Illustration: Ulrich auf dem Keller

Leading protein researcher moves his research to DTU

Tuesday 24 Jan 17


Bjarke Bak Christensen
Head of Department
DTU Bioengineering
+45 30 66 42 33

Novo Nordisk Foundation's Young Investigator Awards

Novo Nordisk Foundation's Young Investigator Awards are awarded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, and make it possible for outstanding young researchers to move to Denmark to establish their own laboratories.

The funding supports independent researchers who are at an early or mid-way stage in their careers, and are ready to perform more ambitious research within biomedicine and biotechnology. Read more on the foundation's website.

How do complex protein networks interact when they form skin and heal after an injury? And what happens to these networks in inflamed skin or skin that fails to heal properly? These are some of the key issues which leading protein researcher, Ulrich auf dem Keller, will now investigate after having received a Novo Nordisk Foundation Young Investigator Award from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

By Mette Haagen Marcussen

The grant, of DKK 20 million over a period of seven years, will now enable Ulrich auf dem Keller to relocate his laboratory from Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH Zurich) to DTU and to establish his research group at DTU Bioengineering, where a completely new protein research laboratory is under construction.

Head of Department at DTU Bioengineering, Bjarke Bak Christensen, is extremely pleased:

"I certainly look forward to Ulrich auf dem Keller joining us at DTU Bioengineering and becoming part of our team. He is an excellent and internationally recognized researcher who will add great value to our existing research in the field of proteins, and I have high expectations concerning the results he and other researchers will achieve over the next seven years. Protein research is key, not only for DTU Bioengineering, but throughout the field of life science and it is very satisfying that we, as a new department at DTU, can attract a researcher of this calibre from abroad."

Having been awarded the Novo Nordisk Foundation's Young Investigator Award, Ulrich auf dem Keller will employ extensive technologies to examine the network of proteases in normal, inflamed, and damaged skin. This will provide detailed knowledge about what is not working properly in inflamed skin and chronic wounds, and will form the basis for the development of better diagnostic methods and treatment.

Ulrich auf dem Keller is also looking forward to the collaboration:

"I'm very excited about the prospect of working together with recognized and leading protein researchers in Denmark, who are working on being able to perform a functional dissection of the human proteome and the disruption caused in it by illness on a system-wide scale. Thanks to the Novo Nordisk Foundation's Young Investigator Award, I will be able to go a step further with my research, not only by making use of the assistance available within the extraordinary infrastructure at DTU, but also through benefitting from strong links formed with colleagues within basic research and clinical research in the many excellent biomedical research institutions in the Greater Copenhagen area."


Ulrich auf dem Keller, PhD,Senior Researcher and Group Leader at the Institute for Molecular Health Sciences at the ETH Zurich.

Following his PhD studies within mammalian skin biology, he carried out his postdoc research which focused on the development of new technologies for investigating enzymes known as proteases. Then he built his own research program, which explores how proteases operate in the skin.

Proteases are particularly important in the healing process of skin wounds where groups of various proteases are at work from the first stage where clots are formed, to the final stage—the formation of new skin.  

Niels-Henrik von Holstein-Rathlou, Head of Research and Innovation Grants in the Novo Nordisk Foundation, adds:

"The grant will enable Ulrich auf dem Keller and his colleagues to investigate proteases in normal and diseased skin in much greater detail than ever before. This offers great potential for detecting defects that occur with different skin diseases, and for improving treatments. Novo Nordisk Foundation's Young Investigator Awards makes it possible for very talented biomedical and biotechnological researchers to come to Denmark, increasing the quality and scope of research done here."

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