Great medical prize for Danish researchers on cancer and HIV/AIDS – University of Copenhagen

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28 June 2016

Great medical prize for Danish researchers on cancer and HIV/AIDS

THE KFJ PRIZE

On Tuesday 21 June, the Kirsten and Freddy Johansen’s Foundation presented the great and renowned KFJ Prize. This year, the recipients were two internationally recognized Danish researchers. Professor Jens D. Lundgren was awarded the Clinical Prize in recognition of his pioneering research on HIV/AIDS while Professor Elsebeth Lynge was awarded the Pre-clinical Prize for her seminal work on early diagnosis of cancer. They each receive DKK 1.5 million.

“I’m particularly proud that both scientists, each in their own field, have had great international impact. They’ve generated important results for large groups of patients with life-threatening diseases and they actively assist in endeavours to solve the world’s great medical and health challenges. At the same time, they are both excellent communicators of their research areas, and they most certainly deserve to be honoured today,” stated Dean Ulla Wewer from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.

A pioneer in preventive cancer treatments
In epidemiology, screening and early diagnosis of cancer, Elsebeth Lynge has generated ground-breaking results which have formed the basis of our health services’ current offer of early screenings in relation to a number of cancer diseases. She is internationally recognized for her many years of research on epidemiology and public health based on extensive data collections among the Danish population.

The Danish endeavours to fight cancer are specifically based on screenings as a preventive measure. Screenings are offered to locate early stages of breast cancer or cervical cancer, which enables doctors to start treatments early, which will then prohibit the further development of the disease and thus increase the chances of being cured. Elsebeth Lynge has been one of the decisive driving forces behind the now common practice of early diagnosis in the Danish health services.

“I’m very grateful for this prize. I’ve worked to ensure that we have substantial knowledge on screenings, as this enables us to reduce mortalities in connection with breast and cervical cancers. Furthermore, counterbalancing social barriers has been very important to me, as this will ensure that everybody is offered the same treatments throughout our healthcare system. This recognition makes me very happy and it motivates me to focus on new subjects,” says Elsebeth Lynge.

Professor, MSc, Elsebeth Lynge
Elsebeth Lynge started her career by investigating the importance of social conditions in relation to the development of diseases. Over the years, she has collaborated closely with clinical environments in order to assess the effect of screenings for breast and cervical cancer among women. She is internationally recognized for her many years of research on epidemiology and public health and she has extensive experience with data collections in connection with large population studies.

Elsebeth Lynge (born 1948) graduated as Master of Science from the University of Copenhagen in 1974. In 1978, she was appointed Assistant Professor at Aarhus University. In 1986, she became Head of Research at the Danish Cancer Society, and in 1998, she was appointed Professor of Epidemiology at the Department of Public Health at the Faculty of Health and Medical and Sciences, UCPH, where she now heads the Centre for Epidemiology and Screening. In addition, she has been active on a number of research committees and she is also board member of Statistics Denmark.

Reduced risk of dying from HIV/AIDS
In 2015, research conducted by Jens D. Lundgren and his colleagues led to the WHO changing their guidelines for the treatment of people infected with the HIV virus. This meant that millions of people with HIV are now offered antiviral treatment immediately after being diagnosed. This early effort will prolong patients’ lives markedly while also improving their quality of life.

Currently, there are approx. 35 million people infected with HIV globally, however, less than 17 million are in treatment, which is why the new guidelines will have a huge impact on the future global fight to treat HIV/AIDS. As a remarkable added bonus, Jens D. Lundgren’s research also revealed that early treatment might prevent the development of other diseases, including cancer and tuberculosis.

“We’ve reached a milepost in research on HIV and it’s of great importance to the global guidelines on treatments. These results are primarily due to excellent collaborations with incredibly talented colleagues whose enthusiasm and professional knowledge has helped us obtain several pioneering results that will benefit many people. I’m very honoured to receive this prize and happy that SUND recognizes the importance of this field of research,” says Jens D. Lundgren.

Among his colleagues, Jens D. Lundgren is known as a scientist with great curiosity and energy. He distinguishes himself by being a clever entrepreneur and the driving force in a number of large international research networks. Currently, he heads PERSIMUNE – a centre for basic research, where they try to locate factors that make some patients fall ill because of their immune deficiency while others stay clear.

Professor and Consultant Doctor Jens D. Lundgren
Jens D. Lundgren is one of the world’s leading researchers on HIV/AIDS and he heads several large, multinational research networks, both globally and in Europe. He is Editor in Chief of the internationally renowned medical journal, HIV Medicine, and he has chaired several nationally and internationally important meetings and conferences. Previously, he has received large research scholarships from EU, EMA and NIH.

Jens D. Lundgren (1960) graduated from the University of Copenhagen in 1987, after which he worked at the NIH Bethesda in the US from 1987-89. He specialized in internal medicine, inflectional medicine and tropical medicine at Hvidovre Hospital, Frederiksberg Hospital and Rigshospitalet, and he was appointed Consultant Doctor at Hvidovre Hospital in 1998. In 2005, he was appointed Professor of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology at the University of Copenhagen, and in 2007, he became Consultant Doctor at the Department of Infectious Diseases at Rigshospitalet and Professor of Viral Diseases. In 2016, he was appointed Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Copenhagen. In addition, he is Associated Professor at University College London and Universität Köln.

The award show took place in the Banquet Hall at Frue Plads, UCPH, on 21 June 2016.

Contact:

Jens D. Lundgren
Phone: +45 4087 9303
Email: Jens.Lundgren@regionH.DK

Elsebeth Lynge
Phone: +45 3532 7635
Email: elsebeth.lynge@sund.ku.dk

Andreas Westergaard
Senior Communications Advisor, SUND
Phone: +45 5359 3280
Email: andreas.westergaard@sund.ku.dk