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The Novo Nordisk Foundation Awards Grants Worth Dkk 80 Million to Talented Danish and International Researchers

22 May
2018

In spring 2018, the Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded more than DKK 80 million in grants to 24 talented, Danish and international researchers. The grant recipients are postdoctoral fellows, group leaders or clinical researchers, all of whom do exceptional scientific work within the medical sciences and biotechnology.

The grants were presented to the recipients at an official celebration at the Foundation’s headquarters on 8 May 2018. The grant recipients gave short presentations on their research projects to an audience that included their family, friends, and research collaborators. The Foundation’s Chief Scientific Officer Niels-Henrik von Holstein-Rathlou hosted the celebration along with several members of the Foundation’s scientific committees, who presented the recipients and congratulated them on their achievements.

All the recipients received their grants based on their submitted applications and were selected by the Foundation’s scientific committees, whose members are researchers and experts within their respective fields.

See all the grant recipients and a short presentation of their projects below.

 

The grant recipients and their research projects:

RESEARCH STIPEND IN GENERAL PRACTICE (2):

 

Rasmus Køster-Rasmussen, MD, PhD
Grant amount:
 DKK 1,596,856
Grant duration: 4 years
Place of research: Research Unit for General Practice, University of Copenhagen
Project title: MUVAP – Exercise without Weight Loss in General Practice
Abstract: How do we best manage obese people in general practice? Most obese individuals cannot maintain weight loss, leaving them frustrated and stressed. However, physical activity is healthy regardless of whether it results in weight loss or not. MUVAP is a pragmatic trial set in general practice in Denmark. The aim is to make obese people exercise without focusing on weight. The intervention is counting steps using the patients’ own smartphones and consultations with the patients’ general practitioner. The outcome measures are step counts and change in quality of life. The basic idea is “Don’t count kilos – count kilometers”.

 

 

Anders Prior, MD, PhD, GP trainee
Grant amount:
 DKK 1,600,000
Grant duration: 4 years
Place of research: Research Unit for General Practice, Department of Public Health, Aarhus University
Project title: Complex Multimorbidity and Healthcare Pathways in General Practice
Abstract: This programme aims to evaluate whether effective healthcare provided by general practitioners can improve the prognosis of patients with complex disease history and multiple conditions (multimorbidity). These patients often experience their care as fragmented. We will develop a prediction model of complex multimorbidity that can identify patients with the highest risk of preventable hospitalizations and death by using information on physical and mental health, treatments, lifestyle, and socioeconomic factors from the Danish health registries and health surveys. Furthermore, we will investigate healthcare utilization in the primary and secondary health sectors to characterize the fragmentation of care and to test different primary care treatment strategies. The findings may help general practitioners to reduce the risk of suboptimal healthcare for those with the greatest and most complex needs.

 

BORREGAARD CLINICAL SCIENTIST FELLOWSHIP (4):

 

Henrik Kjærulf Jensen, Associate Professor
Grant amount: DKK 5,000,000
Grant duration: 5 years
Place of research: Aarhus University Hospital
Project title: Preventing Deaths in Inherited Heart Disease by Improving Clinical and Molecular-genetic Diagnosis
Abstract: Heart diseases are the second most frequent cause of death in Denmark. A frequent presentation is sudden cardiac death, where inherited heart diseases can be the underlying cause. It has been estimated that at least 50,000 Danes live with an inherited heart disease. In recent years, new molecular-genetic techniques have become available and can facilitate new insight into the causes of inherited heart diseases. The overall aim for the work is to reduce the risk and tragedy of sudden cardiac death by optimizing diagnostic approaches and treatment among patients with inherited heart diseases. The work enables improved clinical and molecular-genetic diagnosis and precision medicine treatment.

 

 

Christina Rostrup Kruuse, Research Associate Professor, MD, DMSc, PhD
Grant amount:
 5,000,000
Grant duration: 5 years
Place of research: Herlev Gentofte Hospital
Project title: Small Vessel Disease Stroke – Personalized Treatment
Abstract: Dysfunction of the small vessels of the brain is a frequent cause of stroke and dementia, with major impact on the quality of life. Except for treatment of the major risk factors, hypertension and diabetes, no specific treatment is available. In a strong national and international collaborative network, we perform a unique combination of investigator-initiated, proof-of-concept studies to explore new treatment regimens and systematic data collection to unveil the secrets of the disease. These projects will be essential to resolve new treatment to individually target cerebral small vessel disease and prevent the devastating physical and cognitive effects of this condition.

