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2016-2017

The Magazine

Novel treatments for concentration difficulties in view

GUT BACTERIA BRAIN PRIZE WINTER DEPRESSION BRAINSTRUC


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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Content

CONTENT Denmark must join the elite of the brain research nations

The answer to tomorrow’s health challenges

News

Danish brain research is on the up We’ll be able to diagnose chronic pain in five years Young scientists are tomorrow’s communicators

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Denmark must engage in world-class R&D

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Changing the guard on The Brain Prize Selection Committee

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Danish cannabis research wins the Junior Brain Prize

The gut and the brain are more connected than we realise. Page 12

Kåre Schultz, CEO of Lundbeck: Our staff are proud to work for a company owned by a foundation. Page 18

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23

Brain researchers from all over the world are following the iPSYCH team and their groundbreaking work to map the causes of psychiatric diseases. Page 40

Visiting Professors: International collaboration on home ground

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“We need to understand the brain’s smallest components”

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Winter time causes more depression

It’s all about intuition

News

Research paves the way for novel treatments for concentration difficulties Half a billion for fellowships

Denmark’s psychiatric research on the world map

24 28

Meet the great Danish scientists

Lundbeckfonden - at a glance

36 38 39 40 44 47


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Editorial

TOMORROW’S PHARMACY IS IN OUR GUT

DENMARK MUST JOIN THE ELITE OF THE BRAIN RESEARCH NATIONS he Lundbeck Foundation is ambitious on behalf of brain research. And we’re not afraid to proclaim that Denmark should be one of the leading nations in this field. The fact that almost one in three Europeans suffer from a psychiatric or neurological disorder not only causes great suffering for patients and their families, it imposes a significant social and economic burden on society. Brain research has great potential, which is why it receives our funding. We donate almost half a billion Danish kroner a year to biomedical sciences research, making us one of the largest research-financed foundations in Denmark – a fact we are proud of. In 2016, our grants increased by 16 per cent to DKK 493 million. This is the second-highest amount in the Foundation’s history, equivalent to the salaries of 718 full-time researchers in Denmark.

Editors Lene Skole (editor-in-chief), Anne-Marie Engel, Michael Friislund, Pernille Thorborg Jasper, Regitze Reeh Design Make® Rights Mechanical, photographic or other reproduction of the Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017, or parts thereof, is permitted with reference to the source. All rights reserved for Lundbeckfonden, Scherfigsvej 7, DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø, phone +45-39128000. www.lundbeckfonden.com CVR no. 11814913

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A report mapping Danish brain research, commissioned by the Lundbeck Foundation and prepared by Aarhus University, indicates great potential for elevating Denmark to the ranks of the world’s leading brain research nations. We wish to contribute to this by earmarking funding for international research partnerships across universities and borders. The Brain Prize and its associated activities play an important role in creating an international network for the benefit of Danish brain research. Denmark will not become the world’s leading brain research nation overnight, but with perseverance and ambitious efforts we have a good chance of joining the elite. And who knows, the Lundbeck Foundation may have the great honour of presenting The Brain Prize to a Danish brain researcher in the not too distant future.

It is crucial to us to make a difference, both for the individual and for society as a whole, by funding Danish-based, biomedical sciences research of the highest quality. Ultimately, we wish to relieve the burden imposed by brain disorders. That is why around half of the Foundation’s grants go to our special focus area – brain health – and why, since 2011, we have awarded our major, international research prize, The Brain Prize, to leading international brain researchers who have all produced ground-breaking results.

Lene Skole CEO Lundbeckfonden


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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 The answer to tomorrow's heath challenges

The answer

to tomorrow’s

health challenges

What will be our biggest health challenges in the future? And how can research help meet them? These were the questions the Lundbeck Foundation asked 50 scientists and experts at a workshop in May 2016 TEXT Michael Friislund PHOTO Thomas Tolstrup


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 The answer to tomorrow's heath challenges

n 2016, the Lundbeck Foundation took a new approach to finding inspiration for ways in which to fund research to help meet some of Denmark’s major health challenges. “We have extremely talented scientists and health experts in this country, but there’s a tendency to move in the same academic circles and talk to the same people. We would like to challenge this ‘silo mentality’. In research, the magic often happens when people who don’t usually talk much to each other strike up a dialogue. So, we decided to hold a full-day workshop and make sure that the particle physicist sat next to the brain researcher,” explains Anne-Marie Engel, Director of Research and Director of the Research Grants Department. For many years, the Lundbeck Foundation has channelled a proportion of its funding into so-called strategic grants – grants for which the Foundation has established a research theme. “We needed more external input to decide where to direct our strategic grants in the coming years. So, why not ask the advice of the researchers and other specialists from the start? As a private foundation, we have a responsibility to engage in dialogue with society. This also enables us to make

Close to 50 academics from all corners of the health and research communities discussed tomorrow's health challenges and potential solutions at the May 2016 workshop. Below Lene Skole in conversation with professor Anders Nykær from Aarhus University.

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“In research, the magic happens when we bring together people who don't usually talk much to each other. So, we decided to hold a workshop and make sure that the particle physicist sat next to the brain researcher.” Anne-Marie Engel Director of Research Lundbeck Foundation

better decisions. In other words – when we have to make clever choices, we should ask the advice of the clever people.” Almost 50 academics from all corners of the research and health community – all with a thirst for debate – accepted the invitation and attended the workshop to give their opinion on what Denmark needs in the way of research and new knowledge if we are to uphold health standards in our welfare society.

THE HEALTHY INDIVIDUAL

It is not very common for Danish foundations to involve the public at such an early stage of the strategic planning of tomorrow’s research funding, and the result was quite unexpected. “We’d actually expected very specific views on potential fields of research for our funding – and, of course, that’s what we got. But what may prove to be even more valuable was the inspiring and relevant debate on what’s needed to improve the way in which research tackles the major health challenges,” says Anne-Marie Engel. Several general issues were raised at the workshop, such as what type of research and academic collaboration we need to arrive at personalised medicines, when an individual can be defined as healthy or ill and by whom, and the progress of patients – not least the chronically ill – through the treatment system.

“Based on the excellent input from the workshop’s debate, we’ve defined two overarching themes: ‘Increased understanding of disease mechanisms and improved prevention of disease’ and ‘Development of new and more precise diagnostics and treatments’. These will form the basis for Lundbeck Foundation strategic grants in coming years. They’ll hopefully help us realise our vision to create better life through new knowledge,” says Anne-Marie Engel. The first call for applications, with a deadline of 1 March 2017, concerned inflammation and the development of central and peripheral nervous system disease

BETTER LIVES THROUGH NEW KNOWLEDGE In the coming years, the Lundbeck Foundation's grants will revolve around the following two themes:

1 Increased understanding of disease mechanisms and improved prevention of disease

2 Development of new and more precise diagnostics and treatment Read more at www.lundbeckfonden.com


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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 News

Take a fascinating journey through the body Blood that squirts. Organs to be reinserted. Viruses to be killed. A visit to the reopened science centre Experimentarium and its new exhibition – Under the Skin – is never boring! The Lundbeck Foundation has granted almost DKK 13.4 million to the exhibition, which joins the Experimentarium’s permanent exhibits. It takes us on a gripping journey of discovery through the body. Fun and instructive experiments teach us what goes on under the skin – in cells, blood stream, muscles, skeleton and brain. Drop in to the Experimentarium if you get the chance. It is open all weekdays – some until 8.00 pm. www.experimentarium.dk

750,000 Danish kroner to upgrade a telescope Lundbeck Foundation funding has given the largest telescope on Danish soil new life. The Foundation has donated DKK 750,000 to the Brorfelde Observatory in Tølløse by Holbæk to upgrade the Brorfelde Schmidt Telescope. Many schoolchildren visit the observatory each year, and the Lundbeck Foundation hopes that this money will help further their interest in science. “Our vision is to create better life through new knowledge – beginning by stimulating the interest of schoolchildren in science. When competing for the favour of young people, it’s important to have the newest technology at hand,” says Anne-Marie Engel, Director of Research at the Lundbeck Foundation. Among other things, the telescope will be given a new CCD camera which can be connected to the internet and take pictures of the full moon in one frame with full resolution. www.brorfelde.dk


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 News

Five million Danish kroner for speedy development of a Zika virus There is an acute need for an effective vaccine against the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which is especially dangerous for pregnant women. It is suspected that the virus causes microcephaly (shrunken head syndrome) and other damage to the central nervous system in babies. The Lundbeck Foundation is therefore donating DKK 5 million to a team of researchers from the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at UCPH, headed by Jan Pravsgaard, Allan Randrup Thomsen, Søren Buus and Anette Stryhn.

requiring fast action,” says Anne-Marie Engel, Director of Research at the Lundbeck Foundation and Director of Grant Allocation Activities. The researchers expect to have a vaccine that works on mice in two years. It will then be developed further for primates and, then, people.

The researchers did not adhere to the official application deadlines, and four other foundations declined, but the Lundbeck Foundation chose to make an exception and fund the project due to the acute nature of the issue and an extremely positive external peer review. “We very rarely process applications outside our usual deadlines but we considered this an urgent matter,

Researchers get 20 million Danish kroner to smuggle drugs over the brain’s border The human brain has a barrier preventing toxins from entering blood vessels. Unfortunately, the blood-brain barrier also thwarts many drugs used to treat brain disorders.

For this reason, the Lundbeck Foundation is giving another DKK 20 million to a research team headed by Professor Martin Lauritzen of UCPH. Professor Lauritzen and his team are working to gain a better understanding of the barrier and find a way to bypass it. “The precise function of the barrier is still a bit of a mystery – how it so effectively succeeds in blocking entry of drugs. If we can gain a better understanding of its mechanisms, it will be easier to manipulate the barrier so that patients with brain disorders get the most from the drugs with fewer side effects,” says Anne-Marie Engel, Director of Research at the Lundbeck Foundation. In 2014, researchers from UCPH, DTU and Aalborg and Aarhus Universities received DKK 40 million from the Lundbeck Foundation to start up the project. The results were so good that the Foundation is now following up with a second grant.

