des Diabetes mellitus Typ2. Diabetes aktuell für die Hausarztpraxis 1:5-8, 2005
  3. Y Horikawa, N Oda, NJ Cox, X Li, M Orho-Melander, M Hara, Y Hinokio, TH Lindner, H Mashima, PE Schwarz, et al: Genetic variation in the gene encoding calpain-10 is associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nat Genet 2000, 26:163-75.
  4. del Bosque-Plata L, Lin J, Horikawa Y, Schwarz PE, Cox NJ, Iwasaki N, Ogata M, Iwamoto Y, German MS, Bell GI: Mutations in the coding region of the neurogenin 3 gene (NEUROG3) are not a common cause of maturity-onset diabetes of the young in Japanese subjects. Diabetes 50:694-696., 2001
  5. Ehrmann DA, Schwarz PE, Hara M, Tang X, Horikawa Y, Imperial J, Bell GI, Cox NJ: Relationship of calpain-10 genotype to phenotypic features of polycystic ovary syndrome. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 87:1669-1673., 2002
  6. Selisko T, Vcelak J, Bendlova B, Graessler J, Schwarz PE, Schulze J: Mutations and intronic variants in the HNF-1beta gene in a group of German and Czech Caucasians with type 2 diabetes mellitus and progressive diabetic nephropathy. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 110:145-147, 2002
  7. Gorgens H, Schwarz P, Schulze J, Schackert HK: LightCycler assay in the analysis of haplotypes of the type 2 diabetes susceptibility gene CAPN10. Clin Chem 49:1405-1408, 2003
  8. Iwasaki N, Cox NJ, Wang YQ, Schwarz PE, Bell GI, Honda M, Imura M, Ogata M, Saito M, Kamatani N, Iwamoto Y: Mapping genes influencing type 2 diabetes risk and BMI in Japanese subjects. Diabetes 52:209-213, 2003
  9. Weedon MN, Schwarz PE, Horikawa Y, Iwasaki N, Illig T, Holle R, Rathmann W, Selisko T, Schulze J, Owen KR, Evans J, Del Bosque-Plata L, Hitman G, Walker M, Levy JC, Sampson M, Bell GI, McCarthy MI, Hattersley AT, Frayling TM: Meta-analysis and a large association study confirm a role for calpain-10 variation in type 2 diabetes susceptibility. Am J Hum Genet 73:1208-1212, 2003
  10. Fischer S, Julius U, Hanefeld M, Fücker K, Gräßler J, Towers W, Schwanebeck U, Schulze J, Schwarz P: Das Vorkommen vom Genotyp 1.1 im SNP-44 des CAPN10-Gens ist im Stadium des Typ-2-Diabetes mit erhöhten Insulin- und C-Peptid-Werten assoziiert. Diabetes und Stoffwechsel 13:3-9, 2004

Curriculum vitae

  • 1991-1998: Medical Training, Technical University Dresden, Germany; University of Illinois, USA
  • since 1999: MD at the Technical University Dresden, Department of Endocrinopathies and Metabolic Diseases
  • 1999-2000: fellowship at Howard-Hughes-Medical Institute, Chicago, USA
  • 2002: Investigator in national and international Research Project to evaluate aspects of diabetes prevention
  • 2005: scientific secretary of the European DE-PLAN project group