Dr. Maike Sander is the Director of the Pediatric Diabetes Research Center and Co-Director of the Center on Diabetes in the Institute of Engineering in Medicine at UC San Diego. She is also a Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Cellular & Molecular Medicine at UC San Diego. Her primary research interest is to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie the formation and function of the diverse cell types of the pancreas, in particular the insulin-producing beta cells. A recent major focus has been to establish a human pluripotent stem cell-based pancreatic beta cell differentiation platform to model mechanisms that underlie the pathogenesis of diabetes.
Please close your eyes and think about your research project. What do you see at first?
Having a lively discussion with brilliant trainees and collaborators.
How would you explain your research to a child?
It’s like a puzzle where the joy is derived from connecting the pieces.
What is it that surprises people when you tell them about your research?
That I am not the one who is in the lab doing experiments (I don’t anymore).
With whom would you like to swap your workplace for one day? What would you do?
If it is for just one day, maybe with a professional athlete. Train, eat, sleep, and repeat. The singular focus would be nice for a day.
Is there any rather unusual hobby or talent you might want to share with us?
I raced bicycles and made the podium in the US Masters National Championships.
What did your research teach you about life?
It’s not all about the prize but about the joy you derive from the process.
What would your job be, if not a scientist?
I always wanted to do something where I connect with people across the world. Being an ambassador or work as a journalist reporting on different countries would be exiting.
Which place in Berlin do you like the most, and why?
Mitte, because it is international and feels forward-looking.
Is there anything about Berlin that you didn’t expect at all? And/or something that you miss here? What makes Berlin special for your research?
I like that Berlin is constantly changing. For research, the expertise and infrastructure that exists across universities and institutes within Berlin is outstanding. Further integration is a tremendous opportunity.