Jacob Eifer Møller

Jacob Eifer Møller says: “In Denmark, almost 10.000 individuals annually suffer from a heart attack. In 5-10% of the patients, the damage to the heart is so extensive that the heart will not pump enough blood to meet the body’s requirement for oxygen and shock will develop. This condition is called cardiogenic shock. It seems intuitive beneficial to place a device that can pump blood to failing organs when the heart cannot. However, this treatment called mechanical circulatory support (MCS) is costly and associated with risk of serious complications, and evidence to guide choice of treatment is poor. The main objectives of this study are to improve the understanding of the use and consequence of advanced MCS, to improve patient selection for MCS and to assess the most beneficial way to apply this hyperinvasive treatment. This will be pursued through translational research, retrospective data studies with individual validation of data, and through a randomized clinical study.”

Jacob Eifer Møller is Professor at Department of Cardiology Odense University Hospital and University of Southern Denmark and Consultant at the Heart Center, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, Rigshospitalet.

Vibeke Hjortdal

Vibeke Hjortdal says: “Congenital Heart Diseases are treated with good short-term outcome. Unfortunately, serious complications are seen when they get older. Fluid is filtered out of the blood circulation for the exchange of nutrients and waste products in the microcirculation. Lymphatic vessels transport 8 l of fluid back to the blood every day. Dysfunction results in fluid accumulation as seen in heart failure and edema and protein rich fluid may be lost in the gut or cause breathing problems in the airways. The lives of patients are troublesome and shorter. This project will identify how respiration and exercise can improve the lymphatic function and which medication can improve the lymphatic transport function. The brain is vulnerable in some patients with congenital heart diseases, and they experience psychiatric problems. This project will identify the type of psychiatric problems and in which types of heart diseases the problems are most pronounced and best helped.”

Vibeke Hjortdal is Consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Rigshospitalet and Professor at Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Copenhagen.

Marco Donia

Marco Donia says: “Immunotherapy works by re-activating the body’s immune system to recognize and eliminate cancer. Some patients with advanced cancers, including melanoma, lung, and renal cancer, can be cured by current immunotherapies. However, most patients whose cancers initially regress after immunotherapy become resistant and grow back again. The determinants leading to this “acquired resistance to immunotherapy (ARI)” are unknown. Consequently, there is no curative treatment for patients who develop ARI. This project will pinpoint the genes and molecules responsible for ARI. Based on clinical data, we will generate complex high-throughput preclinical models to reproduce and study the molecular determinants behind immune evasion. These models will then be used to test therapeutic strategies against resistant cancers. These works will pave the way for new potential treatments for patients with ARI.”

Marco Donia is Staff Oncologist at the Department of Oncology, National Center for Cancer Immune Therapy (CCIT-DK), Copenhagen University Hospital (Herlev and Gentofte), and Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Copenhagen, since 2017.

Anne Skakkebæk

Anne Skakkebæk says: “Sex chromosome aneuploidies (SCAs) are conditions where females or males have an abnormal number of sex chromosomes, like Turner syndrome (45,X) and Klinefelter syndrome (47,XXY). Patients with SCAs suffers from a range of diseases (congenital malformations, infertility, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, psychiatric diseases). The fetal period and early childhood are critical periods with complex mechanisms regulating the activity of our genes being founded. These mechanisms have profound impact on health and disease. Our hypothesis is that altered dosage of sex chromosomes disrupt these mechanisms in the fetus and child with SCA, leading to the increased disease burden thorough out life. We will examine these mechanisms in tissues from aborted fetuses with SCAs, and in tissue samples from children with SCAs and control fetuses and control children. In addition, we will measure health outcome and other clinical measurements of the fetuses and children to answering the fundamental biological question how altered sex chromosome number leads to an increased diseases burden in SCAs.”

Anne Skakkebæk is medical geneticist at the Department of Clinical Genetics, Aarhus University Hospital, and Clinical Associate Professor at Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, since 2021.

Astrid Juhl Terkelsen

Astrid Juhl Terkelsen says: “Parkinson’s disease (PD) is common, disabling and caused by neuronal death due to neurotoxic deposition of a protein, α-synuclein in the central and peripheral nervous system. Accumulating evidence suggest early involvement and spread of α-synuclein via the peripheral to the central nervous system. We present a model of very early PD confined to the peripheral nerves thus preparing for disease-modifying treatments earlier than hitherto possible before damage to central neural structures. These early PD patients are found by screening neuropathy patients for abnormal blood pressure regulation and for damage to the nerves innervating the heart which is early signs of PD. We will describe the patients in detail by looking at α-synuclein in skin, measure the function of the peripheral nervous system with various sophisticated tests and follows the patients for five years to detect both PD and related diseases. Furthermore, we will build a biobank on blood, skin and spinal fluid to define risk factors for developing PD.”

Astrid Juhl Terkelsen is Consultant at the Department of Neurology, Aarhus University Hospital, neuromuscular division and head of the Autonomic laboratory evaluating, diagnosing and treating high specialized patients with autonomic neuropathies. Astrid Juhl Terkelsen has been Associate Professor at Department of Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University since 2016.

