30 November 2017

Four SUND researchers receive a Sapere Aude Grant from the Independent Research Fund Denmark


With DKK 165 million distributed among 29 talented researchers, the Independent Research Fund Denmark’s Sapere Aude Grants support excellence in Danish research. This year, four talented researchers from SUND are among the recipients of these prestigious grants.

Photos: Tariq Mikkel Khan/The Independent Research Fund Denmark

Originality, professional scope and surprising methodical grips are some of the qualities celebrated by the Independent Research Fund Denmark’s Sapere Aude Grants. The grants provide the most talented researchers with the best possible conditions for conducting research at the highest international level. It contributes to the realization of the most groundbreaking ideas in teams of researchers with talent and freedom to go far to achieve new results.

Research on drugs, sleep, membrane proteins and intestine This year, four researchers from SUND have been awarded the prestigious grant for their research.

Associate Professor Korbinian Löbmann from the Department of Pharmacy receives the grant for a project on increasing the solubility of drugs using microwave radiation. It is an ever-increasing problem in the development of drug delivery systems, that the majority of new drugs are poorly soluble in water. The project aims to improve drug performance in medicines by activation of drugs in tablets, hence, making them more soluble.

 “The Sapere Aude program will enable me to follow my scientific vision of optimizing drug therapy with a potential impact on human lives”, says Korbinian Löbmann.

Associate Professor Stephan Pless from the Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology also receives a Sapere Aude grant. His project is centered around understanding the molecular details of how a protein residing in the cell membrane allows sodium to enter the cell. Mammals are unable to live without this protein, and its dysfunction can lead to devastating diseases. Yet we only have a very rudimentary understanding of how it actually functions or how it is regulated.

Stephan Pless is excited about receiving the grant: “I had been dreaming of starting this particular project since 2011, so I am very grateful for being given the opportunity to finally get this project off the ground. Given that dysfunction of this protein can lead to severe and deadly diseases, I hope that our work will form the basis for drug discovery projects aimed at this protein in the future”, he says.

Professor MSO Naja Hulvej Rod from the Department of Public Health receives the grant for a project on sleep. Mobile phones are an integral part of our everyday lives, and recent numbers show that a large proportion of young people get their sleep interrupted by mobile activity at night. The project investigates whether interrupted sleep due to mobile use affects our health, for example, increase infection vulnerabilities, increased risk of obesity and diabetes, and poorer mental health and reduced fertility.

"Sleep is one of our most basic needs, and I think there is a need to set sleep on the prevention agenda. I hope that the project will increase our understanding of what it means to our health that we are increasingly active in the digital media around the clock. The ambition is to create a sound knowledge base for developing effective preventive efforts in the field, "says Naja Hulvej Rod.  

Associate Professor Andrew Richard Williams from the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences will investigate how selected dietary components modulate immune function in the gut, using parasitic worms as an infection model in mice and pigs. This work will provide fundamental insights into the interactions between nutrition and immunity, with relevance for chronic inflammation and pathogenic infections in the intestine. In the future, it might improve animal health during a parasitic infection.

“The Sapere Aude funding will allow my group to make significant advances in our research at the interface of parasitology, immunology and molecular nutrition. The project will allow us to initiate and strengthen collaborations with leading international groups and make an important contribution to an expanding research area”, Andrew Richard Williams tells.


Korbinian Löbmann P: +45 35 32 05 41

Stephan Pless P: +45  23 64 90 66 

MSO Naja Hulvej Rod P: +45  35 32 67 35

Andrew Richard Williams P: +45 35 33 27 97