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German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke (DIfE)

The DIfE investigates the influence of nutrition on health and makes scientific knowledge usable for prevention and therapy. Scientists combine their expertise in basic and applied research: from cells and mice to epidemiological observations and human intervention aiming to translate new approaches most efficiently from the lab to patients.

Our team has broad expertise in evaluating the causes and pathomechanisms of obesity. We collected transcriptome and epigenome data of muscle and adipose tissue samples from human obese adult patients before and after metabolic surgery, as well as multi-omics data from lean and obese mice under different lifestyle conditions. Our tasks are to identify signalling pathways that contribute to childhood obesity and to manipulate newly identified marker genes using CRISPR/Cas9 technology in vitro and in vivo to characterize their function.


Annette performed her PhD in biology, her habilitation in pharmacology and a research stay at the Scripps Research Institute (La Jolla, California) before she was appointed associate professor of RWTH Aachen. Since 2002 she has been working at the German Institute for Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbruecke (DIfE) initially as Head of the Endocrine Pharmacology Group and since 2009 as full professor and head of the Department of Experimental Diabetology. She was awarded with the Werner-Creutzfeldt-Award and the Hellmut Otto Medaille from the German Diabetes Association and the DAG Medaille of the German Obesity Association.

Meriem obtained her Master’s degree in genetics from University of Tunis el Manar and then moved to Paris in 2011 to perform her PhD in biology in the research unit INSERM U986. She obtained her PhD degree from Paris Descartes University in 2015 and since then she joined the Department of Experimental Diabetology for a Postdoctoral fellowship. Her research is focusing on epigenetic regulation of obesity and type two diabetes. In 2020, Meriem was awarded the Silvia King Prize from the German Diabetes Society (DDG).

Heike obtained her PhD in Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Potsdam (Germany) before she performed a Postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden). Since 2021 she is head of the Research group Genetics of Obesity at the DIfE and the Junior research group Molecular and Clinical Life Science of Metabolic Diseases at the University of Potsdam, where she also completed her habilitation in 2022 in Physiology and Pathophysiology. Her research focuses on genetic factors driving muscle insulin sensitivity. She was awarded as best young researcher of the year in 2013 and received the Michelson Award for the best dissertation in 2009/2010 at the University of Potsdam.