Bo Gregers Winkel

Bo Gregers Winkel says: “Each year in Denmark, 5,000 individuals suffer a cardiac arrest (CA). Presently up to 16% of the individuals survive. This project aims to identify causes and risk factors of ventricular arrhythmias, improve treatment, and strengthen rehabilitation of CA survivors. Three large randomized trials will be conducted: 1) the RIME-IVF trial will investigate the effect of adding medical treatment in unexplained cardiac arrest survivors, 2) the ATP trial will examine how implantable cardioverter defibrillators best treat ventricular arrhythmias, 3) the ROCK trial will investigate how to best rehabilitate CA survivors, to effectively return to their work and life after the CA. Additionally, the project collects data on all SCD cases and CA survivors to increase knowledge of the causes of SCD, to construct a risk prediction model to optimize treatment, and to offer preventive care to the families.”

Bo Gregers Winkel is consultant cardiologist in non-invasive electrophysiology at Department of Cardiology, Rigshospitalet – specialized in inherited cardiac diseases and cardiac arrest survivors.

Nikolai Albert

Nikolai Albert says: “Persons diagnosed with schizophrenia can go for months, and even years, experiencing hallucinations and delusions before they receive treatment. The duration of this period is associated with how well the patients later recover from their illness. Currently there is no agreement on an effective method to reduce the period of untreated psychosis. Denmark is in a unique position to test if campaign-backed early detection teams can lead to more promptly treatment as region Zealand, as the only region in Denmark, has used the model for 10 years. We will include patients with schizophrenia from region Zealand and the Capital Region, to test if the intervention is effective in reducing the duration of untreated psychosis, and further if this reduction impacts the two-year functional outcome. If successful the model can be exported to alle Danish regions, and lead to improved treatment for schizophrenia both nationally and internationally.”

Nikolai Albert has a longstanding interest in schizophrenia and related disorders and is currently doing his specialist training at Mental Health Center Amager to become a psychiatrist. He further says: “The Clinical Emerging Investigator Fellowship from the Novo Nordisk Foundation will be instrumental in establishing myself as research leader within the field of early intervention in psychosis”.

Lauge Østergaard

Lauge Østergaard says: “One of the main heart valves is the mitral valve and dysfunction of this may lead to symptoms as shortness of breath and fatigue leading to hospitalization and increased risk of death. The only treatment option at the moment is surgical. Although frequent and potentially lethal, guidelines on the treatment of this disease need data from well-validated, large cohorts. Building a database with detailed descriptions of patients with this disease and linking this database to the unique Danish health care registries could help in the understanding of when the patient should be offered surgery. Further, this project will set the ground for the examination of a medical treatment option for the improvement of the prognosis. If successful, the project will allow the first ever medical strategy for improving prognosis in patients with severe mitral regurgitation.”

Lauge Østergaard has a particular interest in mitral valve disease and is currently doing his specialist training in cardiology at Department of Cardiology, Bispebjerg-Frederiksberg Hospital. He says: “The Clinical Emerging Investigator grant will permit me to combine my clinical and research training and allow me to establish my own research group within the field with the overall aim to establish better treatment options for the many patients with mitral valve disease.”

Mette Julsgaard

Mette Julsgaard says: “Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are chronic conditions of the gastrointestinal tract that are diagnosed in the fertile age. Immunosuppressive drugs are used to induce remission, also in pregnancy, but may also have negative effects on fetal outcome. Pregnancy requires increased iron for fetal development. IBD itself may negatively impact iron availability but its influence on neonatal outcomes and development is unknown. The aim is to study the safety of immunosuppressive drug exposure in pregnancy on the fetus, and the impact of potential iron restriction on neonatal outcomes and development. By analyzing nationwide registers, neonatal dried blood spots, prospective collecting maternal and infant blood samples, and conducting patients surveys the project will answer fundamental questions, which will lead to improved care of women with IBD and other autoimmune disorders. Overall, it may improve maternal- and fetal outcome by influencing the management of iron disorders in pregnancy.”

Mette Julsgaard has the last 15 years focused her research on investigating treatment of pregnant inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients and outcomes in their offspring. She is currently doing her specialist training in Gastroenterology & Hepatology at the Dept. of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, at Aarhus University Hospital. She further states: “This funding will permit me to increase my research efforts and allow me to establish a research group. Moreover, it will lay the foundation for a National Danish IBD Preconception and Pregnancy Planning Clinic at Aarhus University Hospital, which is crucial in providing the best possible evidence-based treatment and equal care for pregnant IBD patients in Denmark.”

Nikolaj Fibiger Rittig

Nikolaj Fibiger Rittig says: “The gut plays an important role for metabolic health and appetite regulation. We will explore how different compounds affect the gut and regulates metabolism and appetite (the gut-brain-appetite axis). Lactate is particularly high in fermented food products and we have recently shown that lactate stimulates gastrointestinal hormone secretion, and slows gastric emptying. Lactate is also produced and converted into the metabolite N-lactoyl-phenylalanine (lac-phe) and studies in mice suggests that lac-phe may induce satiety and weight loss. Butyrate is a small fatty acid mainly produced by bacteria in the colon where it may elevate energy expenditure, improve immune functions, and regulate appetite. The overall aim with this project is to perform a series of human clinical studies that investigate how different compounds (lactate, lac-phe, and butyrate) activate and affect the gut-brain-appetite system”.

Nikolaj Fibiger Rittig has for several years been associated with the Steno Diabetes Center Aarhus, Aarhus University Hospital. He is currently doing his specialist training at Klinik for Hormon og knoglesygdomme at Aarhus University Hospital. He says further: “The Clinical Emerging Investigator fellowship will allow me to build my own research group with focus on gut-brain-appetite regulation, perform research at a high international level and continue my work as combined clinician and researcher”.