18 August 2020

Danish Oxford Researcher Returns Home to UCPH

Skin Immunology

The Danish researcher Mads Gyrd-Hansen will soon be exchanging Oxford University for the University of Copenhagen, the place where his research career started. The establishment of a new, ambitious research centre in skin and immunology makes him return home. At the same time, he will be receiving a Young Investigator Award from the Novo Nordisk Foundation of DKK 25 million to start a new research group in Copenhagen.

Mads Gyrd-Hansen
(Mads Gyrd-Hansen. Foto: Københavns Universitet)

It is not every day that the University of Copenhagen recruits researchers directly from one of the world's most prestigious universities, Oxford University. This is, however, what is happening now as molecular immunology researcher Mads Gyrd-Hansen takes up his new position as Group Leader at the LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center.

‘I am extremely happy to return to the University of Copenhagen. The new research centre in skin and immunology has a focus that I believe is ambitious and very exciting. I look forward to being a part of it’, says Mads Gyrd-Hansen.

While taking up his new position at the University of Copenhagen, Mads Gyrd-Hansen is also receiving a seven-year research grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the NNF Young Investigator Award, of DKK 25 million. The grant will be used to set up the new research group and to cover the salary and research expenses for a number of employees.

Mads Gyrd-Hansen returns to the University of Copenhagen from a position as Group Leader at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at Oxford University. Here, he has researched the molecular mechanisms that control how the immune system is activated when it identifies foreign bodies such as bacteria. It is precisely this research knowledge of the so-called innate immune system that his new research in Copenhagen will build upon.

More Experience than the First Time Around

Mads Gyrd-Hansen's research career began as a PhD student at the Danish Cancer Society. After that, he was employed as a researcher at the Institute of Cancer Research in London and at the University of Copenhagen, where he worked at the Biotech Research & Innovation Centre and later at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research.

In 2013, he started as a Group Leader at Oxford University, where he has been working up to now. His research has, among other things, provided greater insights into the causes and treatment options for inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease. Here, something goes wrong in the interaction between the immune system and the microbiome (bacteria) in the gut so the immune system overreacts and becomes chronically active, leading to severe damage to the gut.

‘It is exciting for me to return to the place where I studied and worked as a young researcher. I am delighted to bring along the international research experience I have gained in Oxford which makes it possible for me to contribute to the development of a strong and international research environment at the Skin Immunology Research Center’, says Mads Gyrd-Hansen.

More than Just Returning Home

He explains that his research is about how the immune system is activated, regulated and turned off by very specific processes in our body cells. Therefore, his research is also relevant to the skin, where this process can go wrong in connection with immune diseases such as psoriasis and skin cancer.

’Precisely within the immune system, I believe that the University of Copenhagen is on a par with other leading research institutions. Many international researchers are well acquainted with the Department of Immunology and Microbiology, where our research centre is rooted. That is why I see it as a natural step forward in my career, a step that I am convinced will lead to new and exciting research. In this way, it is the research opportunities at UCPH that have made me come home’, concludes Mads Gyrd-Hansen.

New Approaches to Skin Research

Acting Executive Director Charlotte Menné Bonefeld is delighted to have attracted a capacity like Mads Gyrd-Hansen as the new Group Leader at the LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center, and she describes him as a new card within the research of inflammatory skin diseases.

‘Mads Gyrd-Hansen will contribute new techniques and a unique basic protein chemical approach that we havssse so far not used in the skin. His approach to signalling mechanisms in the skin's cells may give us a new understanding of how inflammatory conditions are regulated. Understanding these regulatory mechanisms is central to the development of new drugs to treat inflammatory skin diseases’, says Charlotte Menné Bonefeld.

Mads Gyrd-Hansen will take up his position at the LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center in the fall.


Group Leader Mads Gyrd-Hansen

Press Officer Mathias Traczyk
Telephone +45 53 56 58 35