• Staff exchange programme 2019

    December 12 2018


    For the 9th consecutive year, IDF Europe is continuing its Staff Exchange Programme. If you are working or volunteering for an IDF Member in Europe, apply for this unique opportunity to join the IDF Europe staff and work in Brussels as a “staff member on loan” in a dynamic and international atmosphere for a duration of 3 to 6 months.

    The successful applicant will have the chance to: 

    • Contribute to on-going advocacy, membership activities and projects managed by IDF Europe
    • Help foster improved relations with European Members
    • Represent IDF Europe at events and conferences
    • Help in the organisation of meetings and congresses and preparing material for those events

    For IDF Europe, the programme is also an opportunity to gain very valuable insight into the work and projects carried out by our Members, and to look at ways to strengthen the collaboration with our membership.

    How to apply:

    Send your CV and letter of motivation to by 31 January 2019

    In 2017, two young advocates joined us for the Staff Exchange Programme, Rachel Portelli from Malta and Weronika Kowalska from Poland. This is what they have to say about their experience: 

    Rachel WDD

    As a social policy graduate and a person living with type 1 diabetes for the past 20 years, I had dreamed of working in an environment such as that of IDF Europe – The staff exchange programme is so much more than I ever expected! During my stay at IDF Europe, I was involved in the youth group, attended a number of conferences, and been involved in several meetings with IBM regarding Watson Analytics. I was also involved in the preparation of World Diabetes Day. Together with other staff members, a “call for diabetes” from young advocates to Members of the European Parliament was prepared. I was also given the opportunity to attend the event held at the European Parliament in Strasbourg where an afternoon debate was held.  I was able to see and be a part of all the work done behind the scenes to hold such an event which is so much more than I ever expected.” 

    Rachel Portelli, Malta

    IMG 0122"The International Diabetes Federation Europe Staff Exchange Programme is a valuable experience, which helps develop skills, improve knowledge and strengthens ties. I attended the IDF Europe Youth Leadership Camp in 2016 as a participant where I got to know the organization better and found out the possible ways of engaging in various activities in the diabetes community. I was interested in joining the IDF Europe office in Brussels for a 6-month internship to support European diabetes projects and gain experience working in a non-profit organisation with such a multinational team. During my time at the office I was mainly responsible for graphic designs and helping with Social Media analysis and strategies, since I am professional Designer and Online Marketing Specialist. My biggest project was designing a diabetes exhibition which was presented in EU institutions such as the European Commission in Brussels and European Committee of the Regions during World Diabetes Day events. I was also involved in preparations for this year's Youth Leadership Camp in Romania where I had the opportunity to conduct workshops about Communication and Social Media for Campaigning for participants - it gives a totally different perspective on the Camp. I think that International Diabetes Federation Europe Staff Exchange Programme will be a rich experience for any young diabetes advocate who wants to know more about diabetes environment and make a change for people living with diabetes in Europe." 

    Weronika Kowalska, Poland

  • SLODA and the school competition for the prevention of diabetes wins IDF Europe Long-Standing achievement prize 2018

    December 12 2018
    Slovenian assoc 
    SLODA representative vice president Alojz Rudolf and secretary Špelca Rudolf receive IDF Europe long-standing achievement prize, awarded by Eli Lilly and Company

    IDF Europe celebrates the third edition of IDF Europe Prizes in Diabetes on 25 November in Tirana, Albania. This year, we acknowledge our Slovenian member association Zveza društev diabetikov Slovenije (SLODA) with the prize of Long-standing Achievement awarded by Eli Lilly and Company. Through this prize, we recognise the endless dedicated work of our members associations to support the lives of people with diabetes in their respective countries and to prevent the condition.

    Founded 60 years ago, SLODA is one of our oldest member organizations. After the Award Ceremony, we talked to his representative, Vice-president Alojz Rudolf. Smiling and proud, he holds his prize and happily shared with us more about their SLODA’s long-standing achievements throughout all these years.


    It has been more than 60 years since your organization was founded. In your opinion, what have been your organization’s major achievements along these years?