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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Danish brain research is on the up

DANISH BRAIN RESEARCH IS ON THE UP Brain research is doing well in Denmark. So well, in fact, that it is approaching the international pinnacle. Such is the conclusion of a report by Aarhus University – but there’s room for improvement TEXT Helle Horskjær GRAPHICS Make®

anish brain researchers are publishing so many scientific articles that we are among the elite, based on population size and compared to our peer countries. What’s more, Danish research is often quoted in other scientific articles. A new report by the Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy at Aarhus University makes this clear. The report was commissioned by the Lundbeck Foundation, which gives around DKK 250 million to brain research every year – equivalent to almost half of the Foundation’s annual research grants. “The report shows us Denmark’s international position in the field of brain research and gives us an excellent basis for developing the field further,” says Kim Krogsgaard, Director of the Foundation’s international brain research prize, The Brain Prize.

COSTS SOCIETY BILLIONS

Denmark ranks well against countries such as Germany, Sweden and Canada but still lags behind the countries in the research elite – USA, Switzerland, UK and the Netherlands.

‘Brain health’ is the Lundbeck Foundation’s special focus area, and the Foundation has an ambitious goal to make Denmark the world’s leading brain research nation.
 Consequently, a further aim of the report is to provide a foundation for developing and launching new initiatives to promote Danish brain research. One of the initiatives is a project to map research in the field, identifying areas of brain research in which Denmark enjoys a particularly strong position and proposing ways for the Lundbeck Foundation to strengthen future research on brain health. “Brain disorders are one of the greatest challenges facing Denmark’s economy, at increasing cost to society as the population ages. As a foundation, we have a social responsibility to drive development in the right direction,” says Kim Krogsgaard. “Developments are on the right track, particularly in terms of cross-institutional collaboration – both at home and abroad. We’re a small nation, dependent on international activities.”

INTERNATIONAL INPUT

The report shows that eight out of ten Danish publications are written in collaboration with other Danish institutions, and over half together with research colleagues from abroad. Professor and brain researcher Maiken Nedergaard knows all about working across borders and institutions. She has spent 28 years researching at the highest level in the USA. She is now back in Denmark at the Centre for Basic and Translational Neuroscience at the University of Copenhagen. “The really good researchers work together. You can achieve much more when you collaborate. A lab should be open. Researchers should be willing to share and understand that they also have more to gain by sharing their knowledge,” Maiken Nedergaard explains. Kim Krogsgaard sees great perspective in recruiting leading international researchers. “There’s no doubt that we need to attract the best if Denmark is to hold its own. Denmark is dependent on supplementing its expertise with knowledge from abroad.”


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Danish brain research is on the up

138 119.3

116.7

112.3

83.2

58.5

58

57.4

Number of publications per 100,000 inhabitants between 2013 and 2015 for the 8 selected countries rk ds en da nd an na ed ma rla erl en Ca Sw tze h i D t Sw Ne

UK

A US

y an

rm

Ge

“Brain disorders are one of the greatest challenges facing Denmark’s economy, at increasing cost to society as the population ages. As a foundation, we have a social responsibility to drive development in the right direction.” Kim Krogsgaard Director of the Lundbeck Foundation's brain research prize, The Brain Prize

Indexed number of publications per country from 2004-2015

ABOUT THE STUDY “Mapping of Danish Neuroscience research from 2004 – 2015” shows that, over a period of ten years, Denmark has experienced the greatest relative growth in scientific articles compared with its seven peer countries. Relative to population size, Denmark’s volume of publications is only surpassed by Switzerland. The study is based on scientometric analyses of international articles on brain research from 2004 to 2015, and the report was prepared by Jesper W Schneider and Jens Peter Andersen from the Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy at Aarhus University.

250

200

150

100 2004-06 2005-07 2006-08 2007-09 2008-10 2009-11 Denmark

Switzerland

Sweden

UK

Netherlands

Canada

Germany

USA

2010-12

2011-13

2012-14

2013-15

You can find the full report at lundbeckfonden.com/ media/Mapping_of_Danish_ Neuroscience_Research_ FINAL_.pdf

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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 We’ll be able to diagnose chronic pain in five years

WE’LL BE ABLE TO DIAGNOSE CHRONIC PAIN IN FIVE YEARS Research on supporting cells may further knowledge on memory and lead to a method for diagnosing chronic pain – good news for more than 800,000 Danes who suffer from chronic or recurrent pain TEXT Helle Horskjær PHOTO Vincent Sullivan

Professor Maiken Nedergaard of the Centre for Basic and Translational Neuroscience at the University of Copenhagen

record-breaking grant from the Lundbeck Foundation means that Maiken Nedergaard can dedicate the next five years to her research project: Astrocytic Modulation of Arousal and Pain. Its aim is to investigate how astrocytes, a type of glial cell, help process information received by the brain. “The grant enables us to further our understanding of the way in which supporting cells affect a number crucial brain functions, and it may have a huge impact on the way we work with memory and treat chronic pain in the future,” says Professor Maiken Nedergaard of the Centre for Basic and Translational Neuroscience at the University of Copenhagen. Fluid doesn’t reach the brain Maiken Nedergaard and some of her colleagues discovered that the system that rinses the brain, the glymphatic system, changes when we’re in pain.

“It turns out that the glymphatic system is not only driven by neurons but by glial cells, too. Glial cells change their function depending on whether you’re awake, asleep or active,” Maiken Nedergaard explains. The researchers inject coloured cerebrospinal fluid – the liquid surrounding the brain and spinal cord – into mice and examine the flow of the fluid. “When we inject mice that are awake and have chronic pain, we can see that the fluid hardly reaches the brain. When the mice are asleep, the brain suddenly opens and allows the fluid to flow through,” she says. The mice are then given an intramuscular injection of painkiller, and the cerebrospinal fluid suddenly begins to flow like it does in normal awake mice. Consequently, Maiken Nedergaard believes that there is a correlation between the cerebrospinal fluid’s access to the brain and the perception of pain.

Pain diagnosis in the pipeline According to Maiken Nedergaard, this is good news for more than 800,000 Danes who suffer from chronic or recurrent pain. “I’m sure that we’ll be able to diagnose chronic pain in five years. This will be extremely useful, since chronic pain is a huge problem for society and the individual. Many pain patients are unable to work and many don’t get the right treatment.” The overriding challenge, today, is that we do not have good, objective diagnostics for degree of pain. “We ask patients to rate their pain on a scale of one to ten, and patients differ. If they're in a good mood, they might say they feel the drug is working, purely because they feel better in themselves,” she says


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Young scientists are tomorrow’s communicators

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YOUNG SCIENTISTS ARE TOMORROW’S COMMUNICATORS You must learn to communicate your ideas and skills if you dream of a future as a researcher and wish to make your mark on science TEXT Michael Friislund PHOTO Astra

RECORD-BREAKING PERSONAL GRANT FOR LEADING BRAIN RESEARCHER IN DENMARK Professor Maiken Nedergaard, one of Denmark's internationally renowned brain researchers, has received a five-year grant for DKK 40 million from the Lundbeck Foundation, as has her husband, Professor Steven Goldman, Director of the Centre for Basic and Translational Neuroscience at the University of Copenhagen and Professor at the Neurocentre, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen. This is the largest personal grant in the Foundation’s history. “The Lundbeck Foundation’s funding of Maiken Nedergaard and Steven Goldman’s research will help us retain some exceedingly talented scientists in Denmark,” says Anne-Marie Engel, Director of Research at the Lundbeck Foundation.

Each year, in April, hundreds of Denmark’s cleverest young people meet and compete in the name of science. The setting is the Young Scientists talent competition where students from all of the country’s schools and further education colleges have the opportunity to show their projects to around 10,000 visitors and 175 judges. Prizes worth more than DKK 300,000 are awarded for the best projects. Communication is important and counts for 20% of the total mark when the winners are chosen. But communication now has its own prize – the Communication Prize – sponsored by the Lundbeck Foundation, which has been supporting Young Scientists for many years. “The research itself is important, but communication plays a key role if you want to be a researcher. If you can’t communicate your research, politicians or colleagues

may not notice or understand it and the results won’t make the difference researchers always hope for. It can also prevent further funding and, consequently, the opportunity to continue your research,” says Mikkel Bohm, Director at Astra, who organises Young Scientists and every year is reminded of the young people’s professional and creative approach: “The young people are very conscious of how they want to present their project, and their ideas are incredible. For example, one student used her personal story and made a wristband for girls who cut themselves. Others take a more academic, almost nerdy, approach. Lots print spectacular posters; others make prototypes, models and even tasters. Some have served us insects.” Read more on www.ungeforskere.dk

Professor Maiken Nedergaard is internationally renowned for her research on the brain’s supporting cells – glial cells – and their significance for the way in which the brain disposes of waste products while we sleep. “The money will help attract talented postdocs and PhD students, and we’ll invest in a sophisticated CT scanner,” says Maiken Nedergaard, Centre for Neuroscience, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

The winner of the Lundbeck Foundation Communication Prize for Juniors 2016 was Mads Nørløv Bundgaard, Skt. Josefs Skole, for his project on fibre optic electricity.


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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Tomorrow's pharmacy is in our gut

Danish-led research gives ground-breaking insights into hitherto puzzling gut bacteria, opening the doors for research into completely new treatments for physical and psychological disorders alike TEXT Michael Friislund PHOTO iStock, etc. GRAPHICS MakeÂŽ


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Tomorrow's pharmacy is in our gut

TOMORROW’S PHARMACY IS IN OUR GUT

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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Tomorrow's pharmacy is in our gut

ver the past ten years, gut bacteria and their influence on both mind and body have become one of the hottest fields of research, chronicled in renowned scientific journals and the general media alike. Apparently, the correlation between the bacteria in our gut and our well-being is now undisputed, and the more scientists learn about the 50 million or so bacteria we carry around with us, the greater the potential seems to be. In an office in Universitetsparken in Copenhagen sits Professor Oluf Borbye Pedersen – a pioneer and one of the leading researchers in the field: “I’m not firing on all cylinders today. I’ve just got back from India, where they’re six hours ahead of us. That gives jet lag. But I’m not the only one with jet lag – my gut bacteria have it, too. Research has shown that jet lag impacts our gut bacteria, changing their relative composition and, in turn, their function, making them more like those we find in obese individuals,” Professor Oluf Borbye Pedersen explains.

