10 December 2019

Great International Recognition to Simon Bekker-Jensen

ERC Grant

Professor Simon Bekker-Jensen from SUND has been given a huge career boost in the form of one of the very prestigious ERC Consolidator Grants. The grant will be used to research defence mechanisms in the skin during stress and ageing. In the long term, this may have an impact on the treatment of skin cancer and our understanding of the cell's ageing processes.

Foto af professor Simon Bekker-Jensen

The European Research Council (ERC) has just published the lucky researchers who over the next five years will be able to consolidate their research group around a ground-breaking and unique research idea. The researchers will receive the coveted ERC Consolidator Grant. At SUND, the talented researcher Professor Simon Bekker-Jensen can look forward to cementing his research group backed by the grant, amounting to EUR 2 million.

Grant from Lundbeck Was the Kick-Off

Professor Simon Bekker-Jensen and his research group from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and the Center for Healthy Aging are researching cellular defence mechanisms in connection with stress and ageing. Backed by a five-year grant from the Lundbeck Foundation in 2015, Simon Bekker-Jensen has built up a group of 10 people: an associate professor, a postdoc, four PhD students and three students.

‘Being awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant really means a lot to my career. It is a very prestigious grant where you are in fierce competition with others in the race to offer a both ground-breaking and unique idea. I see it as a huge pat on the back that the ERC believes that my ideas have the necessary potential. For the next five years, I can focus on refuting the paradigm that UV radiation on the skin solely results in DNA damage. Other important cell structures also appear to be affected by UV radiation. It is my hope that we will gain a new understanding of skin cancer and how the disease occurs’, says Simon Bekker-Jensen.

New Response System of Importance to Skin Cancer and Ageing

So far, Simon's research group has focused on cells and the basic mechanisms that go into effect when cells are exposed to stress. It is a consistent theme in most diseases and also the ageing process.

Everyone knows what happens when people are exposed to a lot of sunshine. You get a sunburn that can potentially lead to skin cancer. UV radiation damages the cells' DNA, and the dominant narrative in the research field is that this is the sole reason for the development of skin cancer. But our initial experiments have shown that another stress response is also of great importance, namely damage to the cell's protein factories, the ribosomes.

In the project that is supported by the ERC, ‘Physiological roles of the Ribotoxic Stress Response’, the group's focus will be on investigating what happens in model organisms such as mice and C elegans worms when important parts of the ribosome response system are destroyed. Preliminary results indicate that this is important both for the development of skin cancer in mice and the lifetime of worms.

Read the press release from ERC that includes the names of the 301 researchers that have recieved the ERC Consolidator Grants.

Contact

Professor Simon Bekker-Jensen, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Center for Healthy Aging, mobile: +45 20 20 49 93, mail: sbj@sund.ku.dk

Communication Coordinator Gitte Frandsen, Center for Healthy Aging, mobile: +45 51 29 80 05, mail: gitte.frandsen@sund.ku.dk