Adam Hulman receives DDA-Funded Scientist Award 2018
Is it possible to be a trained mathematician at 23, making your way in the British financial world, and then to grow into such a major research talent in the field of diabetes as to receive a prize for your achievements 8 years later?
The short answer is yes: Adam Hulman can. The 31-year-old Hungarian-born clinical researcher from Steno Diabetes Center Aarhus has just received this year’s DDA-Funded Scientist Award, which is presented to ’a young researcher who has shown great potential to be a world‐class researcher within his/her field of expertise’. It’s a prize he is thrilled to have won.
‘It is a great honour, both personally and professionally – especially as I came from a different field, mathematics, so I feel this is a great mark of approval for my last 8 years in diabetes research. Purely professionally, too, it is an prestigious prize to get, because the DDA is a big player in the diabetes field in Denmark’, he says.
Adam Hulman’s professional career was not obviously preordained to revolve around diabetes. He had originally trained as a mathematician, and was on a work placement in London when what he calls a chance meeting led to his remarkable change of direction.
‘I bumped into Daniel Witte (Professor of Epidemiology at Aarhus University – ed.) through mutual acquaintances, and I ended up writing my PhD back in Hungary, with him as my supervisor. Later on, when he became a professor at Aarhus University and had a postdoc position available, I applied for it’, Adam Hulman recalls.
Even while still studying mathematics, Adam Hulman knew that he did not want to devote himself exclusively to theory. He wanted to turn theory into practice and to be a link between the two worlds – to play midfield, as he puts it. And, with his predilection for statistics and data analysis, this was also his way in to diabetes research.
‘In the beginning, I concentrated on the mathematical aspects and on helping others to get the mathematical calculations right. Over the years, though, as I got more and more experienced, I started to launch my own projects. But, even though I’m now a clinical researcher at SDCA, my analytical approach, a critical attitude to methods, is still a big part of me, so nowadays I can take on the role of an analyst while also being the one who leads and establishes new collaborations’, says Adam Hulman.
The 31-year-old diabetes researcher always has many new projects on the go. Earlier this year, he had an article published in Diabetes Care after he and his team had developed an online application which can help diabetes researchers estimate glucose response patterns in their cohorts. The application has already been well received, with over 247 users from 35 different countries. Shortly afterwards, he was interviewed for Dagens Medicin about another study he had carried out, showing that, although being overweight is associated with one’s glucose pattern, there is no association between the response pattern during a glucose tolerance test and one’s genetic predisposition to obesity. One of the projects he is working on at the moment is looking at differences in the weight development of children of parents with or without type 2 diabetes.
Adam Hulman admits he has a job that he never quite clocks off from. He often reads and answers emails late into the evening, and he believes that good ideas do not necessarily come when you are in front of the computer. They can just as well occur to you on the bus home after work.
There is more to Adam Hulman’s life than work, though. He has made a decision to pursue a good work/life balance and not work round the clock as he did, for example, during a spell doing research in Canada. This makes time for him to be with his Danish partner and to play squash at competition level – when not prevented by injury as he is at the moment.
‘I believe you are also more productive at work if you make sure you have a good balance between work and leisure. I also make sure to go home and see my parents in Hungary at least five or six times a year. That is important to me, too’, says Adam Hulman, who gives a tentative indication of what the 25,000 kroner may be used for.
‘Next year, I want to go to the ADA in San Francisco. That is work-related, of course, but then it might be an idea to go on from there and travel along the west coast of the USA. I’d really like to do that’, he says.