CORRELATION BETWEEN THE GUT AND THE PSYCHE

Ten years ago, most of us would have laughed at such a claim but numerous studies have helped identify the correlation between a wide variety of disorders, including obesity, and the composition of the bacteria in our gut, also known as gut microbiota. Furthermore, new studies indicate that it is likely that gut microbiota also affect our well-being and could possibly be used to cure psychological disorders.

“We now know that many of the brain’s neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, are produced during interaction between gut cells and gut bacteria.” Oluf Borbye Pedersen

Professor of Molecular Metabolism and Metabolic Genetics Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen

“As yet, we know very little about the correlation between the gut and human neurobiology. Our inspiration comes from the many studies on mice and rats which have shown that changing the bacteria composition in an animal’s gut – the microbiota – can affect its behaviour. For example, bacteria-free mice have been bred, and their behaviour is different from that of mice with normal microbiota. They find it more difficult to learn new things and they become reckless, which is potentially fatal in nature where they’d be eaten by the cat. We now actually know that many of the brain’s neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, are produced during interaction between gut cells and gut bacteria,” says Oluf Borbye Pedersen.

BACTERIA CURE AUTISTIC MICE

The most convincing proof of the correlation between gut microbiota and neurobiology comes from studies in which the babies of pregnant mice with an infectious disease are born with autistic behaviour. The composition of the gut bacteria of these young mice is completely altered – the gut lining is more permeable, allowing more foreign molecules from food and the


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Tomorrow's pharmacy is in our gut

substances created by gut bacteria to enter the blood stream of the mouse. This affects the animal’s behaviour, making it socially immature, lonely and asocial. Scientists have found that the levels of a newly identified chemical substance, 4-ethylphenyl sulfate, are 46 times higher in the autistic mice. This substance is produced by specific gut bacteria, which cause autism in the brain.

CV

Oluf Borbye Pedersen, born 1945 • Specialist in internal medical and endocrinology, chief physician. • Professor of Molecular Metabolism and Metabolic Genetics, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. • Research Director at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Centre for Basic Metabolic Research. • Former director of the Lundbeck Foundation Centre of Excellence in Medical Genomics – www.lucamp.org. • Co-author of ‘Tarme i Topform’ (gut in peak condition) as well as 730 scientific articles.

“The beauty of this story is that scientists were able to cure autism by giving mice a specific bacterium: Bacteroides fragilis. The substance that affected the brain disappeared from the blood stream, the microbiota returned to normal, the permeable gut healed, and most of the symptoms of autism vanished,” Oluf Borbye Pedersen explains.

THE PROFESSOR’S GREEN ENERGY BREAKFAST Diet is important to give the good bacteria the best conditions in the gut. Professor Oluf Borbye Pedersen and his wife have eaten this mixture for breakfast every morning for the past 30 years.

1/2 avocado

1/2 apple

Although most of the research on the effect of gut bacteria on both physical and psychological disorders is based on experiments with mice and rats, there are indications that there is a similar correlation between the gut and human illness. For example, there is a difference in the composition of the gut bacteria of healthy individuals and that of people with obesity, type 2 diabetes, bowel cancer or depression. However, such associations should not be confused with cause. Which is the chicken and which is the egg? These important issues are under intense scrutiny.

1/2 lemon (juice)

It is, as yet, unknown whether gut bacteria will be able to cure diseases in human beings like they did in the autistic mice. The phenomenon has only been proven in a very few cases. For example, faecal transplantation is used to treat people who suffer from recurrent, life-threatening diarrhoea caused by the

2½ dl herbal tea, e.g. peppermint

1 pinch of freshly grated ginger 1/2 kiwi or 10 grapes 5 walnuts

1 ark sheet sushi seaweed

3-4 handfuls fresh spinach

1 large handful parsley

3 fl  orets broccoli, curly kale, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts

1 small handful bean sprouts

Blend all ingredients to a green purée and eat cold or hot.

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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Tomorrow's pharmacy is in our gut

Clostridium difficile bacterium – transplantation of faeces from healthy donors cures 90% of all patients. To date, faecal transplantation is only permitted in cases of life-threatening illness where there is no alternative, effective treatment. Apart from the fact that we do not know why and how the treatment works, there have been examples of patients accidentally contracting diseases from the donors despite prior screening. If treatment with gut bacteria is to make a serious impact, we need to identify the specific beneficial bacteria or bacterial molecules that promote health and can be used for treatment – and research has made great progress here, too.

50 billion

On average, adults have 50 billion (50,000,000,000,000) bacteria in their guts – the equivalent of 1.5 to 2 kilos

BREAKTHROUGH IN DANISH-LED RESEARCH

One of the major breakthroughs came from a Danish-led study – LuCamp – headed by Oluf Borbye Pedersen. Much has been achieved in the ten years since the Lundbeck Foundation gave LuCamp a grant of DKK 60 million. At that time, research on gut microbiota was largely limited to the bacteria that could be cultivated in a Petri dish. The problem is that around 90% of gut bacteria die when exposed to oxygen. Consequently, they cannot be grown in a lab. In other words, we knew surprisingly little about what actually lived in the human gut. “So, we wanted to investigate whether everything we’d learnt about human genetics – all the techniques and methods for making mathematical models and conducting research – could be used to identify the 90% of the gut bacteria that couldn’t be cultivated. We wanted to identify the bacteria purely based on their DNA. When we started, colleagues said we were living in a dream world,” says Oluf Borbye Pedersen. In addition to the grant from the Lundbeck Foundation, Oluf Borbye Pedersen participated in the European-Sino research initiative, MetaHIT, funded by the EU. In 2008, with bags full of funding and faecal samples from 76 Danes on dry ice, he travelled to China for 18 months. At that time, the Chinese were at the forefront of DNA-based research. A large team of researchers worked at the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) 24/7 for over a year. The bacteria’s DNA was purified and, using extremely sophisticated technology, each unit of DNA was scanned, transferred to supercomputers and processed by mathematicians. Based on the DNA, hundreds of hitherto unknown bacteria were identified in a virtual environment. The result was ground-breaking.

400 different bacteria

Several hundreds of species of gut bacteria have been identified. A human being typically has around 400 different bacteria in the gut. 160 of these are common – the others are rarer

BRAIN AND GUT INTERACT The gut affects the brain in three different ways: ➀ Through the vagus nerve. ➁ With neurotransmitters – inflammation hormones. A reaction in the gut sends signals to the brain, generating a type of inflammation in the brain.

90%

of the bacteria die when exposed to oxygen

This is the reason why they can’t be cultivated in a lab. And the reason why we – until recent – didn’t know a lot about them.

➂ The gut contributes to the formation of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, in which there is an imbalance in the case of depression.


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Tomorrow's pharmacy is in our gut

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THE BEGINNING OF A REVOLUTION

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million genes 10 million genes have been identified in human gut bacteria

Gut bacteria affect our metabolism and resistance to infection. We know that they affect behaviour in animals. Studies are ongoing to determine whether the same applies to human beings

In 2010, the first bacterial gene catalogue was published in the world’s most reputable science journal, Nature. It was entitled ‘Our other Genome’, referring to an earlier catalogue of human genes, ‘The Human Genome’, which was presented to President Bill Clinton in 2001. While the human gene catalogue included 20,000 genes, the bacterial version catalogued no less than 3.3 million. In 2014, 10 million genes from human gut bacteria were added to the catalogue. “We progressed from a handful of bacteria to identifying 700 new ones, and the article in Nature made it all publicly available. It started a revolution that has only just taken off. The Lundbeck Foundation helped kick-start all of the developments we’re currently seeing in gut bacteria research. We’re discovering potential for treating psychological disorders with bacteria, or the molecules produced by bacteria,” Oluf Borbye Pedersen explains.

THE WORLD’S BIGGEST CHEMICALS FACTORY

The professor is in no doubt that tomorrow’s pharmacy is to be found in the gut: “The gut is the world’s biggest chemicals factory, with 50 billion – that’s 50 million million – employees each producing molecules. If we can identify the molecules that keep us healthy, pharmaceutical companies can produce them and, maybe, cure and prevent many disorders without significant side effects because we’ve developed along with the bacteria. We know them and their molecules. So, there’s immense commercial interest. The dream is to find the ‘good’ bacteria and to be able to cultivate them, encapsulate them and add them to the right diet. You might then live a long, healthy life – full of energy,” says Oluf Borbye Pedersen


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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Denmark must engage in world-class R&D

DENMARK MUST ENGAGE IN WORLD-CLASS R&D

Q&A

with Kåre Schultz, CEO at H. Lundbeck A/S and chair of the Danish government’s life science growth team.

TEXT Regitze Reeh PHOTO Jens Honoré

You chaired the government’s growth team for Danish life science. What came of that?

Aarhus University. It’s a question of increasing, improving and focusing public life science research.

The growth team was made up of 11 individuals whose collective experience and knowledge represented Danish life science. We all had a burning desire to create better health, better treatment, better education, better research and development. This produced a fun and inspiring debate and 17 specific recommendations for the government, with up to 100 subrecommendations.

Does private research have the right conditions in Denmark?

It’s now up to the politicians to put them into practice. This is imperative if Denmark wants a life science sector in growth.

What should Denmark do to hold its own in the international competition to create successful research environments? There’s simply too little public research focusing on life science. As a small nation, Denmark must be able to compete with the biggest and best academic environments in the world. But there have been radical cuts to public research, and what’s left is spread over eight universities. It would be much better to reduce the eight to a maximum of three: the University of Copenhagen, the Technical University of Denmark and

Conditions for private research in Denmark aren’t competitive. Most European countries found a way to back private research long ago, for example with patent boxes and extra tax cuts. These countries recognised that if they nurtured research at the highest level, the rest of the value chain would fall into line: development, production maturity, pilot plants and early production for the benefit of employment, the economy and the investment environment. Research goes where it has the best conditions. Introducing extra tax cuts for all research in Denmark would prevent what’s happening today – the fact is that successful Danish biotech companies are relocating their research activities to countries such as The Netherlands.

What do we need to do to create the next major Danish pharmaceutical company? The state must be ready to help small start-ups. Initial funding must come

from sources other than the Lundbeck Foundation and the Novo Nordisk Foundation. These are more or less the only organisations willing to take on biotech today. Biotech is complicated and high-risk – both natural obstacles for companies such as pension funds. So, the state must step in at the earliest stage. Another way to promote more Danish stock exchange listings would be to change the rules for capital gains tax in line with surrounding countries. If we don’t, they’ll go to Sweden, the UK or the US.