 

 

Søren Nielsen, Chief Physician
Grant amount:
 DKK 4,875,410
Grant duration: 5 years
Place of research: Aarhus University Hospital
Project title: Hepatic and Cardiac Metabolic Flexibility in NAFLD and NASH. Effects of Exercise, GLP-1 Agonist and SGLT-2 Inhibitor Treatment
Abstract: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) covers a spectrum from reversible hepatic steatosis to inflammation and fibrosis termed steatohepatitis (NASH) and cirrhosis. New evidence indicates that NAFLD is associated with development of heart failure, abnormal ventricular glucose and fatty acid (FA) utilization and cardiosteatosis. The mechanisms behind cardiac involvement and the progression from NAFLD to NASH are poorly understood but must include altered cardiac and intrahepatic lipid handling. In collaboration with renowned research groups from Oxford, the Mayo Clinic and Copenhagen, we plan comprehensive kinetic studies of heart and liver FA uptake and oxidation, ventricular function and substrate utilization, and hepatic triglyceride (TG) secretion in order to assess mechanisms governing cardiac and hepatic lipid and glucose trafficking in subjects with NAFLD and NASH and the relationship with heart function. In addition, we will assess skeletal muscle and adipose tissue enzyme activities, gene expression and protein concentrations in these subjects to define mechanisms involved in the cross-talk between heart, liver, muscle and adipose tissues. We will address these questions using innovative tracer techniques ([11C]-palmitate, [11C]acetate, 18FDG PET tracers and TG tracers) in combination with hepatic vein catheterization to study cardiac and liver substrate trafficking, as well as NMR spectroscopy, echocardiography, muscle and fat biopsies in combination with state-of-the art muscle and adipose tissue enzyme kinetics and gene and protein expression. Effects of acute exercise as well as GLP-1 agonist and SGLT-2 inhibitor treatment (alone and in combination) will be assessed. The overarching goals are to define abnormalities and differences between NAFLD and NASH in hepatic lipid (FA and TG) metabolism and to assess the effect of exercise and pharmacological treatment on both hepatic, cardiac and adipose and skeletal muscle lipid and substrate utilization.

 

 

Susanne Dam Poulsen, Associate Professor, MD, DMSc
Grant amount:
 DKK 5,000,000
Grant duration: 5 years
Place of research: University of Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet
Project title: Immune Function as Predictor of Clinical Outcomes in Patients Receiving Immune Modulating Therapy
Abstract: Use of immune modulating therapy (IMT) is increasing and often used in the treatment of patients after solid organ transplantation (SOT) and in patients with autoimmune diseases or HIV infection. In many patients, the use of IMT is uncomplicated, but some patients experience complications often due to infections and, in SOT recipients, also due to rejections of the transplanted organ. We aim to determine whether immune function can predict clinical outcomes, including infections and rejections, in patients receiving IMT. Furthermore, we aim to design prediction models to identify patients with high risk of adverse outcomes. Improved understanding of the immune function in patients receiving IMT may promote a shift from empirical treatment to personalized medicine, with expected improved patient outcomes.

 

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIPS WITHIN BIOTECHNOLOGY-BASED SYNTHESIS AND PRODUCTION (7):

Gaston Courtade, PhD
Grant amount:
 DKK 2,420,000
Grant duration: 3 years
Place of research: NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology and University of Copenhagen
Project title: LinkD: Linker Dynamics in Lignocellulosic Biomass Degrading Enzymes
Abstract: Shifting to a greener economy means replacing oil-based goods with biobased goods. One of the best raw materials for producing biobased goods is cellulose: a sugar polymer found in all plants and the most abundant form of biomass on Earth. However, an obstacle to the widespread use of cellulose as a source of biobased goods is that cellulose is very difficult to break down into its building blocks. Nature has fortunately provided us with a set of enzymes (tiny molecular machines), which facilitate cellulose degradation and conversion. Many of these enzymes are actually made up of two parts that are connected together by a linker, but we do not fully understand how these parts work together, and the function of the linker is even more enigmatic. In the LinkD project we want to characterize the structure of each of the parts of these enzymes and model how they move in a molecular scale. Hopefully, this knowledge will help us in designing new enzymes that will be even better at breaking down cellulose, accelerating the shift towards a biobased economy.

