Apply for grants

Professor of Respiratory Medicine Receives the Hagedorn Prize

Jørgen Vestbo has been awarded the 2016 Hagedorn Prize for his assiduous and ambitious work over the past 30 years as a clinician and researcher on respiratory diseases.

The Danish Society for Internal Medicine and the Novo Nordisk Foundation award the Hagedorn Prize and the accompanying DKK 250,000 to recognize excellent research or development efforts within internal medicine in Denmark.

Jørgen Vestbo is an internationally recognized researcher who has particularly focused on investigating and understanding the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the fourth most common cause of death globally. In Denmark alone, 400,000 people have COPD, which is the most frequent reason for admission to medical wards.

Among other career milestones, Jørgen Vestbo has distinguished himself by leading a major transatlantic study of more than 2000 people with COPD. The study uncovered important new knowledge, showing that COPD often develops over a very long time and that the rate of deterioration varies from person to person. The study also revealed that a person’s ability to combat an ordinary common cold virus plays a role in the development of COPD. Jørgen Vestbo hopes that this knowledge can lead to better prevention and ability to treat the disease. This is not the case today, since medicine merely ameliorates the symptoms.

“The reason why researchers and the pharmaceutical industry have not been very successful in developing treatment for COPD is probably that we have largely treated everyone identically. We must become more skilled and divide the people with COPD into subgroups by measuring how advanced and active the disease is; then we must differentiate treatment. This is what I have been working on and what I would like to help to realize,” says Jørgen Vestbo, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Manchester and adjunct Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Southern Denmark.


Jørgen Vestbo’s research is interdisciplinary. The research integrates knowledge from laboratories, clinics, epidemiology and major population-based surveys. This approach has attracted attention, and Jørgen Vestbo has published more than 300 scientific articles.

Jørgen Vestbo has also gained international recognition as the President of the European Respiratory Society, which is instrumental in developing the international treatment strategies for COPD prepared by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD). The strategies have particular significance for low-income countries in Africa, Asia and South America, which have neither a national treatment strategy nor adequate access to medicine. The strategies thus help to ensure that people with COPD receive optimal treatment.


“It gives me great pleasure to receive the Hagedorn Prize. Many of my role models have previously been awarded the Prize, and I am both proud and humbled to be in such company. I am also pleased on behalf of this field. As far as I know, this is the first time that a researcher in respiratory medicine has received this Prize, and it is wonderful that this less high-profile specialty is being recognized,” says Jørgen Vestbo, who will use the accompanying research funds for new research into targeted individual treatment of COPD.

Pia Nimann Kannegaard, Chair of the Danish Society of Internal Medicine, says: “Jørgen Vestbo has obvious professional qualities that benefit both patients and colleagues. Throughout his career, he has been actively involved with COPD, a major noncommunicable disease, and continues to be extremely active in the field both as a clinician and as an internationally recognized researcher. In Denmark, Jørgen Vestbo has been a leading light within respiratory medicine, including chairing the Danish Society of Respiratory Medicine on multiple occasions. Jørgen Vestbo gives very high priority to teaching and supervising younger colleagues and thereby contributes to developing respiratory medicine.”

The Hagedorn Prize will be presented to Jørgen Vestbo on 18 March 2016 at the annual conference of the Danish Society of Internal Medicine.


Born: 1945

DrMedSci; Professor of Respiratory Medicine, University of Manchester; and honorary consultant, North West Lung Centre, University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom

Adjunct Professor of Respiratory Medicine, University of Southern Denmark

President, European Respiratory Society


The Danish Society of Internal Medicine awards the Hagedorn Prize to recognize excellent research or development efforts within internal medicine in Denmark. The accompanying award of DKK 250,000 includes a personal award of DKK 100,000 and an award for research or development work of DKK 150,000. The Prize also includes the Hagedorn Medal. The Novo Nordisk Foundation grants DKK 250,000 annually for awarding the Prize.


Jørgen Vestbo, [email protected], mobile: +45 3035 0317

Pia Nimann Kannegaard, Chair, Danish Society of Internal Medicine, [email protected], tel.: +45 3867 4239

Christian Mostrup Scheel, Press Officer, Novo Nordisk Foundation, [email protected], mobile: +45 3067 4805