You’ve been the CEO at Lundbeck for two years now – how has it been? I realised when I joined Lundbeck that the company has a fantastic history, a slightly confused present and potential for a very exciting future! So, we’re now in full swing, focusing on our strategy so that we can add value for patients, society and our shareholders. Radical adjustment of our expenses was unpleasant but totally unavoidable. There must be a correlation between outgoings and income, between the number of tasks and the size of our workforce. We were quick to analyse, announce and implement, but it’s still a lengthy process.


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Denmark must engage in world-class R&D

CV

K책re Schultz K책re Schultz gained an MSc in Economics from the University of Copenhagen in 1987 and, after a few years as a consultant at McKinsey, he joined Novo Nordisk in 1989 as an economist. He rose to senior management in 2001 after a number of years in a variety of management positions. In 2014, he was appointed President and Deputy CEO. K책re Schultz left Novo Nordisk in 2015 to become CEO at Lundbeck. K책re Schultz was born in 1961, is a member of the board of LEGO A/S and chair of the board of Royal Unibrew A/S. In 2014, he was voted Chair of the Year by PwC.

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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Denmark must engage in world-class R&D

THE LUNDBECK FOUNDATION’S LARGEST COMPANY Lundbeck is a global pharmaceutical company, dealing with research, development, production, marketing and sales of drugs all over the world. The company’s products target disorders such as depression, schizophrenia and Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s diseases. Kåre Schultz took up the position of CEO in May 2015. The company was listed on the Copenhagen stock exchange in 1999. The Lundbeck Foundation owns 70% of Lundbeck’s shares.

Is the task now solved? We’ve solved the first stage, and there’s now a healthy correlation between the basic strategy and the company’s basic structure. The organisation has great energy and supports our vision to improve quality of life for people with psychiatric and neurological disorders. We focus on four areas: depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s. We’ll only concentrate on developing future products in these four areas and we’ll sell them on the global market ourselves. So there’s a long, hard slog ahead.

What’s it like running a company owned by a foundation? Well, I’ve worked under those conditions for many years. I’m also chairman of the board of a listed company without a majority shareholder and a member of the board of a family-owned company: three very different types of ownership, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. In my opinion, a combination of foundation ownership and being listed on the stock exchange is almost ideal. Foundation ownership gives stability in times of prosperity as well as recession. On the other hand, listing keeps a company on its toes. Due to the share price, we’re accountable every day. It’s bound to boost the efficiency of companies owned by foundations if some of the shares are on the open market.

The foundation model is of immense benefit to Denmark and Danish economy. All successful companies are obvious targets for major international groups – and they’ll be bought up if they don't have an owner that protects them. So, if Denmark wants new, large pharmaceutical companies, an important step would be to ensure good conditions for new commercial foundations.

How is foundation ownership perceived abroad? It’s a rather unique ownership model, unseen in many other parts of the world where they aren’t used to foundations owning and running companies. Our employees across the world feel exceedingly proud that some of the profit they help generate is returned to society to fund biomedical sciences research or is otherwise put to good use. Being owned by a foundation instils confidence that a hostile takeover won’t wipe out jobs overnight.

How does Lundbeck aim to succeed on the global market? We strive to manufacture and market the world’s best drugs in our four focus areas, to make serious improvements to patients’ quality of life. And we aim to be the most proficient in our field. The only way we can do this is to maintain focus. This is our entire philosophy – focused R&D strategy.

Only a few projects need to succeed for a company like Lundbeck to achieve success, but the fact that 19 out of 20 development projects fail indicates how important it is to have the most talented R&D resources.

Pharmaceuticals are Denmark's biggest export. How can we keep this up? It’s important to create and maintain close collaboration between industry, foundations, the health service, hospitals and universities to ensure that it’s positive and legitimate to work together to create new ideas, improved concepts for both novel and existing drugs and medicotechnical equipment. Most important of all, we must continue to engage in world-class R&D - this is an absolute must. In a globalised world, the winner takes it all. So, you have to be incredibly good at what you do. Or no-one will buy your products


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Changing the guard on The Brain Prize Selection Committee

CHANGING THE GUARD ON THE BRAIN PRIZE SELECTION COMMITTEE Sir Colin Blakemore looks back on seven years as chair of the Selection Committee for The Brain Prize. Both he and his successor, Professor Anders Björklund, recognise that from the point of view of equal opportunities there’s a long way to go

TEXT Regitze Reeh PHOTO Lars Engelgaar

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Professor Anders Björklund (left) takes over as chair of the Selection Committee for The Brain Prize from Professor Colin Blakemore who held the post for seven years.

n 2010, the Lundbeck Foundation Nordic Research Prize was awarded for the last time. The Foundation's ambitions have grown and the Nordic prize has developed to include all of Europe. At the same time, the field of research was limited to brain research. The idea was to create the largest and most prestigious prize to honour particularly outstanding contributions to European brain research. The Brain Prize was born. Sir Colin Blakemore was appointed first chair of the Selection Committee. After seven years, it’s time to pass on the baton to Professor Anders Björklund.


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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Changing the guard on The Brain Prize Selection Committee

Anders Björklund Back in 2010, when the Lundbeck Foundation began developing the Nordic Research Prize into what we decided to christen The Brain Prize, I helped draw up the rules and articles for the new prize as an external member of the Foundation’s Research Committee. The Lundbeck Foundation were extremely conscious of the importance of having the very best selection committee right from the start – this was absolutely crucial. Consequently, our first success criterion was the selection of Sir Colin Blakemore as its chair. His reputation among the premier league of brain research was a mark of quality in itself. Colin Blakemore Although The Brain

Prize had its roots in European neuroscience, it was very important for the committee to include talented scientists from beyond Europe’s borders. This would not only ensure a broader empirical foundation and view, it would raise the international profile of the prize from the very beginning. We’ve always followed a formal rule to include no more than three members of the same nationality. One of our more informal rules is that around half the committee should have a connection to basic research and half to clinical research.

Anders Björklund It was the Lundbeck

Foundation’s explicit wish that The Brain Prize should be the largest brain research prize in the world and, therefore, the prize sum was fixed at one million euros. They also wanted the prize to focus more on ground-breaking brain research than on the contributions of the individual scientists. We all knew of instances where the prizewinners – all talented researchers – had been selected by their good, old

friends. That was a ‘no-go’ for the committee. We were stubbornly determined that the Lundbeck Foundation’s prize would serve research and not merely honour great researchers.

cradle of international brain research. We’ll continue to recognise this by finding a good balance between the European nature of the prize and remaining open to achievements in the rest of the world.

When he looks back over the seven years as chair of the committee, Sir Colin Blakemore is pleased to note a steady increase in the number of high quality nominations.

Colin Blakemore There are still two things

Colin Blakemore The number of

nominations has increased over the years without any negative impact on quality, neither among the majority of nominations nor among those who nominate. This sends a clear signal that the prize is both significant and respected by leading brain researchers. I’m not worried that we’ll run out of nominations. Considering the rate of brain research and the fact that the prize can now be given to brain researchers from all over the world – not just Europe – the number of nominations will continue to rise.

Anders Björklund We’ve gradually relaxed the European focus over the course of the first seven years. For example, we’ve included researchers from other parts of the world if they collaborate with Europeans. Further internationalisation of The Brain Prize is a natural progression. Science is international, and limiting the prize to Europe would not reflect the current science environment. But is there not a risk that the prize may be ‘taken over’ by the Americans?

Anders Björklund The prize will continue to have a European profile. Europe is the

we need to achieve, and that I’d encourage Anders to focus on while he chairs the committee. Although, so far, all of the winners have had a connection to clinical issues, the prize has been awarded every year to basic research. I hope that, one day, the prize will go to a field of research closer to patients.

Another issue that we’ve struggled with during my time as chair is the balance between the sexes. There are lots of talented female researchers out there, but when we sit with the nominations, the overwhelming majority of the nominees are men. There are definitely fewer women who nominate, but even in their nominations we see a tendency to recommend male researchers. Two out of 24 prizewinners is not representative of the number of talented female brain researchers, so it’s just not good enough. Although Colin Blakemore has now retired as chair of the Selection Committee, he has not severed all ties to the Lundbeck Foundation. Together with neurologist Martin Rossor (National Director for Dementia Research at the National Hospital, Queen Square, London), he has been appointed head of a small working group to provide ideas for ways in which the Foundation can help raise the level of activity and international visibility of Danish brain research

WINNERS OF THE BRAIN PRIZE 2017 The Lundbeck Foundation's major research prize, The Brain Prize, goes to three brain researchers who have found a key to understanding the mechanisms in the brain that lead to compulsive gambling, drug addiction and alcoholism. The winners are Peter Dayan (UK), Ray Dolan (Ireland) and Wolfram Schultz (Germany). www.thebrainprize.org

They have proven that the release of dopamine is not a response to the actual reward but to the difference between the reward we expect and the reward we actually receive. The greater the surprise, the more dopamine is released.


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Danish cannabis research wins the Junior Brain Prizerize

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DANISH CANNABIS RESEARCH WINS THE JUNIOR BRAIN PRIZE Eva Meier Carlsen from the University of Copenhagen and her cannabis research took the 2016 Junior Brain Prize. TEXT Pernille Thorborg Jasper PHOTO Steffen Stamp

Professor Graham Collingridge, one of the 2016 Brain Prize winners, presented Eva Meier Carlsen with her award. The justification for the prize reads: “... with increasing legalisation of cannabis around the world, it’s crucial to know more about the way in which cannabis affects the brain, and her research gives us a good understanding of this.” The prize is awarded each year at the Brain Prize Meeting, which is held at Hindsgavl

Professor Graham Collingridge (left), one of the 2016 Brain Prize winners, and Kim Krogsgaard, Director of The Brain Prize, presented Eva Meier Carlsen with the Junior Brain Prize.

