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Lundbeck foundation awards grants worth dkk 57 million to bold projects

LUNDBECK FOUNDATION AWARDS GRANTS WORTH DKK 57 MILLION TO BOLD PROJECTS WITH THE POTENTIAL TO PRODUCE NEW KNOWLEDGE IN THE FIELD OF NEUROSCIENCE

The brains behind the projects are 29 researchers associated with universities and hospitals in Denmark. They are being funded by the Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research programme.

 

(The 29 researchers who are being funded by the LF Experiments programme in 2020)

 

It is easy simply to write off an audacious idea that differs dramatically from conventional views, for instance by terming it “completely unrealistic” or “downright ludicrous”, or even by demeaning it: “Come on! That’s just not feasible”.

However, such arrogance can backfire. What if – despite its unorthodox nature – the idea subsequently proves to be spot on?

The Lundbeck Foundation is very careful to avoid knee-jerk reactions and simply turn down bold ideas. For the same reason, the Foundation has established the LF Experiments research programme.

This programme recently awarded its 2020 grants, to the tune of DKK 57 million.
The money goes to 29 researchers at Danish universities and hospitals, each receiving around DKK 2 million to be paid out over two years.

The grants enable recipients to work on the audacious hypotheses they wish to test – either to produce new basic science or to develop new therapies for the benefit of neuroscience now or in the longer term.
And the research projects of the 2020 recipients of the LF Experiments grants cover a broad range of topics: from the study of oxygen flow to light-sensitive cells in the eye to development of new methods for analysing tissue and proteins.

Jan Egebjerg, Director of Research at the Lundbeck Foundation, explains that the projects which receive LF Experiments funding can be classed as high-risk projects.

‘So, these are projects that very often fail to produce the outcomes the researcher had originally expected – but we’re willing to take this risk. If only a few of these projects succeed, we may end up with ground-breaking new knowledge with the potential to broaden our understanding of the field of neuroscience,’ says Jan Egebjerg.

The 29 researchers who have received funding – 11 women and 18 men – are all associated with a Danish university or hospital, and they hold at least a PhD in their research field.
They were selected from 200 applications (62 from women and 138 from men).

In addition to its risk appetite – the hallmark of LF Experiments – the programme has a unique selection procedure. Jan Egebjerg explains that this differs in many ways from the usual review process for research grants:

‘To begin with, the applications are reviewed anonymously. Reviewers only address the actual idea or hypothesis presented by the applicant in their written application. They have no idea who is behind the project, nor are they aware of the applicant’s gender or position. And then, there’s the “decisive votes” system. This is our trump card, and it’s unique to LF Experiments.’

Each reviewer uses this trump card to single out an applicant who, in their opinion, MUST be given funding – regardless of what the other reviewers ultimately think of the project in question. Director of Research Jan Egebjerg explains:

‘Standard procedures, which seek to find consensus, may discard the boldest applications. This trump card gives a chance to the particularly audacious projects – those the reviewers disagree on. Eleven of the 29 projects that ended up receiving funding were actually chosen due to the trump card system.’

 

The 29 grant recipients come from the following universities or hospitals:

  • University of Copenhagen (12).
  • Aarhus University (8).
  • Technical University of Denmark (4).
  • University of Southern Denmark (3).
  • Amager and Hvidovre Hospital (1).
  • Aarhus University Hospital (1).

These 29 researchers received funding through the LF Experiments programme

FROM UNIVERSITY OF COPENHAGEN

ANDREAS TOFT SØRENSEN

Associate professor, Department of Neuroscience, University of Copenhagen, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,990,389. He will use the grant to seek to develop a novel gene therapy to reduce overproduction of the beta-amyloid protein that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

ANNA EBBENSGAARD

Postdoc, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,992,520. The grant will be spent on experiments aimed at expressing peptides and proteins in living bacteria – the overall objective being to combat antibiotic resistance.

CHRISTOPHER KESTEN

Postdoc, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,999,250. The grant will be spent on studies of MAP proteins. These proteins, which are also found in plants, play a key role in the development of the human brain during the foetal stage.

ELAHU SUSTARSIC

Assistant professor, NNF Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 2,000,000. The grant will be used to study the effect of self-renewal of stem cells in the hypothalamus.

HANS BRÄUNER-OSBORNE

Professor, Department of Molecular Drug Research, University of Copenhagen, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,973,409. He will spend the grant on investigating the potential for using a calcium-sensitive receptor in the fight against brain cancer.

