Diabetes Challenge

Diabetes Challenge

The educational activities of DDA have been well attended over the years and achieved excellent evaluation. However, there is a continual need for improvement.

  1. Raising the standard of DDA's educational activities
  2. Challenge-driven learning
  3. Diabetes Challenge 2017
  4. The four learning phases
  5. Recordings of the diabetes challenge solution pitches
  6. Evaluation and full report


Through empirical observations at a number of PhD courses and through dialogues with DDA funded researchers and DDA’s collaborative partners it was highlighted that DDA did not reach the full potential of its educational activities for young researchers.

The following points were raised in relation to DDA’s educational activities:

  • Reduce one-way communication (speaker time)
  • Promote multidisciplinary collaboration between participants on courses
  • Implement new pedagogical approaches
  • Expand the use of relevant technologies and communication platforms on the courses
  • Implement blended learning methods, a mix of online and in-person learning
  • Implement a challenge-based learning method


Experience from earlier academies suggests that there is potential to improve learning outcomes by moving from an emphasis on traditional lecture-based instruction formats to more interactive learning designs. The key purpose of the Diabetes Challenge concept, initiated by Henning Beck-Nielsen, and developed by WElearn, is to create an interdisciplinary learning context with active and deep learning – where basic researchers and clinical researchers cooperate and as a result hopefully come up with ideas to help patients getting a better life with diabetes. 

The ‘Diabetes Challenge’concept is based around three strategic words: Learn, Collaborate and Create.

As a contrast to traditional learning activities with a preponderance of one-way communication, the Diabetes Challenge concept will, through a combination of clear goals, strong feedback and rewards, facilitate creativity, collaboration across disciplines and learning.

Diabetes Challenge 2017

For the Winter School in Malaga, 20-23 March 2017, all participants were invited to take part in the Diabetes Challenge 2017, which was the beginning of the pilot test of this challenge-driven concept. To manage the process around the pilot test, a working party was set up consisting of the Managing Director and Education Manager of DDA, and the CEO of WElearn.

In order to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and national and international networking, the Winter School participants were divided into groups according to gender, educational background, and affiliation. To manage the process in the groups going forward, the working party appointed a chairman in each group. This chairman was the organizing committee’s contact person and was responsible for the group tasks being solved.

Watch the full story of the pilot phase before, during and after Malaga documented in the following video:

The challenge was based on two individual tracks on respectively Precision Medicine and Diabetes Epidemiology presented by Professor Paul Franks and Professor Daniel Witte, who guided the participants through the challenge step by step via video introductions, Skype meetings and e-mail correspondance.

The two professors’ challenges were first described briefly in a short video sequence, and then followed up with a longer on-boarding video acquainting participants with the background, potential solutions and prospects of the challenge.

Daniel Witte, Diabetes Epidemiology

Challenge video
On-boarding video 

Paul Franks, Precision Medicine

Challenge video  
On-boarding video 

The four learning phases

In relation to the challenges set, the challenge-driven concept includes four learning phases that participants should work through in interdisciplinary group work before, during and after the Winter School in Malaga.

The four learning phases:

  1. Discover opportunities to solve an important problem in diabetes research and discover new, important learning in an interdisciplinary team
  2. Define a solution to the problem with other young researchers
  3. Develop a creative solution to the challenge
  4. Validate their solution with leading scholars and peers

The solution of the challenges should be premised on the follwing seven points:

  1. The solution is original and represents ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking
  2. The solution improves patients’/ the population’s quality of life
  3. The solution is intuitive and easy to understand and use
  4. The solution can be tested in a simple way
  5. The solution is cost effective
  6. The solution has taken ethical, legal and regulatory barriers into consideration
  7. The solution strikes a good balance between the burden it imposes on people and the 
benefit it gives them

Recordings of the Diabetes Challenge solution pitches

Team 1: Adam Hulman, Andraea Van Hulst, Camilla Maria Mandrup, Florence Figeac
Winners of the 'Most Promising Team' award


Team 2: Ulla Kampmann Opstrup,Romy Gaillard, Anant Mamidi, Cecilia Ratner

Team 3: Mette Andersen, Pernille Falberg Rønn, Sebastian Hörber, Theresia Schnurr

Team 4: Kasper Olesen, Pernille Mogensen, Anne Mette Lund Würtz, Eleonora Galosi
Winners of the 'Best Idea' award within Paul Frank's Precision Medicine challenge

Team #4 from Danish Diabetes Academy on Vimeo.

Team 5: Yuvaraj Mahendran, Seyed Mojtaba Ghiasi, Li Chen, Juliane Czezor

Team 6: Pall karlsson, Tulika Arora, Marie Aare Bentsen
Winners of the 'Most Visionary Solution' award within Paul Frank's Precision Medicine challenge

Team 7: Ajenthen Ranjan, Clemens Wittenbecher, Astrid Linde Basse, Julie Courraud

Team 8: Dror Sever, Julie T. Kloppenborg, Karina Banasik, Karolina Sulek

Team 9: Nikolay Oskolkov, Michaela Tencerova, Roldan Medina De Guia, Lise G Bjerregaard

Team 10: Elahu Sustarsic, Juan De Toro Martin, Pedram Shokouh, Venessa Pellegrinelli
Winners of the 'Most Visionary Solution' award within Daniel Witte's Diabetes Epidemiology challenge

Team 11: Signe Schmidt, Kaja Plucinska, Petr Zouhar, Rhianna Che Laker

Team 12: Rasmus Ribel, Maria Keller, Maria Hauge, Laura Wittemanns

Team 13: Joan Domingo-Espin, Morten Dall, Louise Grunnet, Karoline Kragelund Nielsen

Team 14: Ekaterina Maslova, Anna Sofie Husted, Laura Dearden
Winners of the 'Best Idea' award within Daniel Witte's Diabetes Epidemiology challenge

Team 15: Kristine Williams, Lola Julie Torz, Linn Gillberg, Howard Carter

Team 17: Yue Ruan, Marcello Ricardo Paulista, Benjamin Jensen, Andrea Sullen

The challenge-driven concept itself contains eight specific steps that participants had to work through before, during and after the Malaga Winter School. These eight steps are illustrated below:

Danish Diabetes Academy challenge concept

Evaluation and full report

Winter School participants were subsequently invited to evaluate the Winter School with a view to refining the process. Read the full report about the challenge concept below, including results from the evaluation:

The report will soon be uploaded here