Castle at the end of October. It is given to the young scientist who delivers the best presentation of an inspiring research project. The prize is accompanied by a monetary award of 2,500 euros. Since she won the prize, Eva has continued her work on the cannabis project while completing her PhD. Her next plan is to apply a translational approach and transfer her results to human beings


RESEARCH PAVES THE WAY FOR NOVEL TREATMENTS FOR CONCENTRATION DIFFICULTIES

Thousands of Danes have difficulty with concentration, learning and memory after mental illness, at huge cost to Danish society every year

TEXT Michael Friislund PHOTO Rasmus Malmstrøm GRAPHICS Make®


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Research paves the way for novel treatments for concentration difficulties

hen she was just 20, and a very new psychology student, Kamilla Miskowiak had an idea to give EPO to rats. While most people associate EPO with the doping scandals of the late nineties, Kamilla Miskowiak had a theory that it could be used to treat cognitive impairment such as the difficulties with memory, concentration and planning experienced by many people with psychological disorders, even after they have been given the all clear. “The cognitive difficulties many people experience, particularly after depression and bipolar disorder, don't only come with a high personal cost. They’re actually the direct cause of reduced working capacity, which is the greatest financial burden imposed by brain disorders on society. Yet we don’t have a documented, effective treatment for these cognitive difficulties today,” Kamilla Miskowiak explains.

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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Research paves the way for novel treatments for concentration difficulties

EPO IS THE MEANS – NOT THE END

What happens in the brain? During and after many psychological disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder, we observe changed activity and often reduced function in several areas of the brain, including the frontal lobe and the hippocampus (the brain’s memory centre).

FRONTAL LOBE Also known as the prefrontal cortex. Handles control functions, such as planning, working memory, ability to maintain focus and strategic learning, and even plays a part in the ability to assimilate information.

HIPPOCAMPUS Is more specifically involved in learning and memory (but other areas of the brain, including the frontal lobe, are also involved in learning processes).

The primary aim of Miskowiak's research is not to investigate whether EPO is an effective therapeutic agent – this would be an added bonus. She is looking for a method that will make it easier and less expensive to test new treatments, for example to stimulate memory, learning processes and concentration. “Typical practice today, in this field of research, is to start with experiments on animals such as rats. We then start up large-scale clinical trials, which are extremely broad and expensive. Due to the high cost, many trials of new and potentially better drugs don’t continue. The financial stakes for pharmaceutical companies are simply too high,” says Kamilla Miskowiak, whose research attempts to identify a less expensive method for documenting the effect of treatments.

THE HUNT FOR A BIOMARKER

When people are affected by a psychological disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder (manic depression), changes are often seen in the brain. These may take the form of abnormal activity in the frontal lobe or structural changes to areas such as the hippocampus (the brain’s memory centre), causing impairment to concentration and memory. The changes in the brain can continue long after the illness has gone and become chronic if depression and bipolar disorder are recurrent. The change in the frontal lobe can be observed on an MR scan. Consequently, an MR scan could probably be used to demonstrate beneficial effects of new candidate treatments.

“If we can identify a biomarker for beneficial effect on cognition, it would lead to a ground-breaking new method for testing new candidate treatments for cognitive impairment in the future.”

Kamilla Miskowiak Psychologist and head of research


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Research paves the way for novel treatments for concentration difficulties

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Kamilla Miskowiak heads her own research team at the Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen

CV

Kamilla Miskowiak 36 years old, qualified in psychology from the University of Oxford (2004) and University of Copenhagen (2006), PhD from the University of Oxford (2008) Head of her own research team at the Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen (NEAD Group) Head of the International Society for Bipolar Disorder (ISBD) Targeting Cognition Task Force Recommended for a professorship in clinical psychology at the Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen Prizes and scholarships • Danish Council for Independent Research’s Young Elite Researcher 2009 • Lundbeck Foundation Talent Prize 2010 • L’Oréal for Women in Science 2012 • Lundbeck Foundation Fellowship 2016

If we can identify what happens when a patient with cognitive impairment experiences an improvement in concentration, learning or memory during treatment – and where in the brain this happens – we will have identified a so-called biomarker for improvement of cognition. “We test candidate biomarkers in two parallel, randomised controlled trials using two particularly promising forms of treatment: medical treatment, whereby test subjects receive weekly high doses of intravenous EPO for 12 weeks, and psychological treatment with Action-Based Cognitive Remediation (ABCR) for ten weeks. An MR scan is used early in the course of treatment to find an indicator in the brain that may predict whether the treatment methods will have an effect. If we can identify a biomarker for beneficial effect on cognition, it would lead to a ground-breaking new method for testing new candidate treatments for cognitive impairment in the future,” says Kamilla Miskowiak. In 2016, Kamilla Miskowiak received a Lundbeck Foundation Fellowship of DKK 10 million for further research on a viable brain-based biomarker for pro-cognitive effects. Based on earlier studies, first with rats and then on healthy subjects and patients with depression or bipolar disorder, she has carried out pioneering studies on novel pharmacological and psychological treatments for cognitive impairment in patients with these affective disorders. She has demonstrated that EPO may have a beneficial effect on cognitive

function and cause structural and functional changes in the brain. “If it hadn’t been for the funding I received from the Lundbeck Foundation since I went to Oxford to do my PhD, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I do today.” Sixteen years after formulating her first ideas to use EPO in experiments on rats, she heads her own research team (Neurocognition and Emotion in Affective Disorders (NEAD) Group) at the Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, as well as an international task force (International Society for Bipolar Disorder (ISBD) Targeting Cognition Task Force) made up of 18 of the leading experts from ten countries. Kamilla Miskowiak has also been recommended for a professorship in clinical psychology at the Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen


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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Half a billion for fellowships

HALF A BILLION FOR FELLOWSHIPS With five new Fellowships in 2016, the Lundbeck Foundation continued its strong tradition – for the tenth year running, awarding particularly promising young scientists grants of DKK 10 million over five years to realise their research ideas. A total of 54 Fellows are now part of a new network that enables sharing of experiences and development of ideas across institutions and scientific fields TEXT Michael Friislund PHOTO Thomas Tolstrup

The Lundbeck Foundation Fellowship programme’s tenth anniversary was celebrated in October 2016, bringing many of the 54 Fellows together. Troels C. Petersen (front row, third from the left) received a Fellowship in 2009 for his project ‘Searching for Dark Matter at CERN’s LHC accelerator’.


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Half a billion for fellowships

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The guest of honour, Nature’s editor-in-chief, Sir Philip Campbell, explained how Nature selects research articles for publication.

LUNDBECKFONDEN FELLOWS 2016

hey are young yet already well-known and recognised in their fields. They are among the most talented researchers in their age group, and the Fellowship’s funding allows them to develop their ideas and devote themselves to their research in Denmark. In October 2016, five new Lundbeck Foundation Fellows were officially presented with their research scholarships at an event marking the tenth anniversary of the Lundbeck Foundation Fellowship programme. This year’s Fellows research into fields as diverse as cancer cells, cholesterol crystals, Greenlandic genes, allergic asthma and cognitive problems arising from psychological disorders.

NEW FELLOWS NETWORK

To mark the tenth anniversary, the Lundbeck Foundation took the initiative to form a Fellows network, and the first official meeting was held on the occasion of the celebration of this year’s prizewinners and new Fellows. The network will provide a platform to develop and share experiences and ideas, across institutions and specialist fields. In addition to an inspiring talk by Sir Philip Campbell, editor-in-chief of Nature, one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals, there was good opportunity for Fellows to meet and discuss challenges associated with the climb from researcher to head of one’s own research team.

“We’re all researchers at heart but not necessarily talented leaders. We might get there, but it’ll take more than a three-day leadership course,” says Troels Christian Petersen, Associate Professor of experimental particle physics at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen. He received a Lundbeck Foundation Fellowship in 2009 for his research project ‘Searching for Dark Matter at CERN’s LHC accelerator’.

GOOD EXPERIENCES SHOULD BE SHARED

Troels Petersen considers the Fellows network an excellent source of inspiration and an opportunity to share experiences, and it may help solve many of the issues faced by new research directors. “We’re all around the same age, with the same academic seniority and facing many of the same challenges – research, motivating young academics, recruitment, promotion of postdocs and handling applications. This network gives us the chance to share good experiences,” says Troels Petersen. The Lundbeck Foundation plans to organise two networking days every year where there will be a presentation of a managerial or an academic topic, followed by discussion and lots of room for networking

Marin Barisic, Jr. Group Leader, PhD, Cell Division Lab, Danish Cancer Society Kamilla Miskowiak, Senior Researcher, PhD, Psychiatric Centre, University of Copenhagen Nazila Kamaly, Associate Professor, PhD, DTU Nanotech, Technical University of Denmark Anders Albrechtsen, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen Katharina Lahl, Associate Professor, PhD, National Veterinary Institute, Technical University of Denmark

10 YEARS OF LUNDBECK FOUNDATION FELLOWSHIPS From 2007 to 2016, the Lundbeck Foundation awarded 54 Fellowships, each for DKK 10 million, to young scientists in the fields of natural and biomedical sciences. The aim of the fellowships is to give talented scientists a unique opportunity to conduct concentrated and dedicated research for five years. Grants go to young scientists who have gained a PhD within the past five to seven years, qualified to establish or develop their own research teams at a Danish research institution.


VISITING PROFESSORS

INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION ON HOME GROUND A research collaboration benefits from sharing the working day with research partners from abroad, and the results continue well beyond the duration of a visiting professorship

TEXT Bo Christensen PHOTO Rasmus Malmstrøm, Markus Redvall etc.


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 International collaboration on home ground

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Over the years, the research partnership between Professor Marvin Whiteley from Texas University (left) and Professor Thomas Bjarnsholt from the University of Copenhagen has developed into a close friendship.

here are plenty of jokes and good laughs to be had in the company of the two high-spirited professors and research partners Thomas Bjarnsholt and Marvin Whiteley. Although American Marvin Whiteley is based in Austin, Texas, they have developed a close friendship and a strong research partnership over ten years. The collaboration flourished when Marvin Whiteley spent three months as a visiting professor at the University of Copenhagen, funded by Lundbeckfonden. “I’ve had the chance to show Marvin what we can actually do here in Denmark. And we’ve got even closer to each other, which has led to mutual trust and a friendship that’s essential when collaborating on major research projects across the Atlantic,” says Thomas Bjarnsholt, Professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Costerton Biofilm Centre and Lundbeck Foundation Fellow in 2012.

