From student to pharmacology specialist

For many years, in vivo pharmacologists have been in short supply in Denmark. In vivo pharmacologists safeguard ethical standards and design and evaluate the animal studies that the industry needs to conduct to move their products through the clinical trial process and ultimately ready for patient use.

Novo Nordisk is one of the companies that always needs highly-specialized in vivo pharmacologists to design and test new medicines on animals. This is a complicated process and for this reason, Novo Nordisk have entered into a partnership with The University of Copenhagen and the Department for Veterinary Disease Biology to create the LIFEPHARM Centre. This is to ensure the education and training of the most highly- skilled in vivo pharmacologists internationally. Post-Doc Vivi Flou Hjorth Jensen is one of the 36 in vivo pharmacologists from The LIFEPHARM Centre. Today, she has a position in the Toxicology, Safety Pharmacology and Pathology Department at Novo Nordisk.

She has been hired to run a project that is investigating the effects of low blood sugar levels over a long period of time. This work supports the development of new insulin preparations for the treatment of diabetes. Vivi’s project includes the measurement of biomarkers and other specialized measurements on tissue in animals.

”My work consists of dosing insulin in healthy animals to see what happens in the body when it has low blood sugar. This requires specialist knowledge about physiology and I continuously draw on my understanding of how the body functions”, says In vivo pharmacologist, Vivi Flou Hjort.

Every day, she draws on the skills that she acquired during her education at the University of Copenhagen. She uses the LIFEPHARM Centre as a bridge to connect academic knowledge with her everyday practice at Novo Nordisk.

”I can contribute through the experience I have gained in academia, and can continually gain new knowledge about research and data through our cooperation with The LIFEPHARM Centre. This benefits both the centre and my current place of work”, says Vivi Flou Hjort.

”It is hugely important that we are good enough to educate scientific employees who can meet the vital needs of the industry. This will also mean that companies keep their research and development in this country. Our graduates have unique skills that ultimately have a huge impact, not only on research, but also from a socio-economic perspective”, says Professor Jens Lykkesfeldt, Director of the LIFEPHARM Centre.

In Denmark, it is a statutory requirement that new medicines must be tested on animals first to gain advance knowledge of the efficacy and safety of the preparation before tests are carried out on humans.