    Our major achievement has been also our main project, which we are extremely proud of. It is called Competition in knowledge about diabetes for primary and secondary schools. In our opinion, these kind of projects are one of the best awareness programs for type 2 prevention not only in our country, but also at European level.

    ljutomer Mikosic
    Participants of 2018 Competition in knowledge about diabetes

    This year, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the competition. Over this period, more than 160.000 competitors has participated in the program. Each of these participants has received awareness information on, not only healthy lifestyle for themselves and their families, but also on ways to prevent or postpone diabetes type 2 and its co-morbidities.

    Moreover, we also consider the National Diabetes Prevention and Care Development Programme 2010 – 2020 as another of our biggest achievements in 2010.

    You have just won IDF Europe long-standing achievement for diabetes 2018. What 2018 activities make you more proud? What are your organization’s highlights for this year?

    As mentioned before, we are celebrating this year 2018 the 20th anniversary of the first competition in knowledge about diabetes in primary and secondary schools. So in this very long period we grew and expanded the programme and that’s why we are so proud of it.

    For the first time, we have also performed World Diabetes Day activities together with the Slovenian Heart Foundation. Since diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases are significantly linked, we organised together WDD press conference and roundtable, among others. During this 2018 WDD, we had around 1.000 participants and 47 buildings were illuminated in blue.

    Castel of Ljubljana. Author: Nik Rovan 
    Castle of Ljubljana. Author: Nik Rovan 

    What does this prize means to you and your organization?

    This prize confirms the effectiveness of our awareness raising activities on diabetes in our country; but also reassures that our recent program [competition in primary and secondary school] is on the right track. This award is important because it means that IDF Europe recognises our tireless work for diabetes throughout the years, acknowledging the organisations efforts and projects, and encourage us to continue our way forward.

    What are the specific challenges for people living with diabetes in Slovenia face?

    In general terms, Slovenian people living with diabetes do not suffer from specific challenges, since almost all medical devices (such as insulin pumps) are CGMS are available.

    However, we are having problems regarding the strips provision. People living with type 2 diabetes, who are on diet or tablets, are not receiving these strips and we are thus now focusing our policy efforts on the right of patients to receive 50 strips per year.

    What are your organization’s priorities and objectives for next year?

    Our immediate and more practical priorities are related to internal organizational matters such as electing a new president and increasing the number of staff to well manage our increasing projects. Our mid-long term objectives are to work closer with the Slovenian Heart Foundation to share common efforts and improve awareness about diabetes. We will also start preparing with other stakeholders the National Diabetes Plan 2020-2030.

    These objectives are challenging and demand sustained and constant effort in the following months.

    In your opinion, in which direction should evolve the current political lines on diabetes, at EU and national level?

    In our opinion, all political decisions should focus on early prevention of diabetes. Investing in early prevention, the costs of diabetes care will decrease in the long term. This is one of the reasons why in the past years, we focused our effort on the school Competition. It is a long-term prevention investment and practice.


    With a big smile, Alojz continued to hold his prize and we asked him what recommendation he would give to other organizations working for diabetes around Europe. “Cooperation and collaboration between organisations is key,” he categorically stated. “We would, for instance, overcome linguistic, geographical barriers”. For Alojz, it is clear: SLODA

    “We are all together fighting for the rights of patients living with diabetes in the European region. Collaborating is the only way we will make the Together we are stronger statement become true”.

    IDF Europe is a federation of 69 national associations in 44 countries. They pursue national objectives but share the common goal of supporting people living with diabetes and preventing the condition. Members are the core of our organisation and our joint work give meaning to our daily efforts. And this is why we are happy to acknowledge another year, the hard work of our Slovenian member organisation. Congratulations to Alojz Rudolf and SLODA team for their commitment and dedication with diabetes.



  • The brain-insulin relationship gives the 2018 IDF Europe Young Researcher Prize to Pr Dr Martin Heni

    November 11 2018

    IDF Europe celebrates the third edition of IDF Europe Prizes in Diabetes on 25 November in Tirana, Albania. For the third consecutive year, we acknowledge the excellence, innovation, and commitment in diabetes. This time, Pr Dr Martin Heni won IDF Europe Young Researcher Prize sponsored by Air Liquide Healthcare, for his studies on pathogenetic of insulin resistance and to type 2 diabetes and his interesting research on the effect of the hormone insulin in the human brain. 