OUT OF THE LAB INTO REALITY

During Marvin Whiteley’s secondment to the University of Copenhagen, the two professors worked on their joint mission to understand bacterial behaviour at a molecular level in the bodies of patients with chronic infections. “For many years, we’ve been studying individual bacteria in Petri dishes and test tubes, and we've designed treatments for infections and antibiotics based on this. We now need to move on and understand what bacteria do inside the bodies of patients and outside the lab. We need to embrace the complexity — of the reality and of the infections — not avoid it by simplifying.

“Marvin is a pioneer in this field and he’s been generous in sharing his expertise with us while he’s been here. It’s enabled us to come closer to young scientists and created a basis for a sound research partnership which, hopefully, will last for the next 20 to 30 years.”

Thomas Bjarnsholt Professor at Costerton Biofilm Centre, University of Copenhagen and Lundbeck Foundation Fellow from 2012


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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 International collaboration on home ground

“The collaboration with Daniel Geschwind is one of the most rewarding experiences of my career,” says Thomas Werge, Clinical Professor and Head of the Institute of Biological Psychiatry at the Sct. Hans Psychiatric Centre.

FROM COMPETITION TO TRUSTING COLLABORATION The research environment in Denmark can contribute to this,” says Marvin Whiteley, Professor at the University of Texas in Austin. Thomas Bjarnsholt joins in. “It’s about time we confronted the traditional view of bacteria as organisms that work alone and, instead, get to the bottom of the complex and cooperative behaviour we now know bacteria have in living patients,” says Thomas Bjarnsholt.

IN CONTACT WITH PRACTICIANS

To gain a deeper understanding of bacterial behaviour in the bodies of patients with chronic infections, the two molecular biologists plan to study tissue samples and talk to clinicians. “In Denmark, researchers and clinicians have more contact with each other than in America. So, we can talk to clinicians about their experiences with patients with chronic infections to gain an understanding of the infections at levels other than the molecular and the cellular,” says Marvin Whiteley. And Marvin Whiteley has taught young scientists at the Costerton Biofilm Centre how to perform very specific molecular analyses and RNA sequencing of bacteria, which was not previously possible in Denmark. RNA sequencing is a method

for determining the sequence of the bases in RNA. In this case, RNA sequencing is used to determine which genes are expressed, which is a measure for the activity of the bacteria in a given situation. “Marvin is a pioneer in this field and he’s been generous in sharing his expertise with us while he’s been here. This has enabled us to come closer to young scientists and created a basis for a sound research partnership which, hopefully, will last for the next 20 to 30 years,” says Thomas Bjarnsholt

WE NEED TO BREAK DOWN THE BACTERIA’S DEFENCE MECHANISM Most recent research indicates that all species of bacteria attempt to aggregate into so-called biofilm, and bacteria in biofilm can neither be detected by ordinary antibody tests nor destroyed by antibiotics. There is currently only one way to remove biofilm, and that is to remove the infected tissue surgically. However, to do this, you need to know precisely where the biofilm is in the patient, and as yet we lack good methods for detecting it. Thomas Bjarnsholt and Marvin Whiteley are working together to change this.

Researchers at the Institute of Biological Psychiatry, Mental Health Services, Capital Region of Denmark, benefited from one of the ten visiting professorships funded by the Lundbeck Foundation in 2016 when it went to prizewinning professor of human neurogenetics Daniel Geschwind from UCLA. “As partners we each have something unique to offer the others, and we were only able to benefit from this fully because we were able to work together on a daily basis,” says Thomas Werge, Clinical Professor and Head of the Institute of Biological Psychiatry at the Sct. Hans Psychiatric Centre. According to Daniel Geschwind, collaboration by email and Skype cannot compare with a prolonged secondment, during which friendship and trust can develop. “The scientific community is sometimes very competitive, so it’s of great benefit to visit partners overseas for a length of time and build up trust and a close relationship. The opportunity is invaluable – virtual contact is just not the same. You also gain radically different insights, both practical and theoretical, into what you can expect from the collaboration. I believe that visiting a place, for instance for six months, is essential to the quality of a joint project's research,” says Daniel Geschwind.


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 International collaboration on home ground

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“Although Danish scientists conduct research of the highest quality, they don't advertise their achievements and what they are capable of.”

Daniel Geschwind Professor of Human Neurogenetics David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA

INTERACTION BETWEEN GENES AND ENVIRONMENT IN MENTAL ILLNESS

Thomas Werge’s research team, which is part of a major Danish research project (iPSYCH), is collaborating with Daniel Geschwind to study which genetic constellations result in a given psychiatric diagnosis or cause a predisposition towards mental illness in general.

“We want to understand the different genetic variants that are either specific to or general for psychiatric diagnoses. One important aim is to understand why drugs work on some patients and not on others,” says Thomas Werge. In this context, Danish health registers and databases, in particular, hold unique potential. “Based on data from the Danish health registers, we can study an entire, and relatively homogeneous, population with narrow genetic diversity, where both rich and poor receive pretty much the same quality of treatment. We also have access to blood samples from the majority of the population stored in national biobanks, which we can subject to genetic analyses and match with psychiatric diagnoses. This gives us unique opportunities to identify the genetic components of psychological disorders.”

VISIT TO DENMARK AN EYE-OPENER

It was an eye-opener for Daniel Geschwind to visit Denmark and learn about the Danish registers.

about to complete a series of joint research articles, which he expects to have a significant impact on the field of research

“Although Danish scientists conduct research of the highest quality, you don’t advertise your achievements and what you are capable of. So, I didn’t know what options I had in Denmark when I arrived. But once I was aware of them, it became quite clear what we could actually achieve together. It has really broadened my horizons,” says Daniel Geschwind, and he continues: “This doesn’t mean that research can or must only be conducted in the same room, but a secondment such as this one defines a scope for collaboration for the next many years. I’m just about to visit some English partners I met during a visiting professorship there eight years ago. It’s an incredibly good way to establish a research partnership.” Daniel Geschwind’s visit has been very rewarding for Thomas Werge. “The collaboration was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career, and it’s been fantastic to have Daniel working with us on a daily basis. I really believe that we’ll make a difference in this field.” Thomas Werge explains that they are

PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS BEGIN AT A CELLULAR LEVEL

Daniel Geschwind and Thomas Werge want to learn more about the combinations of gene expressions that result in mental illness. “There may be 100,000 gene variants that increase the risk of complex psychological disorders, and if you have a number of these affecting the same area of the brain, it may lead to a psychological disorder, but if you have a different combination of the risky gene variants and they affect several areas of the brain and body, it may not result in a psychological disorder. This is what we’re in the process of mapping,” says Thomas Werge, Clinical Professor and Head of the Institute of Biological Psychiatry at the Sct. Hans Psychiatric Centre.


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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 We need to understand the brain’s smallest components

“WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE BRAIN’S SMALLEST COMPONENTS” A new Danish research initiative is to investigate what happens in the brain – at an atomic level – when people develop brain disorders. Five of Denmark's leading researchers in structural biology will use ground-breaking, new technology to examine previously unobservable details of the brain TEXT Bo Christensen PHOTO FOJAB arkitekter

The electron accelerator laboratory for synchrotron radiation research, MAX IV, is located in Lund, Sweden. It was inaugurated on 21 June 2016.

ne in three Europeans suffer from a brain disorder. Even so, we do not know enough about what happens in the brain’s atoms and molecules when we are affected by disorders such as depression, Parkinson’s disease or anxiety. Backed by a DKK 60 million grant from the Lundbeck Foundation, a new research project aims to help us understand this complicated field. Five of Denmark’s leading research teams in structural biology are involved in the BRAINSTRUC project, which will use ground-breaking, new technology to investigate the brain’s smallest components: “This project enables us to study molecular interactions in the brain at a completely different level of detail and complexity than previously possible.

We hope it will lead to an even better basic scientific understanding of a broad range of brain disorders,” says Bente Vestergaard, head of the BRAINSTRUC team and Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen. “We need to understand these disorders, and how they develop, as a constituent part of a more complex and dynamic interaction, instead of focusing on one static, molecular component at a time.”

FROM MOLECULE TO MAN

The Lundbeck Foundation has been involved in the project since the very beginning and expects much of the results: “We have an ambition for Denmark to be the world’s leading brain research nation. So, we need to gather the country’s brightest talents, across universities and specialist fields. BRAINSTRUC helps us

take brain health research from molecule to man – for the benefit of both patients and society as a whole.” These were the words of Lene Skole, Lundbeckfonden’s CEO, when she spoke at the opening symposium in October 2016.

BRAINSTRUC IN BRIEF BRAINSTRUC aims to understand the molecular basis for various brain functions and disorders and involves five of Denmark’s leading structural biology research teams. The initiative is tailored to make use of the MAX IV synchrotron radiation facility as well as the European Spallation Source (ESS) neutron radiation facility, when it is ready for use in 2022. The Lundbeck Foundation is initially providing BRAINSTRUC with a grant of DKK 40 million with an option for a further DKK 20 million. Read more about BRAINSTRUC at brainstruc.ku.dk and about MAX IV and ESS at lunduniversity.lu.se/ research/max-iv-and-ess.


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 We need to understand the brain’s smallest components

“This project enables us to study molecular interactions in the brain at a completely different level of detail and complexity than previously possible.” Bente Vestergaard Head of the BRAINSTRUC team and Associate Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Copenhagen

WHAT IS STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY? Structural biology looks at the body’s smallest components.

CUTTING EDGE TECHNOLOGY

To meet these bold ambitions, the project’s researchers will use new, trend-setting technology, including the revolutionary MAX IV x-ray source, inaugurated in 2016, and the European Spallation Source (ESS), which will be the world’s most powerful neutron source. Both are located in Lund, Sweden. These high-tech facilities in Lund will enable the Danish researchers to study – in unprecedented detail – the interaction between the proteins in the brain and how these interact with brain cell membranes over time. According to Bente Vestergaard, the aim is to improve our understanding of the fundamental aspects of neurological disorders: “Due to these impressive technological advances, and the fact that the world’s

leading facilities are in our very own back yard, we now have a unique opportunity to increase our understanding of the structure and dynamics of proteins and to identify new ways to treat diseases. If we can directly affect the dynamic interaction of proteins with new types of drugs, we will have launched a completely new concept in drug research.”