 

 

Anders Højgaard Hansen, PhD in Natural Science, Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry
Grant amount: DKK 1,650,000
Grant duration: 2 years
Place of research: Technical University of Denmark
Project title: Biosynthetic Strategies for Development of Improved Antibody-based Drug Conjugates for Cancer Treatment
Abstract: This project aims at developing new and improved single-domain antibody (sdAb) drug conjugates for treatment of cancer. The first part covers biosynthesis and screening of recombinant sdAbs targeting human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). The second part includes design and synthesis of a novel bioconjugation “handle” and advanced enzymatically labile linkers with improved properties for selective cleavage of drugs inside the cancer cell. The last part combines bioconjugation of pre-derivatized linkers (produced in part two) to trastuzumab and HER2-selective sdAb candidates (produced in part one). The final antibody-based drug conjugates will undergo tests in cell-based models and in animal models to evaluate efficacy and safety.

 

 

Nina Molin Høyland-Kroghsbo, PhD
Grant amount:
 DKK 1,580,000
Grant duration: 2 years
Place of research: University of Copenhagen, Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences
Project title: Developing Potent Bacteriophage for Antimicrobial Therapy
Abstract: According to the World Health Organization, the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of the greatest threats to human health. New and effective therapies against this bacterium are urgently needed. My research aims to develop potent bacteriophage therapy against Pseudomonas aeruginosainfection. I will engineer the bacterium’s natural enemy, the bacteriophage, to block the bacterium’s cell–cell signalling. This prevents the bacterium from coordinating its disease-causing attack. Moreover, I will make the bacteriophage more effective in killing the bacterium and thereby cure the disease.

 

 

Silas Mellor, PhD
Grant amount:
 DKK 2,380,000
Grant duration: 3 years
Place of research: Copenhagen Plant Science Center, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen
Project title: Integrating Approaches to Develop Nicotiana tabacum as a Small Molecule Production Platform
Abstract: Commercial value and sustainability are important drivers pushing the field of biobased molecule production. While microorganisms represent the current gold standard production systems used by this rapidly progressing field, plants are attractive – but underdeveloped – as next-generation production hosts. They provide ready access to industrial-scale production facilities and efficient use of resources. This project proposes to develop the crop plant Nicotiana tabacumtowards use as an industrially relevant next-generation biomanufacturing host. By integrating innovative technologies such as light-driven biosynthesis and high-throughput genetic transformations, the project will highlight the potential of plant-based production to our future bioeconomy and aims to push plants to the frontiers of modern biomanufacturing.

 

 

Karel Miettinen, postdoctoral fellow
Grant amount: DKK 1,580,000
Grant duration: 2 years
Place of research: University of Copenhagen
Project title: CYPsensor: A Synthetic Biology Design for a Universal In Vivo Cytochrome P450-substrate Interaction Biosensor
Abstract: Cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYPs) are found in all domains of life and represent an immense potential for industrial bioproduction of chemicals and biomedical applications such as drug discovery. However, exploitation of this markedly versatile family of enzymes is still hampered by the lack of high-throughput methods for CYP discovery, characterization and engineering. To help overcome this limitation, synthetic biology principles will be applied and an interdisciplinary approach taken to develop a new type of yeast-based biosensor depending on a novel sensing mechanism that can be used to display productive interactions of any CYP with any substrate. This sensor has a great number of potential applications, for example, in the development and optimization of industrial biocatalysts and biomedical assays.

 

 

Johan Andersen-Ranberg, PhD
Grant amount:
 DKK 1,560,000
Grant duration: 2 years
Place of research: Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences. Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen
Project title: DeepBlueC – Biosynthesis of Carotenoids for Oceanic Blue Light Dependent Photosynthesis
Abstract: Marine algae are important but understudied allies in the pursuit of a more biobased future. Not only are they responsible for the majority of the CO2fixation on Earth, they also represent an untapped resource of complex molecules that can be of great use in our society. DeepBlueC will uncover essential steps in how carotenoids that can only be found in marine algae are made. In algae the carotenoids partake in light harvesting for photosynthesis and algae growth that are essential for the marine ecosystem. With their colourful properties and potential use as medicine and nutraceuticals, algae specific carotenoids have many uses in our modern society, and thus in DeepBlueC alternative biosustainable methods for producing the algal carotenoids will also be established.

