Leading-edge protein researcher moves his research to DTU Bioengineering

Monday 23 Jan 17

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Bjarke Bak Christensen
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DTU Bioengineering
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Novo Nordisk Foundation Young Investigator Awards

Novo Nordisk Foundation Young Investigator Awards enable outstanding younger scientists located outside of Denmark to establish their labs in Denmark. These grants support independent early- to mid-career researchers who are ready to conduct more ambitious studies within biomedicine and biotechnology. Novo Nordisk Foundation Young Investigator Awards are granted following an open Call for Applications and a two-stage application process. Each award is up to DKK 20 million, which can be used for research program costs including project operations, salaries and equipment. Current Calls can be found on the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s website.

How do complex protein networks interact to create skin and heal it following injury? What happens to these networks in skin that is inflamed or won’t heal properly? These are the major questions that Ulrich auf dem Keller will address with the DKK 20 million Novo Nordisk Foundation Young Investigator Award that he has been selected to receive.


The 7-year award enables Ulrich auf dem Keller to move his laboratory to the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and establish his research group at the Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine (DTU Bioengineering) where the construction of brand new protein research laboratories is currently being undertaken.

Ulrich auf dem Keller, PhD, is currently Senior Scientist and Group Leader at the Institute for Molecular Health Sciences at ETH Zürich. Following his PhD studies within mammalian skin biology, Ulrich conducted postdoctoral research that included development of new technologies to analyze enzymes known as proteases. He then combined his diverse areas of expertise to build his own research program that studies how proteases function in skin. Proteases are especially important for healing skin wounds, where groups of different proteases function from the first step of forming clots to the final step of promoting the growth of new skin.

Head of DTU Bioengineering Bjarke Bak Christensen says:

"I very much look forward to Ulrich auf dem Keller becoming a part of DTU Bioengineering. He is an excellent and internationally acclaimed researcher who will complement our current research on proteins very well. I have great expectations for the results he and our other researchers will come up with over the next 7 years. Research into proteins is central not only to DTU Bioengineering, but throughout the life science area and it is very satisfying that we as new department at DTU can attract such a talented researcher from abroad."

"With the help of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Young Investigator Award, I will be able to take my research to the next level, supported not only by an extraordinary infrastructure at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), but also by strong ties to basic and clinical collaborators at the numerous excellent biomedical research institutions in the Copenhagen area."
Ulrich auf dem Keller

With the support of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Young Investigator Award, Ulrich auf dem Keller will use comprehensive technologies to investigate networks of proteases in normal, inflamed and wounded skin. This will provide detailed insight into what is not functioning properly in inflamed skin and chronic wounds, and be a basis for developing better diagnostics and treatments.

About his Young Investigator Award, Ulrich auf dem Keller says:

"I am highly excited to get a chance to work together with renowned and leading protein researchers in Denmark who strive to functionally dissect the human proteome and its disturbances in disease on a system-wide scale. With the help of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Young Investigator Award, I will be able to take my research to the next level, supported not only by an extraordinary infrastructure at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), but also by strong ties to basic and clinical collaborators at the numerous excellent biomedical research institutions in the Copenhagen area.”

From the Novo Nordisk Foundation, Head of Research and Innovation Grants, Niels-Henrik von Holstein-Rathlou says of the grant:

“The 7-year Young Investigator Award will allow Ulrich auf dem Keller and his collaborators to investigate proteases in normal and diseased skin at a much higher level of detail than performed before. This has great potential for identifying defects occurring in different skin conditions and for improving treatments. NNF Young Investigator Awards make it possible for highly talented biomedical and biotechnological scientists to come to Denmark, and this enhances the quality and range of research in this country.”


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