It attempts to describe the basic architecture of the cell and understand the body’s structures at molecular and atomic levels. Consequently, structural biology is a vital cornerstone of numerous other research fields related to biomedical sciences, and it is essential that we understand the basic structural biology of the body if we are to develop effective drugs.

BRAINSTRUC’S PRIMARY FOCUS AREAS 1. The brain’s natural immune system and its role in autoimmune, neurological disorders such as sclerosis 2. The importance of so-called ion-transporting and lipid-flipping proteins for the overall structure of nerve cell membranes – including the significance of nerve signals for depression 3. The mechanism behind so-called proteinfibrillation and the correlation to Parkinson’s disease

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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Winter time causes more depression

WINTER TIME CAUSES MORE DEPRESSION

Many more Danes are diagnosed with depression just after the change to winter time than during the period just before the clocks change. This was established by a Danish registry study in the autumn of 2016 TEXT Helle Horskjær PHOTO Martin Gravgaard GRAPHICS Make®

n the last Sunday in October, we set our clocks back one hour. We switch from summer time to winter time, and it gets darker and colder. But the days are not the only things to darken, our mood does too. A registry study shows that the number of cases of depression diagnosed by the country’s psychiatrists is eight per cent higher in the month after the switch to winter time than would be expected based on the trend in diagnoses up to winter time.

“It’s a well-known fact that some people are susceptible to winter depression during the dark months of the year, but the surge in the number of cases of depression when we change from summer time to winter time is new to us,” says Doctor and Associate Professor Søren Dinesen Østergaard from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital Risskov.

WINTER TIME IS DEPRESSION TIME

He is one of the five researchers behind the study – a collaboration between

psychiatry and political science at Aarhus University, the University of Copenhagen and Stanford University. The researchers analysed 185,419 depression diagnoses registered with the Danish Psychiatric Central Research Register. “Eight per cent is a very significant increase, so significant, in fact, that it isn’t coincidental. We’re fairly certain that it’s the change to winter time that causes the rise in diagnoses and not, for instance, that the days get shorter and the weather worse


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Winter time causes more depression

WINTER TIME In Denmark, winter time starts on the last Sunday in October and ends on the last Sunday in March every year.

On the Saturday before the change to winter time, the sun rises around

8

and sets at

6

AM

PM

around the same time. We’ve taken these seasonal phenomena into account in our analyses,” says Søren Dinesen Østergaard.

2012 with the predicted development based on number of cases up to the change to winter time.

PROBABLY NOT LIMITED TO SEVERE DEPRESSION

THE EXTRA HOUR OF SUNLIGHT DOESN'T HELP

Although the study is based on analyses of relatively severe depression, diagnosed at psychiatric hospitals, the researchers do not think that there is reason to believe that the switch from summer time to winter time only affects the risk of severe depression. “We definitely think the whole spectrum of depression is affected by the change to winter time, and since depression is a common disorder an eight per cent increase is a lot of cases.” The results were achieved by comparing the trend in number of cases of depression after the change to winter time between 1995 and

The study does not indicate the cause of the steep rise in cases of depression, but the researchers have some ideas. When we set the clock back, an hour of daylight is ‘moved’ from five to six in the afternoon to seven to eight in the morning, and it’s very likely that daylight at this time of the day doesn’t have the same beneficial effect. “Between seven and eight in the morning, many of us are in the shower, eating breakfast or sitting in the car, bus or train on the way to work. So, we don't get the light we could have got during that hour. And when we leave work in the afternoon, it’s dark.”

“If you’re bordering on depression, you can imagine that the change to winter time – and the thought of an almost endless dark period – could give the final nudge in the wrong direction and trigger full-blown depression.” Søren Dinesen Østergaard Doctor and Associate Professor Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital Risskov

On the first Sunday of winter time, the sun rises around

7

and sets at

5

37

AM

PM

Søren Dinesen Østergaard is convinced that the change to winter time has a negative psychological impact because it clearly marks the beginning of a long, dark and cold period. “If you’re bordering on depression, you can imagine that the change to winter time – and the thought of an almost endless dark period – could give the final nudge in the wrong direction and trigger full-blown depression.” Increased focus on winter depression Søren Dinesen Østergaard and his colleagues hope that the results will increase attention on depression in the weeks after the change to winter time. “This applies, in particular, to people with a tendency to depression, their families and healthcare staff who diagnose and treat the depression that arises,” says Søren Dinesen Østergaard, and he is delighted that the study received such attention when it was published in Epidemiology. The research results were a big story both in Denmark and abroad. “My research has never before generated such a furore in the media. It’s been quite an overwhelming experience. You have to concentrate and communicate as clearly as possible. And I believe our research team succeeded in sending a clear message based on our results


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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 It’s all about intuition

Søren Dinesen Østergaard has received several grants from the Lundbeck Foundation as well as the Talent Prize in 2010. The most recent grant, given in 2014, was for DKK 2.1 million for a postdoc project on ADHD.

IT’S ALL ABOUT INTUITION There’s been no shortage of ideas or projects. Over the past three years, Søren Dinesen Østergaard’s intuition to pursue a good idea has produced a broad range of research results TEXT Helle Horskjær PHOTO Martin Gravgaard

three-year postdoc grant for a project on how heredity and environment interact and affect the risk of developing ADHD led to studies on the role of blood pressure in development of Alzheimer’s disease, how to measure the severity of psychotic depression and schizophrenia, and whether patients with broken heart syndrome are more susceptible to depression and anxiety. And it didn’t stop there. “Research is a creative, dynamic process. New ideas pop up during breaks in the main project, while we’re waiting for data.

We have to do something, and it’s perfectly natural for me to be juggling several projects at a time,” says Søren Dinesen Østergaard, Doctor and Associate Professor at Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital Risskov.

FREEDOM TO SPOT A GOOD IDEA

And this is exactly why the Lundbeck Foundation values flexibility in its research grants.

“We must allow for intuition in research. If we’re not too strict in our demands for the project to stick slavishly to the original project description, we create space for unforeseen ideas and potential break-

throughs,” says Anne-Marie Engel, Director of Research at the Lundbeck Foundation And this is what drives Søren Dinesen Østergaard – the opportunity to delve into the corners of psychiatry. He has felt this way since he was a medical student. “I quickly became fascinated by psychiatry, its complexity and the many unanswered questions,” says Søren Dinesen Østergaard. “Modern research is based on collaboration. My ideas often surface when I meet other scientists at conferences or talk to colleagues about their work. By now, I recognise when an idea is good and should be pursued. It’s all about intuition.” In addition to producing a wealth of research results, Søren Dinesen Østergaard has taken a major step up the career ladder during his postdoc. “When I received the grant, I was still a PhD student. In the meantime, I’ve risen from postdoc to lecturer and am now a tenured assistant professor. This would hardly have been possible without the grant,” says Søren Dinesen Østergaard, who also received one of the Lundbeck Foundation Talent Prizes in 2010


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 News

39

VISIT US ON BORNHOLM! The Lundbeck Foundation took part in Folkemødet for the first time in 2016, hosting two events. And we’re turning up the heat in 2017 Although the weather was poor, events and debates were lively in the tents at the Danish political festival – Folkemødet 2016. And the two events hosted by the Lundbeck Foundation were no exception, with full houses at the debate on health data and the lecture on the origin of the universe.

PHOTO Søren Svendsen

The context for the health data debate was that Denmark has the world’s best health registers, enabling unique research and development of personalised treatments. But does this tally with the population’s resistance to a Big Brother society and fear of misuse of data? Who actually owns the data on our bodies?

The Lundbeck Foundation lecture fired up the brain cells of a keen audience with a scientific account of the Creation – from the Big Bang and creation of the earth in the solar system, through the emergence and development of life to modern man and our journey towards tomorrow’s technology.

NIELS BOHR’S WRITINGS IN THE CLOUD

There is a treasure trove of Niels Bohr’s scientific letters – but only on paper and microfilm. Now, with DKK 500,000 from the Lundbeck Foundation, the Niels Bohr Archive will start scanning the writings, making them available in a digital version. The collection of letters is one of the most important sources for study of the history

ALL THAT THE BRAIN DESIRES

You will find the Lundbeck Foundation at Folkemødet again in 2017 – this time with our own tent. And we’ve prepared a varied and inspiring programme for the entire Saturday, entitled “All that the brain desires”.

of quantum physics and the people of greatest significance for developments in physics. The Lundbeck Foundation is working to ensure that the research reaches a broader audience and that all of Niels Bohr’s letters are freely available on the Archive’s website. The first letters were scanned in September 2016 and the last are expected to be published around April 2018. Read more on www.nbarchive.dk

PHOTO Niels Bohr Institutet One of the writings which the grant has helped digitalise, is the handwritten draft for a letter to Albert Einstein, dated 24 June 1920, where Bohr expresses his wish to welcome Einstein to Copenhagen later that year. It turned out to be Einstein’s only visit to the capital of Denmark.


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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Denmark’s psychiatric research on the world map

DENMARK’S PSYCHIATRIC RESEARCH ON THE WORLD MAP Treating the mentally ill is one of society’s great challenges. Thanks to a record-breaking grant from the Lundbeck Foundation, researchers are hard at work investigating the causes of psychological disorders. The ambition is to identify better – and personalised – therapies TEXT Berit Andersen PHOTO Polfoto, etc. GRAPHICS Make®

he key to solving the puzzle of the causes of mental illness may very well be found in an ongoing Danish study – not only the largest of its kind in the world but facilitated by the Lundbeck Foundation’s largest ever donation. The name of the study is iPSYCH, or the Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research. The donation initially covers two grants of DKK 120 million each. Since 2012, this money has funded 150 researchers in Denmark and abroad. All are working hard to discover why people develop psychological disorders, and the first results are expected in the course of 2017. “This is the world’s largest study of the causes of mental illness. It could be of colossal significance and lead to a fundamental change in treatment of the mentally ill the world over,” says Consultant and Professor Merete Nordentoft, one of the project’s six research directors.

The study primarily involves hospitals and universities in Copenhagen and Aarhus and Statens Seruminstitut (SSI). “If the scientists can come closer to pinpointing the genetic and biological mechanisms that may be involved in triggering mental illness, it will be easier to identify the right treatments – even if these are a long way off,” says Anne-Marie Engel, Director of Research at the Lundbeck Foundation.

