Six brain professors receive DKK 232 million

The Lundbeck Foundation is awarding grants worth DKK 232 million to six leading neuroscientists: three at Aarhus University and three at the University of Copenhagen. The LF Professorships programme is the Foundation’s largest grant allocation to date.

We need to move the brain higher up the agenda. This is why the Lundbeck Foundation is awarding grants worth DKK 232 million to six professors who are among Denmark’s leading neuroscientists.

‘The brain is our most complex organ. It essentially controls all of our interactions with our surroundings, and it is also home to our psychological identity. Because the brain is so complex, there are still fundamental holes in our knowledge of how it works and what goes wrong in the case of numerous diseases. So, we’ve decided to make the brain the centrepiece of our Lundbeck Foundation grants,’ says Jan Egebjerg, Director of Research at the Lundbeck Foundation.

‘Brain disorders pose a serious threat, both to the individual and to our national economy – not least, because the global population is getting older. So, it’s important that, as a society, we step up our ambitions, to enable Denmark to develop into one of the world’s leading brain research nations. One of the Lundbeck Foundation’s contributions to this goal is our LF Professorships programme,’ he says.

The aim of the Lundbeck Foundation Professorships programme is to promote development of strong brain research environments, centred on leading, internationally renowned researchers. A Lundbeck Foundation professor is expected to contribute to ground-breaking research. However, their role as a dedicated mentor for the next generation of talented scientists is just as important, as are their efforts to develop these talents.

The six professors are:

Poul Nissen, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics – DANDRITE, Aarhus University
Poul Nissen will investigate the three-dimensional structure and dynamics of specific proteins, from atomic to sub-cellular level. He will analyse and establish models of the protein structures in order to gain an understanding of the basic mechanisms that sustain and organise neurons as well as the connections between them. He will use sophisticated techniques such as cryo-electron microscopy and x-ray crystallography to study a structure in the neurons known as the axonal initial segment. This is where nerve activity is generated, and it is therefore crucial for neuronal signalling.

Jelena Radulovic, Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University
Jelena Radulovic’s research involves sophisticated techniques such as optogenetics and chemogenetics in mouse studies. She seeks to understand the precise molecular mechanisms underlying unpleasant memories and their role in the development of depression. The way in which the brain processes, stores and recalls negative memories is thought to play a significant part in the development of disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress and addiction. In time, her research may lead to the design of new therapies for these disorders.

Messoud Ashina, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Copenhagen and Rigshospitalet, Glostrup
As part of his research, Messoud Ashina will investigate and seek to identify new methods for treating migraine. His studies focus on clinical research, among other things inducing migraine in patients in order to track and understand the processes that trigger an attack. He aims to elucidate the role of neuroinflammation in development of a migraine attack and he will investigate whether activation of a sub-group of potassium channels may form the basis for a new treatment for migraine in the future.

Andreas Kjær, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Copenhagen and Rigshospitalet
Andreas Kjær aims to develop molecules for identification and treatment of glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive type of brain cancer. Once patients have been diagnosed, they have an average survival rate of a little over one year. One of his goals is to develop a better method for localising the cancer cells in the brain so that all of the cancer tissue can be identified and surgically removed. He will also develop a new, radionuclear treatment whereby patients are injected with radioactive isotopes bound to a substance which only binds to cancer cells. The aim is more precise irradiation of cancer cells, resulting in better efficacy and fewer side effects.

Leif Østergaard, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University
Leif Østergaard will study what happens when the smallest blood vessels in the brain, the capillaries, restrict access to oxygen and nutrients, putting brain tissue at risk of infarction due to reduced blood flow. He will use clinical studies and animal trials to identify a potential link between dysfunction in the brain’s capillaries and a range of disorders such as stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

Ole Kiehn, Department of Neuroscience, University of Copenhagen
Ole Kiehn aims to elucidate the circuits and centres in the brain that control the body’s movements. Using sophisticated animal models and techniques, he and his team will map, monitor and manipulate specific neuronal circuits that connect the spinal cord, brain stem and cerebrum. He will attempt to answer one of the fundamental questions in neuroscience: how does the nervous system control contextual complex movement? A greater understanding of how these regions of the brain and spinal cord function may have a significant impact on treatment of diseases which cause us to lose control of our movements, e.g. Parkinson’s disease or spinal cord trauma.

For further details please contact:

Jan Egebjerg, Director of Research at the Lundbeck Foundation, tel. +45 3912 8009 or je@lundbeckfonden.com

Pernille Thorborg Jasper, Media Relations Manager at the Lundbeck Foundation, tel. +45 2118 9132 or ptj@lundbeckfonden.com


Lundbeck Foundation launches large-scale campaign to raise awareness of brain prize
23. February 2021
Grant worth 75 million DKK for neuroscience in Aarhus
9. February 2021
Brain stimulation to relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
25. January 2021


Lundbeckfonden Ventures

Lundbeckfonden Emerge