UCPH researchers receive prestigious EU grant
One researcher will develop a sensitive new technology to study the dynamic structure of proteins, while the work of the other researcher could lead to major discoveries in the field of obesity. The two UCPH researchers from the Faculty of Health Sciences receive the prestigious European Research Council’s Consolidator Grant for their inspiring projects.
The European Research Council has awarded Professor MSO Kasper Dyrberg Rand, Department of Pharmacy, and Associate Professor Camilla Scheele, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, with the Consolidator Grant.
Over the next five years, the two researchers from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences will receive EUR €2 million each for their groundbreaking and unique research ideas.
New technology to look at dynamic proteins
Kasper Dyrberg Rand receives the ERC grant for his project aimed at developing a new microchip technology called HDXchip. If he succeeds, the technology will enable analysis of difficult protein systems of unprecedented complexity, which otherwise escape analysis from the technologies currently available.
Proteins are amazing dynamic nanomachines that play vital roles in the human body, but we still know too little about the dynamic structure of many important proteins. HDXchip could revolutionize the ability of researchers to analyze the dynamics of proteins and reveal, for the first time, how they work and can be targeted by drugs. HDXchip technology could thus, for instance, be used by pharmaceutical companies to design more efficient medicine to treat many common diseases that involve protein malfunction.
‘I am extremely happy and honored to receive the ERC Consolidator Grant. The grant creates a unique and fantastic opportunity for me and my research group to focus on the HDXchip project over the next five years. These kinds of grants are rare, and they enable us to undertake very ambitious research projects that requires a sustained and focused long-term effort to succeed’, he says.
Potential for a breakthrough in obesity research
Associate Professor Camilla Schéele receives her ERC Consolidator Grant for her research project BALDER that will attempt to identify previously unknown peptide signalling molecules that are released by brown fat to help the brain regulate feeding behaviour.
The brain controls our appetite by judging our energy needs based on many signals released by organs in the body. When this feedback system is disrupted, it can lead to obesity, a growing public health threat that affects hundreds of millions of people around the world.
Brown fat is a sub-type of fat that can burn energy and generate heat when the body is exposed to cold, and it plays a role in regulating appetite. Driving the research is a hypothesis that brown fat releases different signals depending on its energetic state. It will be investigated if brown fat, when activated upon exposure to the cold, releases signals that increase appetite, and when deactivated releases signals to suppress appetite.
“With this proposal we will explore a new biology of a crosstalk between brown fat and brain, and by doing this, we have the potential for discovering novel peptides that regulate appetite and counteract obesity. This would be a breakthrough within obesity research and a major discovery that would be beneficial at multiple levels ranging from global health and economy to individuals’ well-being,” says Associate Professor Camilla Schéele.
Professor Kasper Dyrberg Rand
Associate Professor Camilla Schéele