In short, what is your research project about? What are you researching and why?
The aim of this research project is to identify the factors underlying the development of type 1 diabetes. Previous studies indicate that the aetiology of T1D is multifactorial and that each person has his or her own way of developing T1D. We study exactly these factors: we identify determinants of individual susceptibility, environmental factors and biomarkers that predict disease development.
There is much talk about multi-, trans- and interdisciplinarity nowadays. Are these merely trendy buzzwords for scientific collaboration, or do they serve an instrumental purpose in your project?
Multi- and interdisciplinary research are essential for the progression of the project. The project is based on a demanding clinical follow-up study. The successful execution of the plan to achieve scientific breakthroughs will also require broad and in-depth expertise in genetics, molecular biology, immunology, endocrinology, protein chemistry, metabolomics, bioinformatics, systems biology and medical ethics and law.
Research into personalised health involves an integrative “from-research-to-practice” mindset. Where do you place your own research in this context? Does your project have partners that are not research-related partners?
The project is driven by scientists specialised in biomedical and natural sciences, collaborating closely with experts in judicial, ethical and clinical areas. The judicial and ethical aspects particularly concern issues such as collecting, handling and use of biological samples and genome research data and developing legislation and regulation in this field.
A big fuss over nothing, or a major change in practices? In your estimation, how and when will the effects of the promotion of personalised health be evident in the healthcare system?
The effects can already be seen in clinical work and, for instance, in planning of drug treatment. In a way, this approach has always been used by physicians but now, increasingly, a number of new tools are becoming available. Previously, the decision-making has been based on clinical experience and intuition rather than on research results.