Top researcher takes over as Director of the Protein Center – University of Copenhagen

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01 March 2012

Top researcher takes over as Director of the Protein Center

Protein center

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research (CPR) at the University of Copenhagen will soon have a new director. From 1 April, Jiri Lukas is moving to the center from a senior post at the Danish Cancer Society where he is currently the head of the Centre for Genotoxic Stress Research funded by the Danish National Research Foundation. His appointment will strengthen and develop the protein center, which was set up in 2007 and is now ready to accelerate and expand its research activities.

"We deliberately chose a director with a top research profile because the protein center is now moving from the start-up phase with a focus on infrastructure and the establishment of research environments to phase two with full attention on research activities,” Professor Mathias Mann from the center says.

Therefore, the most important duties that the new director will assume will include directing and developing the center, carrying out independent pioneering research and serving as a mentor to the research group leaders to ensure that the center and its research performs at the highest international level. As director, Jiri Lukas will assume overall responsibility for research, strategy and development at the center, and also for management and operations.

Center studies the building blocks of life

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences studies the building blocks of life itself: the proteins. Its activities include describing the thousands of proteins that our DNA creates for maintenance, repairs and signaling in our bodies, and how defects in these proteins influence health and disease.

Jiri Lukas’s particular field is the behavior of chromosomes when cells divide and when they experience DNA damage; he focuses on the role that these mechanisms play in diseases arising from genetic instability, such as cancer. His work has been instrumental to develop research tools to directly visualise in living human cells the ways proteins interact with damaged chromosomes.

“We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Jiri Lukas as our new director,” Professor Mann continues. “He has received numerous prestigious awards for his research, and has written or contributed to such a huge number of publications and articles in the major journals that he is in the very top percentage of the leading researchers worldwide.” Dean Ulla Wewer adds that his appointment is of huge importance to the progress of the center.

New director impressed at commitment by researchers

Jiri Lukas is 50 years old and holds a PhD in biology from the Czech Academy of Science. He worked with Noble laureate Paul Nurse at Oxford and with Giulio Draetta at Heidelberg. He says about his new job:

“Protein science is an extremely competitive biomedical field and it is never easy to make a significant impact in this area on an international level. The Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences chose the best possible way to make such an impact by integrating two of the most prominent strongholds of Danish science, proteomics and bioinformatics."

"By bringing my own expertise in genome integrity mechanisms I want to further develop the CPR into a truly comprehensive hub for protein research, reaching from protein chemistry and dynamics to elucidating protein malfunctions in human diseases," Jiri Lucas continues. "I am particularly impressed by the scientific dedication of the young group leaders. Together with its immense analytical power, the CPR is in a unique position to develop into a research institute of such a caliber, that no ambitious scientist interested in protein research would want to miss it throughout his or her career. I am keen to work with my new colleagues to achieve this goal.”

Contact:

Prof. Dr. Jiri Lukas
Phone: +45 35 25 73 10

Prof. Dr. Matthias Mann
Phone: +49 (89) 8578 2557

Communications Officer Malene Flagga
Phone: + 45 35 32 69 61