 

 

Mariela Paula Mezzina, PhD
Grant amount:
 DKK 2,230,000
Grant duration: 3 years
Place of research: Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, Technical University of Denmark
Project title: PHAME – Phasin-mediated Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) Metabolic Channeling Platform for Efficient Bioproduction in Bacteria
Abstract: Metabolic engineering seeks to provide an alternative for the production of biochemicals as a sustainable replacement of fossil-based chemical production, yet many issues still need to be overcome to achieve efficient biochemical production in bacteria. PHAME aims to circumvent these drawbacks by developing an intracellular “nanofactory”, produced by the same bacteria, that anchors and connects biosynthetic enzymes to favour transformation of the substrate into the desired product. PHAME will be adopted for enhanced synthesis of bulk chemicals and specialty chemicals for the pharmaceutical industry.

 

EXCELLENCE PROJECT FOR YOUNG RESEARCHERS WITHIN ENDOCRINOLOGY AND METABOLISM (4):

Kirstine Nyvold Bojsen-Møller, MD, PhD
Grant amount:
 DKK 5,000,000
Grant duration: 5 years
Place of research: Department of Endocrinology, Hvidovre Hospital, Copenhagen
Project title: Mechanisms of Diabetes Remission after Sleeve Gastrectomy
Abstract: Bariatric surgery involves surgical alterations of the gastrointestinal tract used for the treatment of severe obesity. Gastric bypass is the gold standard operation, whereas sleeve gastrectomy is a newer and less complicated procedure. Both surgeries introduce major weight losses (about 40 kg) and marked effects on type 2 diabetes. The majority of patients experience remission of diabetes and often within days after surgery, independent of weight loss. The project will uncover the mechanisms behind diabetes remission after sleeve gastrectomy compared with gastric bypass. This could reveal new targets for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity without surgery.

 

 

Thomas McWilliams, Assistant Professor of Mitochondrial Medicine
Grant amount:
 DKK 5,000,000
Grant duration: 5 years
Place of research: University of Helsinki, Finland
Project title: Unravelling the Regulation of Basal Mitophagy in Endocrine Dysfunction
Abstract: Mammalian cells are critically dependent on their mitochondria for survival, and links between mitochondrial dysfunction and human disease are well established. Elimination of defective or superfluous mitochondria occurs via the autophagy pathway, in a quality control (QC) process known as mitophagy. Due to a lack of tools, the relationship between physiological mitophagy and development and pathology has remained largely unexplored. I have developed and characterized a novel reporter mouse model called “mito-QC”, enabling for the first time the study of mitochondrial architecture and turnover at subcellular resolution in vivo (McWilliams TG et al, J Cell Biol 2016). This work revealed that mitophagy is a basal process with dramatic spatiotemporal heterogeneity in vivo, particularly in tissues of high metabolic demand, such as pancreatic, neural and renal tissue. My new findings provide the first demonstration of both PTEN-induced putative kinase 1 (PINK1)-independent mitophagy pathways in vivo (McWilliams TG et al., Cell Metab 2018). These discoveries provoke fundamental questions about the roles of vertebrate mitophagy and its relationship to metabolism in vivo. My hypothesis is that differences in mitophagic capacity of cellular subtypes underpin their selective vulnerability in disease. The combination of my expertise in classical and contemporary cell biology with new reporter mouse models provides a timely opportunity to investigate the contribution of mitochondrial homeostasis in a variety of physiological contexts, especially in well-controlled paradigms of metabolic dysfunction. My work in this area provides a solid basis for a major research programme in this new and unexplored field.

