Four new elite research units within asthma, cancer, osteoarthritis and childhood infections – University of Copenhagen

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28 June 2018

Four new elite research units within asthma, cancer, osteoarthritis and childhood infections

Elite research

The research academy Copenhagen Health Science Partners launches four new excellent research partnerships focussing on paediatric asthma, cancer, osteoarthritis and paediatric infections. The ambitious partnerships between the Capital Region of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen aim to contribute with knowledge and results of benefit to more patients.

A year has passed since the research academy Copenhagen Health Science Partners (CHSP) announced the names of its first excellent research partnerships, the so-called Clinical Academic Groups (CAGs). Based on positive experience and results, today the Capital Region of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen under the auspices of CHSP present another four CAGs focussing on research collaboration at the highest level. According to an international panel, the four new CAGs each have the potential to generate important new knowledge and results within central fields of treatment and patient groups.

The establishment of CHSP as a joint research academy was based on a wish to strengthen the professional bridge-building between basic research and patient-oriented research and treatment in the hospitals. At the same time, the new elite unit partnerships will contribute to strengthening education and competency development within the health sector.

‘We have many strong research environments both at the university and in the hospitals, and by strengthening the professional bridge-building we wish, through these CAGs, to facilitate greater collaboration across disciplines, departments, sections, working methods and traditions’, says Dean Ulla Wewer, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

The inspiration for both CHSP and the CAGs comes from King’s College in London, which successfully has managed to bring basic research and patient-based research in the hospitals closer together. Similarly, the largest university in Norway, NTNU in Trondheim, has begun work on a similar partnership inspired by the Danish model.

’The ambition behind the collaboration is to create the required framework for putting research into practice. Together the day-to-day management and research environments ensure a professional approach to disseminating research, thus increasing the quality of treatments’, says Diana Arsovic Nielsen, Director of the Centre for Regional Development in the Capital Region of Denmark.

The Regional Council of the Capital Region of Denmark has just approved and supported the expansion of CHSP with the four new CAGs.

’Through CHSP we can, together with the University of Copenhagen, facilitate large-scale projects and prioritisation within health research. And this is important, because when research and everyday clinical practice are brought closer together we can increase the state of health of patients and citizens in the Capital Region of Denmark’, says Lars Gaardhøj, Chairman of the Business, Growth and Research Committee in the Capital Region of Denmark.

Short descriptions of the four CAGs:

CAG Modulating the Infant Microbiome for Disease Prevention
In the Western world the prevalence of asthma and other chronic inflammatory diseases has more than doubled over the last 50 years. Between 250,000 and 300,000 adult Danes have been diagnosed with asthma, and a total of 7-10 per cent of all schoolchildren in Denmark suffer from asthma.

CAG Modulating the Infant Microbiome for Disease Prevention will therefore seek to improve prevention of chronic inflammatory diseases and treatment of paediatric asthma.

The CAG will strengthen existing knowledge of the role of intestinal bacteria in the development of chronic inflammatory diseases among children. Imbalance in the bacterial composition and maturation of the intestines and airways can affect children’s risk of developing asthma later in life. The overall aim of the CAG is therefore to understand the connection between the infant microbiome and the development of chronic inflammatory diseases.

The studies of the CAG will be based on a large amount of unique data collected from a mother-child group within the COPSAC2010 project. Over the last eight years the project has followed children with an imbalance in the bacterial compositions and thus increased risk of developing diseases. The mother-child group data offers a unique opportunity to outline the mechanisms that link the infant microbiome – before the emergence of disease – to the development of common chronic inflammatory diseases. The CAG will seek to develop new strategies for prevention and effective intervention targeted at the microbiome to protect the child from diseases.

Heads of the CAG: Hans Bisgaard and Søren J. Sørensen

CAG in Cancer Immunotherapy (CAGci)
One in every three Danes contracts cancer at some point in their lives, and just under 285,000 Danes live with a cancer diagnosis. In Denmark the one-year survival rate for cancer is 75 per cent for men and 77 per cent for women.

CAGci means to improve treatment with immunotherapy for cancer patients to ensure that more cancer patients survive.

Immunotherapy represents a significant breakthrough in cancer treatment, and new forms of immunotherapy are rapidly being approved for treatment of still more forms of cancer. The new treatment options indicate that far more patients, even where the disease has spread, can become survivors of cancer.

Immunotherapy is based on the immune system’s ability to approve and kill cancer cells and will lead to changes in most, if not all, forms of cancer treatment over the next few years.

