May 26, 2021

Ambitious researchers will discover new opportunities for disease prevention and treatment

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded DKK 59.9 million to six professors who will investigate new opportunities to prevent and treat severe COVID-19, osteoporosis, hypertension and other diseases. The grants are part of the Foundation’s major Research Leader Programme.

Is life-threatening COVID-19 caused by rare defects in genes? Professor Trine Mogensen from Aarhus University will try to answer this question by genetically analysing patients with severe COVID-19. The results of the research may help to develop genetic tests that can identify healthy individuals and patients at increased risk of developing severe COVID-19.

Trine Mogensen is one of the six professors at universities and hospitals in Denmark and Sweden who have received grants under the Novo Nordisk Foundation Research Leader Programme for major in-depth research projects within medicine and biomedicine.

Another grant recipient, Professor Moustapha Kassem from Odense University Hospital, will examine why the incidence of osteoporosis increases with age. The aim of the research is to determine which factors related to ageing cause osteoporosis and to investigate the effects of drugs that kill “aged cells” in bone and whether these drugs can be used as a new therapy for osteoporosis.

In a third project, Professor Robert Fenton from Aarhus University will attempt to uncover the underlying causes of most types of hypertension by examining how the kidneys handle alterations in potassium levels caused by dietary changes and how this modulates blood pressure. The results may potentially uncover new therapeutic targets to control or even prevent hypertension.

The Foundation has awarded DKK 59.9 million for the six projects under the Distinguished Investigator category that targets professors of high international standing and calibre. The grants are awarded over 5 years.

“These are six ambitious projects that can help to pave the way for new opportunities to prevent and treat several diseases. Following the results produced by these experienced researchers will be very exciting,“ says Niels-Henrik von Holstein-Rathlou, Senior Vice President, Biomedicine & Health Sciences, Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Recipients of the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s 2021 Distinguished Investigator grants

Anja Groth, Professor, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, University of Copenhagen: Histone Modifications in Epigenetic Cell Memory: Inheritance and Function, DKK 9,990,127

Charlotte Ling, Professor, Department of Clinical Sciences, Malmö, Lund University: Pancreatic Islet Dysfunction and Epigenetic Modifications in Type 2 Diabetes, DKK 10,000,000

Inge Marie Svane, Professor, National Center for Cancer Immune Therapy, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital: Progress in Cancer Immunotherapy by Refined Management of Immune-related Toxicity and Improved Fitness of Adoptive T-cell Therapy, DKK 9,987,500

Moustapha Kassem, Professor, Department of Endocrinology, Odense University Hospital: Targeting Cellular Senescence to Improve Skeletal Health in Elderly Patients with Osteoporosis, DKK 9,951,443

Robert Fenton, Professor, Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University: Potassium-mediated Signalling in the Pathogenesis and Treatment of Hypertension, DKK 9,991,361

Trine Mogensen, Professor, Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University: Exploring the Role of Host Immunogenetics in Susceptibility to Severe COVID-19 to Identify Novel Targets for Disease Prevention and Treatment, DKK 9,997,850

Part of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Research Leader Programme

The grants for the six projects are part of the Foundation’s Research Leader Programme, which targets research leaders at three different career stages.

Emerging Investigator. Upcoming and promising researchers who want to establish or are in the process of establishing their own research group and research profile.

Ascending Investigator. Talented research leaders at the associate professor level in the process of consolidating their research group and profile.

Distinguished Investigator. Professors of high international standing and calibre.

Read more about the Programme and the grant recipients here.

Further information

Sabina Askholm Larsen, Communications Partner, +45 2367 3226,