    IDF Europe Young Researcher Prize is awarded to a young researcher under the age of 40 who is involved in innovative patient-oriented research in diabetes and/or its complications. Raising awareness and improving the lives of people with diabetes is a continuing work and in IDF Europe we believe recognizing every step forward in the field is a gain for the whole diabetes community.

    “Research always requires new talents and it is what the Young Researcher Prize seeks to acknowledge. The major contribution of Pr Dr Heni to apprehend the effect of Insulin on the brain is of importance to understand long-term consequences of diabetes (in particular cognitive decline) and the development of multi-morbidities .This prize is also a special one to us because it comes from a jury of researchers but also from patients. We are proud to support this initiative illustrating Air Liquide Healthcare commitment to patients suffering from diabetes.” Muriel Doucet, Communication and Public Affairs Director at Air Liquide Healthcare.

    At his 37 years old, Pr Dr Heni already published his work in more than 98 original articles and around 30 high-ranking international journals. He is a passionate researcher always willing to share the enriching outcomes science can bring to people living with diabetes. After the ceremony, we had the opportunity to talk to him:


    Dr Martin Heni

    Pr Dr Martin Heni receives the prize from Air Liquide Healthcare representative, Communication Director Muriel Doucet.

    You have just won the IDF Europe Young Researcher Prize by Air Liquide after receiving many others such as the German Diabetes Association (DDG) and the European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) ones. What makes winning IDF Europe prize different? What does it mean for you?

    I am very grateful to receive this prestigious price of the IDF Europe. For me, IDF was always very special as it is a worldwide community. I really appreciate that patients have a strong voice at IDF, something that is sometimes missing at other diabetes organizations.

    However, patient care is still not optimal in many places and I learned that there is a lot to do to further improve prevention, treatment and screening for complications in diabetes.

    You are specialized in diabetology and endocrinology. Why did you decided to specialize on those subjects?
    I became interested in endocrinology quite early and during my internal medicine rotations in medical school, I understood that diabetes is a very important part of endocrinology. Medical care for patients with diabetes requires a lot of knowledge of different fields of medicine, way beyond internal medicine. Already back then, I realized that good medical treatment could dramatically improve the lives of patients with diabetes.

    One the your main subjects of study are related to the hormone insulin and type 2 diabetes? Why did you decide to focus on those particular topics?
    During my doctoral thesis time at the department for Endocrinology and Diabetology in Tübingen (Germany), I got in contact with excellent researchers who investigated the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. I learned that type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance are incompletely understood and I felt addressing this issue could improve prevention and type 2 treatments, not yet sufficient for everyone.

    Eventually, I mainly focused on the brain and the effect that insulin has on it. I and other colleagues discovered that insulin action in the brain is crucial for the regulation of food intake and body weight, as well as for the modulation of whole body glucose metabolism.

    Do you think Diabetes, as a condition affecting 60 million people in the European region, should be addressed through policy lines at EU level? What do you think about the current European health policies regarding diabetes?
    This is absolutely necessary and I feel that much more work is needed at the EU level. Although a lot has been accomplished over the past few years, we still do not have national diabetes strategies in each European country. The cooperation and harmonization of diabetes strategies across European countries needs to be intensified in the future.

    As I am not only a clinician, but also a researcher, I am aware of limitations in the European funding policy when it comes to diabetes, especially regarding clinical research projects funding opportunities, which are limited and most of them are targeted towards other disease areas like cancer.

    I thus feel that collaboration efforts must urgently be intensified and translational approaches should be strengthened.

    What do you think should be the role diabetes associations around Europe must play on diabetes?
    I think diabetes associations across Europe are the best way to bring together all major stakeholders at a European level, including physicians, patients, research organizations and pharmaceutical companies. This can foster cooperation, innovation, and translation to reduce the burden of diabetes and improve the outcomes in patients with diabetes.

    Finally, what are your next plans on the field of diabetes?
    One current major focus is the communication between various metabolically important organs, including the brain. This will help to better understand sub-phenotypes in diabetes, i.e. there are patients who will not develop any complications beside long-standing diabetes, while others develop complications quite early. If we learn what determines these differences we will ultimately be able to predict the course of diabetes and individualize treatment, based on the patients risk profile. The goal of this is to improve each patient’s quality of life and reduce the numbers of complications in diabetes.

    Learn more on his research here

    Thanks to Air Liquide Healthcare for supporting IDF Europe Young Researcher Prize.

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