In Europe, 59 million people have diabetes (1 out of 11 inhabitants) and this will grow to 1 out of 9 in 2045. Every 20 seconds, someone in the world loses a leg because of diabetes. Almost every amputation is preceded by a foot ulcer, the lifetime prevalence of which is 19-34% in people with diabetes. Foot ulcers are the leading cause of hospitalisation, reduced mobility, loss of social participation, and lower quality of life; in fact, people with diabetes may fear loss of a limb more than death. The burden of diabetic foot disease is ranked in the top-10 of all medical conditions. Thus, the prevention of foot ulcers and amputations is crucial. While various general treatment approaches are available and recommended (such as foot screening, patient and family education and protective footwear), the success rate of this approach is still too low. The incidence of foot ulcers, in particular ulcer recurrence, remains high: 40% of patients re-ulcerate within 1 year after healing. These statistics show that we fail to successfully combat diabetic foot disease, as we are not preventing foot ulcers and amputations, and emphasise the urgency and timeliness of DIALECT’s main objective:

To establish an innovative, interdisciplinary and intersectoral research and training effort on diabetic foot disease to deliver the next generation of leading, entrepreneurial, and creative scientists who have the expertise, skills and experience to lead the paradigm shift towards personalised medicine to successfully combat diabetic foot disease and prevent ulcers and amputations.

The reasons we fail to significantly reduce the burden of diabetic foot disease for so many patients and for society at large are knowledge gaps and lack of tools, methods and products to properly identify patients at risk, monitor outcomes, and provide them with personalised, culturally- and gender-appropriate treatments to successfully prevent foot ulcers and amputations. See Aims for further information.