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The largest ever donation for Danish basic research - new protein research centre

With a donation of 600 million kroner (app. Euro 13,400,000) from the Novo Nordisk Foundation it is now possible to build a new center for protein research at the University of Copenhagen, making Denmark’s capital a global hotbed for health science research. When the centre opens in 2008, it will house leading Danish and international protein researchers and experts who will use the most advanced laboratory facilities to study human proteins and their significance for health and disease.

“Thanks to this exceptional donation, we can boost research into what proteins look like and how they behave and interact in cells and tissues in healthy and sick people. This insight will provide entirely new opportunities to discover and develop new medicines. By mapping the structure and function of proteins in the healthy human body, we can gain a much better understanding of what goes wrong when you get a disorder and how diseases can be treated more effectively, for instance with tailored proteins as drugs,” explains professor Ulla Wewer, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, who will receive the grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation on Monday, 30 April at 12.30 p.m.

The human body works with the help of an enormous number of proteins that control the body’s daily functions. Proteins build cells, tissues and organs. They also produce hormones, enzymes, transport molecules, antibodies and neurotransmitters. It is estimated that we have more than a million different proteins in our bodies, each with their own function. Even minor changes to a protein can lead to diseases in e.g. the hormone system, the brain, the metabolism, the digestive tract and the vascular system.

“Recent years’ mapping of the human DNA is a fantastic achievement, but its practical value is still quite limited. We can read the individual letters in the genetic code, but we don't understand what the words mean. That’s why we need to learn much more about the proteins which the genes code for. This journey into the world of proteins will be the main task for the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research,” says Gert Almind, CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

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The strengthening of Danish research and education in proteins is not only crucial for researchers at the university, but also for the pharmaceutical industry.

“The Center will be a dynamo for the entire biotech research community in Denmark and it will especially be a hotspot for the protein researchers of the future. This will strengthen Danish efforts in the area of tailored proteins as tomorrow's drugs," says Ulf J. Johansson, dr.techn. and chair of the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research will invite five research teams with leaders from the top of the internal scene. The total staff will be about 100 people. The 4,000-square-metre center will be located in the Panum building at the Faculty of Health Sciences in Copenhagen, where the research teams will have access to unique equipment and state-of-the-art laboratory facilities. The center will open in the fall of 2008.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation is a self-governing institution that provides funding for scientific, humanitarian and social purposes. The majority of this funding is awarded to health sciences.

The Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Copenhagen has 1,800 employees and 4,000 students. The Faculty offers 10 programmes in the health sciences and conducts research spanning from cells to society.

Dean Ulla Wever | alfa
Further information:

Further reports about: Danish Faculty Nordisk Novo donation

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