The research activities of Ziegler and her team focus on elucidating the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes and on approaches to prevent the autoimmune disease. In large-scale studies, the scientist investigates the relationship between genes, environmental factors and the immune system in the development of autoantibodies against the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. She has succeeded in identifying risk genes and antibody profiles that allow predictions about the development and onset of the disease. In the future, with the aid of this data, both the classification and the time point of the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes will change, thus enabling early and improved treatment for the patient. The scientific findings have already been introduced into clinical medicine in translational approaches. Thus, for participants who fit the study criteria, clinical trials are being conducted which aim to prevent the disease, for instance by means of a vaccination or immunomodulation (link to the overview of the clinical trials). Besides her position as institute director of the Institute of Diabetes Research and as group leader of the research group Diabetes at TU München, the internationally recognized expert is a member of the board of the German Diabetes Association (DDG).
The Excellence in Clinical Research Award of the JDRF honors outstanding, experienced diabetes researchers for their excellent clinical research results. The award is named after Mary Tyler Moore and S. Robert Levine, for their longtime commitment to the JDFR. For more than 40 years the JDRF has been supporting a variety of research initiatives in its mission to find a cure, improve treatment and prevent type 1 diabetes.