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"Freedom to Discover Grant" awarded to Springer author by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation


17 May 2006

Munich-based medical scientist and nutrition expert receives US $500,000 for future research.

Heidelberg, - Berthold Koletzko, head of the Division of Metabolic Diseases and Nutritional Medicine at Munich University’s Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital, has been awarded a research grant worth US $500,000 by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation in New York for his interdisciplinary nutrition research. Professor Koletzko and his colleagues are looking at how nutrition during pregnancy and infancy relates to overweight, diabetes, allergies and mental performance in adults.

Koletzko and his research group in Munich are seeking to identify risk factors for the development of obesity, among other things. A number of individual factors, such as genetic disposition, influences in early childhood, cultural traditions and social status, affect the risk of being overweight as a child and later as an adult. “Our studies revealed that the frequency of overweight was 25 percent lower among schoolchildren who were breastfed after birth,” Professor Koletzko explained. More than 1,000 children in five European countries are now to be observed from birth until school age in a large-scale study led by Koletzko to clarify the causes. “The grant linked to this award will allow us to intensify our studies on the long-term effects that nutrition in early childhood has on the risk of developing chronic illnesses in later life,” said Koletzko. “We hope that our results will reveal ways of improving prevention.”

Berthold Koletzko studied medicine at the University of Münster in Germany. He subsequently worked in medicine in South Africa, Tanzania and at the universities of Düsseldorf (Germany) and Toronto (Canada), among other places, before becoming a professor at Munich University in 1992. In addition to his research work, Koletzko also supports preventive measures to promote physical and mental health in children, including the Child Health Foundation set up by Koletzko himself and the PowerKids program, which is geared to overweight children between the ages of 8 and 12. Professor Koletzko is editor of Springer’s pediatric textbook Kinderheilkunde und Jugendmedizin, which is now in its 12th edition. He has also published numerous papers in the Springer monthly pediatrics journal Monatsschrift Kinderheilkunde.

The grant is provided by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation in New York. As a grant recipient, Berthold Koletzko is free to decide how he wishes to use the money for his research within the next five years. He is the only German among the 12 scientists awarded grants worldwide this year. A total of US $6 million has been awarded to promote research in the field of biomedicine. The grants are awarded each year in various different categories, including research on cancer, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, and nutrition.


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