Three researchers from Statens Serum Institut (SSI) each receives five million DKK from the Lundbeck Foundation
The Lundbeck Foundation grants in total 100 million DKK from the programme “Ascending Investigators’ to support 20 researchers.
The Lundbeck Foundation today announces the names of the 20 researchers and projects that will each receive a grant of five million DKK from the programme “Ascending Investigators”.
The purpose of this grant instrument is to “support established and talented biomedical scientists at Danish non-commercial research institutions and to further develop their careers and potentially make a significant contribution to biomedical sciences”, as stated in the press release of the Lundbeck Foundation.
At Statens Serum Institut there is good reason to be happy, as three of the chosen researchers are from SSI.
Safety of childhood immunization programmes
The first is Senior Scientist Anders Hviid, who will examine the safety of childhood immunization programmes. The background is the increasing international tendency among parents not to have their children vaccinated. A choice that according to the WHO poses a serious threat to public health.
Part of this grant will be spent on an SSI study of vaccination granulomas, which is defined as an allergic reaction that may occur around the injection location after immunization with aluminium-containing vaccines.
“We aim to identify cases registered in the Danish Patient Compensation Association and examine which children are at highest risk of developing granulomas after vaccination”, says Anders Hviid. He continues, “Another example is a study of febrile seizures after MMR vaccination. We will be using machine learning to build a model that hopefully will be able to predict the probability of a given child having febrile seizures after vaccination”, concludes Anders Hviid.
Febrile seizures and risk of developing epilepsy
The second grantee at SSI is Senior Scientist Bjarke Feenstra. He will be examining whether genetic factors decide which children develop febrile seizures. And how the seizures affect the children’s risk of later developing epilepsy.
Febrile seizures are benign seizures provoked by high fever. They occur in 2-5% of children before the age of five years.
“With the project ‘Seizures and fever – leveraging large scale genomics data to gain functional insights’ we aim to perform the largest genetic study of febrile seizures among more than 10,000 patients and 100,000 controls”, says Bjarke Feenstra.
The project will also be mapping genetic similarities and variations between febrile seizures and epilepsy. Additionally, we will develop models that can predict the risk of children developing epilepsy after having one or several febrile seizures.
“In the long term, the solid knowledge that this study and others will yield can potentially lead to the development of new medicine as well as to improved clinical prediction and prevention of febrile seizes and epilepsy”, concludes Bjarke Feenstra.
Association between inflammatory bowel disease and psychiatric disease
Finally, Professor, MD, DMSc Tine Jess receives a grant to study associations between chronic inflammatory bowel disease and psychiatric disease.
Inflammatory bowel diseases are lifelong, chronic conditions affecting mostly young people. They can to some extent be treated by medication and surgery, but cannot be cured.
“An association between chronic inflammatory bowel disease and psychiatric disease has been suggested, which may possibly be explained by the gut-brain connection, aka ‘gut-brain-axis’”, says Tine Jess. She continues, “This is, however, so far poorly understood. But with the grant from the Lundbeck Foundation, we are now able to perform detailed studies of any possible increased co-existence between chronic bowel disease and psychiatric disease. We will also be examining whether there is an increased familial clustering of the two diseases, and whether they have common genetic variants”, concludes Tine Jess.
If the new study succeeds in identifying an association, this may lead to improved diagnosis and treatment.
The Lundbeck Foundation received 115 applications
The Lundbeck Foundation received in total 115 applications. Of the 20 projects that ended up being funded, 11 are about different aspects of brain research. Besides the three SSI research projects, three of the 20 research grants go to researchers at Danish hospitals. The last 14 go to researchers at Danish universities.