 

 

Lykke Sylow, PhD
Grant amount:
 DKK 5,000,000
Grant duration: 5 years
Place of research: University of Copenhagen
Project title: Identifying Key Orchestrators of Pathways in the Interactions between Metabolism, Insulin Sensitivity and Muscle Wasting
Abstract: The preservation of skeletal muscle mass and strength is crucial for maintaining an independent lifestyle and is inversely associated with death from all causes. Skeletal muscle wasting is a common process in several conditions, including diabetes, ageing and up to 80% of all cases of cancer. Although most muscle-wasting conditions are characterized by dysregulated metabolism, this has been largely overlooked, and the cause of this phenomenon is unclear. Skeletal muscle has a critical role in glycaemic control and metabolic homeostasis and is the predominant site of glucose disposal under insulin-stimulated conditions. I propose that skeletal muscle metabolism and insulin sensitivity are intricately linked to the regulation of skeletal muscle mass.

 

 

Anna Wredenberg, MD, PhD
Grant amount: 
DKK 5,000,000
Grant duration: 5 years
Place of research: Karolinska Institutet
Project title: Mitochondrial Dysfunction – a Means to Understanding Genetic and Metabolic Responses in Health and Disease
Abstract: Mitochondria form a central hub in cellular metabolism, and their dysfunction can have profound effects with significant consequences for human health. However, how mitochondrial dysfunction affects the metabolic network is not fully understood, leaving numerous patients yet undiagnosed. To understand the cellular changes caused by mitochondrial dysfunction, I will introduce clinically relevant metabolic stresses during early fruit fly embryo development and measure the initial genetic, metabolic and proteomic responses. This will allow me to identify new biomarkers for disease as well as dissect beneficial signals for novel treatment strategies. The findings will be confirmed and tested in patients.

 

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP WITHIN ENDOCRINOLOGY/METABOLISM AT INTERNATIONAL ELITE RESEARCH ENVIRONMENTS (3):

 

Robert Koivula, PhD
Grant amount:
 DKK 4,000,000
Grant duration: 4 years
Place of research: University of Oxford
Nordic host institution: Lund University
Project title: Characterizing the Relationship between Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Type 2 Diabetes Using Genetic Insights
Abstract: My research project will be looking to disentangle the complex relationship between two related metabolic diseases – non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and type 2 diabetes (T2D). NAFLD and T2D frequently coexist, but the causal relationships between them are poorly understood. Important clues are provided by human genetics: variants significantly associated with NAFLD risk have widely divergent effects on T2D: at genes PNPLA3 and TM6SF2, NAFLD risk alleles predispose to T2D, whereas in genes GCKR and PPP1R3B, they are protective. These findings highlight heterogeneous mechanisms underlying NAFLD, which, I hypothesize, reflect primary defects in hepatic lipid output (HLO) and hepatic glucose output (HGO) respectively. These findings will deliver a detailed mechanistic description of the NAFLD–T2D relationship, with substantial biological and clinical implications for personalized medicine.

 

 

Milena Schönke, PhD
Grant amount: 
DKK 3,987,089
Grant duration: 4 years
Place of research: Leiden University Medical Center
Nordic host institution: Karolinska Institutet
Project title: Running from Cardiometabolic Disease: Role of Lipoprotein Metabolism and the Timing of Exercise
Abstract: Obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, where atherosclerotic plaques form in the walls of blood vessels as a result of a disturbed lipid metabolism. Exercise improves metabolic health, but it is not fully understood how it protects against atherosclerosis. We will investigate the molecular effects of exercise training on the development and progression of atherosclerosis in obese mice. Here we will focus specifically on the metabolic regulation of lipoproteins, complexes that transport lipids in the blood. Since most metabolic processes in the body are adjusted to demands connected to the time of day (or night) by internal clocks, we will furthermore investigate whether the timing of training has an impact on its effect on cardiovascular health.

 

 

Sally Winther, postdoctoral fellow
Grant amount:
 DKK 3,946,397
Grant duration: 4 years
Place of research: Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Nordic host institute: University of Copenhagen
Project title: New Avenues for Increasing Energy Expenditure – Succinate as a Brown Fat Activator
Abstract: The global increase in obesity and its associated diseases such as type 2 diabetes is an increasing burden on public health. A new strategy in treating obesity is to increase energy expenditure pharmacologically by activating brown fat. When the brown fat is activated, it burns large amounts of fat and sugar, producing heat in a process called thermogenesis. As a unique feature, we have discovered that, when brown fat cells are activated, they accumulate large amounts of succinate and that this helps boost their energy consumption. This research project aims to identify how brown fat specifically accumulates this metabolite and how succinate subsequently controls thermogenesis and energy expenditure. With this study, we hope to integrate metabolite signalling as an important regulatory element in the activation of brown fat. It has already been shown in humans that activating brown fat can cause weight loss and increase insulin sensitivity, underlining its valuable therapeutic potential in maintaining healthy metabolic status.