A UNIQUE DATASET

iPSYCH is made up of several simultaneous projects, mapping all of the factors for development of psychological disorders. In addition to the major clinical projects that track patients over many years, there are projects focusing on genetic and environmental factors and their interaction. All are based on a large,


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Denmark’s psychiatric research on the world map

41

“Some of the major psychiatric disorders are presumably a combination of several different basic disorders, each with their own cause. If we can identify some of these causal relations, and perhaps do something more specific about them, there’s hope for personalised therapies.” Merete Nordentoft Consultant and Professor Mental Health Services Capital Region of Denmark

unique, combined dataset, developed by the researchers. To date, this is iPSYCH’s key product. “We have a unique situation in Denmark. We have data on each and every Dane’s dealings with the health service and very specific knowledge of their illnesses. But, most important of all, we’ve had the Danish Neonatal Screening Biobank since 1981, with blood samples of all Danes born since then. For the first time, we’ll be able to conclude, at population level, on the significance of genetics for the development of certain psychological disorders,” says Professor Thomas Werge. Building an infrastructure around the datasets, so that they could be used for the studies, has been a lengthy process. Thomas Werge is particularly interested in

understanding the significance of genetic variants for the development and progress of psychological disorders to enable him to stratify patients based on decisive disease mechanisms. But iPSYCH has even broader perspectives: “Due to the infrastructure and extensive data we’ve systematised, iPSYCH will be used all over the world, for the next many years, as the platform for much of the research on causes of mental illness.” According to Thomas Werge, they are already noticing interest in Denmark from international colleagues. Several have even come here to develop their own research together with the iPSYCH team, based on Danish data.

HOPE FOR EARLY INTERVENTION

Alongside the development of the large dataset, a number of clinical studies are in progress, headed by Merete Nordentoft, among others. 522 children and their closest family are being examined when the


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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Denmark’s psychiatric research on the world map

The members of the project team are (from the left): Professor Anders Børglum, Professor Ole Mors, both from Aarhus University Hospital, David Hougaard, Head of Department at Statens Seruminstitut (SSI), Professor Preben Bo Mortensen, Aarhus University, Professor Merete Nordentoft and Professor Thomas Werge, Mental Health Services – Capital Region of Denmark.

children are seven and visited again several times in later life. The aim is to identify whether mental illness may already begin to develop when children are small, and whether there is any connection to mental illness in the parents. And the study has already shown results. It seems that, on average, motor function and cognitive function in children of parents with mental illness are inferior to those of other children of the same age. There are also several children in the group with mental health diagnoses. Merete Nordentoft believes that these results offer hope of early intervention and, perhaps, prevention of serious development of the disorders – the study has great prospects. “Some of the major psychiatric disorders are presumably a combination of several different basic disorders, each with their own cause. And if we can identify some of these causal relations, and perhaps do something more specific about them, there’s hope for personalised therapies based on genetic profile, environment and clinical symptoms – today, everyone with the same general diagnosis gets pretty much the same treatment.” She believes this could also improve potential for prevention. If we find out that infections or infection-like mechanisms contribute to triggering

“This would take us a huge step further and, hopefully, help advance the science, changing our understanding of the brain and how it functions when it develops a psychological disorder.” Thomas Werge Professor Mental Health Services Capital Region of Denmark


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Denmark’s psychiatric research on the world map

FACTS ABOUT IPSYCH

1 In 2012, the project received the largest donation for research on mental illness to date: DKK 121 million from the Lundbeck Foundation. The Foundation granted a further DKK 120 million in 2015, and there’s a chance that there will be another donation of DKK 120 million in 2018.

psychological disorders in genetically predisposed individuals, we would be able to target the disease in a completely different way – like we did years ago, when one in three patients on psychiatric wards were admitted due to psychosis and third stage syphilis. Once we were able to treat the disease with penicillin, we could stop its progress before the psychological symptoms appeared. “We’re not likely to see such results again. But if we could just identify five to six per cent who would respond to targeting the disease from a different angle, we would get far and help many.”

MORE PERSONALISED THERAPIES

The researchers are currently hoping for another donation of DKK 120 million so that they can continue the iPSYCH study for a further three years. “This would take us a huge step further and, hopefully, help advance the science, changing our understanding of the brain and how it functions when it develops a psychological disorder. We also hope to help facilitate the transformation of our findings into new drugs and to give clinics and psychiatrists tools to improve their differentiation of patients, provide more personalised therapies and improve predictions,” says Thomas Werge.

2 The project’s official name is the Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research – iPSYCH for short.

The iPSYCH study focuses on five different psychological disorders: autism, ADHD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. These are at the top of the list of disorders that impose the greatest burden on society in terms of lost productivity, early retirement benefits, treatment and care. To those affected by mental illness and their families, the human cost of these disorders – with which many struggle for years – is high. But by studying the disorders from a number of different angles and combining data in new ways, across scientific fields, this study may bring hope to sufferers and benefit society. “The long-term perspectives and specific goals of the iPSYCH research are to use the understanding of the causes of psychological disorders to relieve suffering from disabling disorders and reduce the cost to society,” says Anne-Marie Engel

3 The project primarily studies five mental disorders: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, autism and ADHD.

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MEET THE GREAT DANISH ∑ SCI NTISTS In 2016, the second season of the critically acclaimed series Great Danish Scientists rolled across Danish television screens on DR K. The aim of the series is not merely to give an account of great scientists of the past but to generate more interest in natural science – and maybe even help solve the problem of tomorrow’s shortage of engineers and natural scientists

TEXT Michael Friislund PHOTO DR


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Meet the great Danish scientists

45

“Research, whether it be scientific, social or humanistic, is the only reason why we’re not still living our lives like animals on the savannah or dying of a simple infection,”

Johan Olsen, Rock singer and scientist

Ebba Lund was the first and only female professor at the Agricultural University of Denmark until her retirement in 1993. She was a member of the resistance cell Holger Danske throughout World War II.

ost Danes know of Niels Bohr, the founder of quantum mechanics who helped develop nuclear power, and Tycho Brahe, who not only changed our view of the firmament but, with his systematic and precise measurements, laid the foundation for scientific methods used all over the world today. But these are only two of the many Danish scientists who have made their way into the international science books. The Lundbeck Foundation has funded a new season of Great Danish Scientists, shown on DR K in the autumn of 2016.

Season 2 focuses on six, new scientists, all of whom have delivered groundbreaking research and made their mark on the world we live in. Scientist and rock singer Johan Olsen is back as the programme’s host. “We forget that many of the things we take for granted today, such as heating, lights and electricity, are the result of science. Snapchatting photos is based on hundreds of scientific breakthroughs. Research, whether it be scientific, social or humanistic, is the only reason why we’re not still living our lives like animals on the savannah or dying of a simple infection,” Johan Olsen explains. He himself lives a double life as a researcher

on the structure of proteins at the University of Copenhagen and as the lead singer in Danish rock band Magtens Korridorer. “So it seems obvious to focus on great Danish scientific heroes of the past and their research – both to honour them and their work and to remind ourselves what we can achieve if we take science seriously. This is what really motivated me to become a researcher,” says Johan Olsen. One of the aims of this series about great Danish scientists was to stimulate the interest of even the youngest school children in science.


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Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Meet the great Danish scientists

Astronomer and engineer Ole Rømer (1644-1710) proved that light has a finite speed – and not the opposite, as previously thought. He worked in Copenhagen’s Round Tower where the section on the astronomy professor is partly filmed.

According to the Confederation of Danish Industry, Denmark will be short of almost 10,000 engineers and science graduates by 2020. “Lots of kids have the idea that science is desperately boring – that’s it’s all about dull experiments in labs and spending hours reading largely incomprehensible texts. But actually, in my experience, young people become deeply interested in science once they hear about it. And that’s one of the things I hope to help with: inspiring young people to continue their journey into the scientific universe,” says Johan Olsen. This aim to reach more people – and particularly the young – is the reason for the entertaining style of the series: “It had to be catchy and comprehensible to everyone, even those who haven’t studied maths at upper secondary level. We include elements of fiction and drama, bringing the scientists to life with actors, and we skip in time and place to connect the story and hold the viewer’s interest. Johan Olsen enters into a dialogue with the scientists and takes us with him when he conducts experiments in nature and in the lab,” explains Martin Sundstrøm, editor at DR History and one of the creators of the series

August Krogh – Physiology Ebba Lund – Virology H.C. Ørsted – Electro-magnetism Inge Lehmann – The core of the Earth Niels Bohr – The nuclear model Niels Finsen – Radiotherapy Niels Steensen – Geology Ole Rømer – Astronomy Peter Panum – Physiology Peter W. Lund – Palaeontology Tycho Brahe – Astronomy Willi Dansgaard – Glaciology

All of the episodes in the series and the associated teaching materials are available at www.dr.dk/undervisning


Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017 Lundbeckfonden - at a glance

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LUNDBECKFONDEN - AT A GLANCE BETTER LIVES THROUGH NEW KNOWLEDGE

The Lundbeck Foundation was established in 1954 by Grete Lundbeck and is today one of Denmark’s largest industrial foundations with three subsidiaries with approx. 36,000 employees and a net wealth of DKK 61.3 bn. Our mission is to create, inspire and share new knowledge by awarding grants primarily to Danish-based biomedical sciences research. We distribute almost DKK 500 m a year for this purpose. Half of our grants go to brain health, our special focus area.

Grants awarded in 2016

DDK

493 million

half of which went to brain health including The Brain Prize

Invest

40%

Ventures

Ownership interest entitled to vote 67%

We manage our available assets of approximately

DKK

Emerge

14 billion

ourselves. Our commercial activities include a portfolio of

20 biotech companies

in the USA and Europe, and we invest in small-scale, biotech start-ups based on Danish research.

57%

Ownership interest

70%

Ownership interest

Follow us on:

@Lundbeckfonden

AMBITION

VALUES

It is the Lundbeck Foundation’s aim to make Denmark the world’s leading brain research nation.

Innovative - we take the lead Respectful - we build relations Dedicated - we add value

@Lundbeckfonden

@Lundbeckfonden


The Magazine  

Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017

The Magazine  

Lundbeckfonden Magazine 2016-2017