However, the implementation of new forms of immunotherapy has been so rapid that many clinicians face pressing questions and challenges with regard to the treatment. The overall aim of CAGci is to develop evidence-based clinical solutions to these challenges and to offer evidence-based training of health staff in cancer immunotherapy.

Further development within immunotherapy will require greater knowledge exchange and collaboration between clinicians and researchers. CAGci has established a strong research-clinical partnership organisation between universities and hospitals in the Capital Region of Denmark. By strengthening the cross-institutional and cross-disciplinary knowledge exchange between clinicians and researchers within cancer immunotherapy CAGci will be able to explore the potential of immunotherapy of benefit to patients, relatives and society.

Heads of the CAG: Inge Marie Svane and Niels Ødum

CAG Host Infections Laboratory Research Drugs (CAG CHILD)
There is a need for fast and reliable diagnostics and effective prevention of infections. This lack causes 50 per cent of all children to be treated unnecessarily with antibiotics during the first two years of their life and 30 per cent to be hospitalised with an infection during childhood. This has significant socio-economic and human costs and contributes to the antibiotic resistance crisis.

CAG CHILD means to improve prevention and treatment of the large number of children affected by infections each year. CAG CHILD consists of an ambitious group of highly committed basic researchers and clinicians, including all four paediatrics wards in the Capital Region of Denmark. This makes it possible to collect biological material from children suffering from infections and infection-like inflammation and to apply it in basic research.

CAG CHILD will contribute with new evidence-based strategies and strengthen the implementation of new knowledge in practice, thus reducing the consequences of these diseases.

Infection is the most frequent cause of disease among Danish children and responsible for 10 per cent of all deaths among children below the age of one. Infections include everything from common airway infections not requiring treatment seen in all children to rarer, life-threatening infections such as meningitis.

The CAG will contribute to the implementation of the latest new knowledge on prevention and diagnosing in the healthcare system’s handling of infections in children.

Heads of the CAG: Kjeld Schmiegelow and Søren Buus

CAG Research Osteoarthritis Denmark – Prevention and Treatment Through the Lifespan of Patients (CAG ROAD)
Around 900,000 Danes suffer from osteoarthritis (OA), and the costs of the condition both with regard to treatment and loss of production are substantial. In Denmark persons with OA pay their GP 2.7 million more visits a year than people without OA. Similarly, persons with OA who are active in the labour market have 3.3 million more sick days a year than other workers. In total, OA-related expenses cost the Danish state DKK 11.5 billion in 2010. 

CAG ROAD means to improve the quality of life of persons with OA, which is the second most widespread condition in Denmark next to allergies.

CAG ROAD will increase focus on prevention and develop better treatment for patients. Based on the latest new research-based knowledge CAG ROAD will shed light on the risk factors and disease mechanisms affecting the development of OA.

In light of the demographic development with increased life expectancy and an expected increase in the number of persons with obesity, the number of persons with OA is likely to grow possibly leading to great human and social costs.

In addition, OA has significant socio-economic consequences in the form of treatment costs, handicap, reduced quality of life and lost earnings.

CAG ROAD is a strengthened cross-disciplinary partnership between researchers and clinicians and other professionals within the field of OA. Together they will translate basic and clinical research into improved quality of life for persons with OA.

Heads of the CAG: Anders Troelsen and Stine Jacobsen

About Copenhagen Health Science Partners
Copenhagen Health Science Partners (CHSP) is a partnership between the University of Copenhagen and the Capital Region of Denmark which aims to promote the health and medical sciences and to strengthen the impact of research on clinical practice of benefit to patients. This is done by strengthening the opportunities for collaboration between clinical and basic research. The partnership is inspired by a British model applied at King’s College in London, which has successfully managed to bring basic research at the university and patient-oriented research in the hospitals closer together.

The Capital Region of Denmark provides 1.7 million citizens with a vast number of health services and treat an average of 13,000 patients a day in hospitals and clinics. At the same time, more than 4,000 scientists conduct innovative research at the University of Copenhagen and in the hospitals. University researchers and clinical researchers can use CHSP to learn from each other and to develop new ideas, resulting both in faster scientific results and better treatment of patients. 

The launch of the four new CAGs will take place in the Maersk Tower in Copenhagen on Thursday 28 June 2018.

Read more about Copenhagen Health Science Partners at  

Contact Information

Director, DMSc Per Jørgensen 
Copenhagen Health Science Partners
Phone: +45 23 24 33 32

Dean Ulla Wewer, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen
Via Head of Communication Anéh Christina Hajdu

Phone: +45 21 22 26 92

Director Diana Arsovic Nielsen, Centre for Regional Development, Capital Region of Denmark

Phone: +45 41 43 00 76