 

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP FOR RESEARCH ABROAD – BIOSCIENCE AND BASIC BIOMEDICINE (4):

Simon Erlendsson, Cand.Scient., PhD
Grant amount:
 DKK 4,000,000
Grant duration: 4 years
Place of research: Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC-LMB), Cambridge, United Kingdom
Danish host institution: University of Copenhagen
Project title: Synaptic Plasticity by Viral Mimicry
Abstract: Synaptic plasticity is a process in which neurons are able to modulate their response upon external stimulation. Arc is a gene that is essential for regulation of plasticity in specialized neurons responsible for cognition, learning and memory, and it has recently been found that Arc has been domesticated from an ancient retroviral infection and that the Arc protein still self-assembles into viral-like particles in our brains. These Arc particles represents a novel and unexplored mechanism for maintaining synaptic homeostasis and plasticity and suggest a link between retroviral infections and the evolution of the human brain. This project aims to understand the structure of the Arc endogenous viral particles by utilizing state-of-the-art cryoelectron tomography and thereby provide insights into their function and role in synaptic plasticity.

 

 

Pernille Madsen, postdoctoral fellow
Grant amount:
 DKK 3,999,073
Grant duration: 4 years
Place of research: Center for Translational Neuromedicine, University of Rochester Medical Center
Danish host institution: University of Copenhagen
Project title: A Humanized Mouse Model of Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease: Molecular Mechanisms of Myelination and Perspectives for Cell-based Therapy
Abstract: Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD) is a childhood genetic disorder. In PMD, oligodendrocytes, the specialized cells that generate the fatty myelin sheaths that protect nerve cells in the central nervous system, carry a mutation in the myelin gene, PLP1. This mutation results in dysfunctional myelin and childhood fatality. We will explore the potential for a cell-based replacement strategy. By reprogramming PMD patients’ skin cells to oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs), we will investigate the genomic and anatomic mechanisms governing human myelination in a humanized mouse model. Using genetic editing techniques, we will correct PMD patient mutations and ask whether genetically corrected cells can sufficiently myelinate and rescue our model. This approach builds a foundation for patient-relevant modelling and may provide new knowledge for OPC-based therapy for many childhood myelin disorders.

 

 

Mei Mei Jaslyn Elizabeth Wong, PhD
Grant amount:
 DKK 3,440,571
Grant duration: 4 years
Place of research: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Danish host institution: Aarhus University
Project title: Cryoelectron Tomography Studies of the mTORC1 and mTORC2 Complexes Assembled on Lipid Membranes
Abstract: The mammalian mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) is a central regulator of cell metabolism, growth, proliferation and survival, through integration of at least four major signals: growth factors, energy status, oxygen and amino acids. Deregulation of the mTOR pathway is implicated in many pathological conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and cancer. mTOR nucleates two distinct complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2. The goal of the project is to assemble the mTORC1 and mTORC2 supercomplexes on lipid membranes and to determine the structures via cryoelectron tomography. This could facilitate the design of new classes of mTOR inhibitors that target the membrane activation mechanism.

 

 

Christoffer Norn, MSc Eng
Grant amount:
 DKK 3,986,386
Grant duration: 4 years
Place of research: University of Washington
Danish host institution: University of Copenhagen
Project title: Computational Design of Modular Sensor Proteins
Abstract: We aim to create a new type of molecular sensors for diagnostic use and bioengineering. To do so, we use computers to design modular Lego-like protein building blocks that can be combined to bind target molecules. By designing sensors from scratch, they will be compatible with already-established molecular reporter technologies that can signal by shining light or altering the behaviour of a sensor organism. Through experimental characterization of millions of building block combinations, we also hope to identify principles of robust modular protein design, not only of value for sensor design, but also for better engineering of enzymes and biopharmaceuticals.

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