ILLARY ALLODI

Assistant professor, Department of Neuroscience, University of Copenhagen, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,999,987. The grant will be spent on studying the potential for using gene therapy to mediate interactions between spinal cord cells and motor neurons– the aim being to slow down the degeneration associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

MIN ZHANG

Postdoc, Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,816,981. The grant will be spent on studies of the coagulation of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, among others.

NINNA ROSSEN

Assistant professor, Biotech Research and Innovation Centre (BRIC), University of Copenhagen, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 2,000,000. The grant will be spent on designing a cell model to broaden our understanding of drug delivery into the brain.

PETER ALDISS

Assistant professor, NNF Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,993,599. He will spend the grant on developing a treatment for obesity, based on knowledge of the genes that regulate it.

PONTUS GOURDON

Associate professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,890,000. The grant will be used to study proteins in the brain using sophisticated electron microscopy.

RUNE BERG

Associate professor, Department of Neuroscience, University of Copenhagen, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 2,000,000. The grant will be used to investigate nerve activity in the spinal cord during sleep.

SOPHIA JULIA HÄFNER

Assistant professor, Biotech Research and Innovation Centre (BRIC), University of Copenhagen, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,984,047. The grant will be used to investigate factors that control the genes regulating brain development in the foetal stage.

FROM AARHUS UNIVERSITY

ANDRII BUGAI

Postdoc, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,929,936. The grant will be spent on measuring and recording activity between proteins that help regulate human genes. A high-frequency laser technique will be used for the study.

 

ANNA STARNAWSKA

Postdoc, Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,936,000. The grant will be used to investigate potential therapeutic effects of manipulating genes that play a role in mental illness.

BIRGIT SCHIØTT

Professor, Department of Chemistry, Aarhus University, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,998,294. The grant will be spent on researching how molecules and ions permeate membranes. Among other things, this has implications for drug delivery to cells.

BRIGITTE STADLER

Assistant professor, iNANO, Aarhus University, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,786,369. The grant will be spent on investigating how we can transfer nanoparticles across the blood-brain barrier.

CHRISTIAN DAMSGAARD

Assistant professor, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus University, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,998,986. The grant will be spent on studying how we ensure adequate oxygen flow to the light-sensitive cells in the eye.

HANNE POULSEN

Postdoc, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 2,000,000. The grant will be used to study protein activity associated with communication between neurons.

 

JULIÁN VALERO MORENO

Assistant professor, Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center, Aarhus University, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments grant worth DKK 1,999,980. The grant will be spent on developing novel molecules for diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

SØREN LYKKE-ANDERSEN

Senior research scientist, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,999,371. The grant will be spent on developing methods for rectifying pathogenic genetic defects.

FROM AARHUS UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL

HATICE TANKISI

Consultant in clinical neurophysiology, PhD, Aarhus University Hospital, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,951,000. The grant will be used to investigate hypotheses on where the neurodegenerative disease ALS originates – peripherally, in the central nervous system, or in the brain?

FROM UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN DENMARK

CHENGUANG LOU

Associate professor, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy, University of Southern Denmark, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,999,800. The grant will be used to explore ways of optimising the study of the misfolded proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

FRANK KJELDSEN

Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern Denmark, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,977,000. The grant will be used to seek to develop a method for using machine learning to study large volumes of proteins that help maintain complex brain processes.

STEFAN VOGEL

Associate professor, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy, University of Southern Denmark, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,911,800. The grant will be spent on developing a method for correcting genetic defects in connection with disease.

FROM TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF DENMARK (DTU)

CHRISTIAN PEDERSEN

Professor, DTU Photonics, Technical University of Denmark, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,995,941. The grant will be used to develop a novel infrared method for analysing biological tissue – with a view to investigating how medicines can have a negative impact on our metabolism.

JENS BÆK SIMONSEN

Associate professor, Health Technology, Technical University of Denmark, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 2,000,000. The grant will be spent on seeking to design a system for analysis of biological nanoparticles – to develop improved diagnostic methods.

KATRINE QVORTRUP

Assistant professor, Department of Chemistry, Technical University of Denmark, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,971,400. The grant will be used to develop new methods for drug delivery to the brain to combat brain disorders.

 

YAZHOU WANG

Postdoc, DTU Photonics, Technical University of Denmark, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,919,998. The grant will be spent on developing a new method for studying neurons in the brain.

FROM AMAGER AND HVIDOVRE HOSPITAL

LEO TOMASEVIC

Postdoc, Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance, Amager and Hvidovre Hospital, has been awarded a Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research grant worth DKK 1,808,100. The grant will be spent on studies of key brain functions. In these studies, the brains of the trial subjects are stimulated magnetically during a brain scan.

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