Professor Martin Lauritzen awarded brain research prize – University of Copenhagen

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05 December 2016

Professor Martin Lauritzen awarded brain research prize

Niels A. Lassen Prize

Martin Lauritzen, consultant at the Department of Neurophysiology, Rigshospitalet, and professor at the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology and the Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Copenhagen, has been awarded the Niels A. Lassen Prize for 2016. Martin Lauritzen is awarded the prize – which is being given for the 18th time – for his research in the regulation of the brain’s blood flow and studies of disease mechanisms in migraine and a range of acute brain diseases.

His research has, among other things, contributed to a completely new understanding of the mechanisms that regulate the supply of sucrose and oxygen to brain cells, which is essential for maintaining normal brain function.  The new research shows that the brain’s processing of information controls the blood supply via communication with very small muscle cells which are strategically placed on the smallest blood vessels in the brain.  This mechanism distributes sucrose and oxygen to active areas of the brain and thus ensures optimum energy supply to brain cells at all times.

Conducted in collaboration with Professor Niels Alexander Lassen, Martin Lauritzen’s early research focused on the blood flow in the brain during migraine attacks. Martin Lauritzen was the first to demonstrate that a migraine is not primarily caused by a disease in the brain’s blood vessels but rather a disorder in the regulation of the ion metabolism in the brain that spreads like a small tsunami across the cerebral cortex. These brain tsunamis, called depolarisation waves in professional circles, vary in strength – like earthquakes on the Richter scale.

In his research, Martin Lauritzen has contributed to demonstrating major tsunamis, depolarisation waves, in a range of acute brain diseases – traumatic brain injury, stroke and brain haemorrhage resulting in significant tissue damage in patients.   Animal experiments have identified drugs which can slow down the brain tsunamis. Work is now being done in an international network on conducting clinical studies with a view to improving the prognosis for patients with acute brain damage.

About Martin Lauritzen
Martin Lauritzen, 64, has been a consultant at Rigshospitalet in Glostrup, Denmark, since 1994. He has been professor of clinical neurophysiology since 1998 and moreover professor of translational neurobiology since 2007 at the University of Copenhagen.  He has studied in Copenhagen and New York. He is heading a new research initiative, Research Initiative on Brain Barriers and Drug Delivery, sponsored by the Lundbeck Foundation, which identifies new strategies for delivering large drugs into the brain.

About the Niels A. Lassen Prize
The prize is granted by the Niels A. Lassen foundation, which was established in 1999 in memory of Professor, Consultant, DMSc Niels A. Lassen (1926-1997), who was one of the 20th century’s most prominent brain and circulation researchers in Denmark.  Niels A. Lassen was affiliated to Bispebjerg Hospital, and the prize is awarded on the hospital’s research day, 7 December, which is also Niels A. Lassen’s birthday. Read more about the prize here.

Award ceremony
The award ceremony will take place on Wednesday 7 December at the training centre (Uddannelsescentret) at Bispebjerg Hospital. The programme starts at 8:00. At 13:30-14:00, Martin Lauritzen will give his lecture ‘Local control of cerebral blood flow and oxygen consumption in health and disease’ in the auditorium.

Professor Martin Lauritzen, email:, tel. +45 51 29 81 69
Press Officer Kristine Snedker, email:, mobile: +45 23 64 88 42