6 April 2017

The Lundbeck Foundation donates two large grants to star researchers in neuroscience


Two of the leading researchers in the field of neuroscience at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, professor Maiken Nedergaard and professor Steven Goldman, receive DKK 40 million each from the Lundbeck Foundation. The money will fund the further development of their ground-breaking research which will lead to improved treatment of chronic pain and degenerative brain disorders.

The Center for Neuroscience at the University of Copenhagen is home to two of the world's highly respected researchers in the field of neuroscience. Over the years Maiken Nedergaard and Steven Goldman have contributed with crucial new knowledge about the brain, and the two professors will now – each with their large grant from the Lundbeck Foundation – be in a position to continue their large-scale research projects:

"By supporting Maiken Nedergaard and Steven Goldman's research, the Lundbeck Foundation is helping to retain two extremely talented researchers in Denmark. It will be incredibly interesting to follow their research results, which may have a significant impact on our understanding of memory processes and pain and on stem cell treatment of patients with dementia," says Anne-Marie Engel, Director of Research at the Lundbeck Foundation.

Maiken Nedergaard and Steven Goldman receive DKK 40 million each from the Lundbeck Foundation over the next five years.

“I’m thrilled that the Lundbeck Foundation has chosen to favour two of our star researchers. The grants will strengthen the research within basic neuroscience and benefit the treatment of patients with severe chronic pain and patients with dementia in the future. The impressive grants will also strengthen the new Center for Neuroscience (CNS), which is new powerhouse of collaborating research groups from different areas within neuroscience of the Faculty,” says Dean Ulla Wewer, the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

New knowledge about intelligence, memory and pain
Professor Maiken Nedergaard is internationally renowned for her research into the brain's support cells and their significance for the way in which the brain disposes of waste products while we sleep. In connection with the new project, she will investigate the way in which the support cells known as astrocytes contribute to memory processes and the processing of new information.  

The first part of the project is to identify how these support cells participate in the signalling between the nerve cells, and contribute to the brain's cognitive functions – including intelligence and memory. The second part of the project will explore the influence of the support cells on the development and retention of chronic pain. 

"The funding from the Lundbeck Foundation is of decisive importance for being able to expand our understanding of the role played by support cells in a number of essential functions in the brain. It can have a major impact on future treatments of chronic pain," says Professor Maiken Nedergaard from the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Copenhagen.       

New treatments for hereditary brain disorders
Professor Steven Goldman is internationally renowned for having identified and isolated the stem cells in the human brain.  In their most recent studies, Goldman and his team have discovered that stem cells can become diseased and thus contribute to the progression of brain disorders. Since then, Steven Goldman has focused on developing healthy stem cells to replace the diseased brain cells.

The new grant will fund a five-year study which will define the role of the brain's own stem cells in the development of dementia. The research will focus, in particular, on the hereditary disease known as frontotemporal dementia and on the possibility of replacing the brain's support cells with healthy stem cells. The experiments will initially be carried out in mice, but the long-term perspective is to be able to treat humans.

"With the new grant from the Lundbeck Foundation, we can expand our understanding of the role played by brain stem cells in the development of frontotemporal dementia. We hope that our research will also pave the way for new treatments of brain disorders," says Professor Steven Goldman, the newly appointed director of the Center for Neuroscience at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen.