23 October 2019

Professor Simon Bekker-Jensen receives the Lundbeck Foundation's Young Investigator Prize


New knowledge about the way we age has earned Simon Bekker-Jensen, cell researcher and Professor MSO at the University of Copenhagen, the Lundbeck Foundation’s Young Investigator Prize Award 2019.

Simon Bekker-Jensen

Simon Bekker-Jensen from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and the Center for Healthy Aging became a professor at the age of just 36, has published his findings in the world's leading scientific journals and has dedicated his career to finding out how cells respond to stress and in certain situations repair themselves. In the long term, his research might explain why some people age faster than others.

He has been a Lundbeck Foundation Fellow since 2012 and has contributed to several scientific breakthroughs. He has thus identified a number of new proteins that are involved in the way cells respond to DNA damage.

Cells are broken down by daily stress. This is the reason why we age. However, some people age faster than others, and if we learn to understand why, we may find a way to slow down the ageing process and remain healthy further into old age.

Against this background, the now 39-year-old cell scientist and Professor MSO, Simon Bekker-Jensen, is receiving the Lundbeck Foundation's Young Investigator Prize 2019.

‘If we fully zoom in, then I am interested in cells and the basic mechanisms that go into effect when the cells are exposed to stress. This is a recurring theme in most diseases and in the ageing process. If we zoom out a bit, I think it is exciting to work on a topic like ageing because it has fascinated humanity throughout the ages and raises the question: Can we postpone ageing and live longer’? says Simon Bekker-Jensen.

Changed direction along the way

Simon began his career with an interest in how cells cope with DNA damage. The studies led to the identification of a number of novel molecular mechanisms. When he was about to start his own independent research group, he shifted his focus to cellular stress and ageing.

‘Simon belongs to an international elite when it comes to research regarding the understanding of cellular defence mechanisms against stress and ageing. His research has given us a unique insight into some of the basic mechanisms in the cells when they are experiencing stress and ageing, and in the long term it may allow us to limit the ageing processes’, says Jan Egebjerg, Research Director at the Lundbeck Foundation.

In addition to being an internationally renowned researcher, Simon is an experienced teacher, an excellent research communicator and has won numerous awards.

The prize is accompanied by DKK 1 million – out of which DKK 300,000 is a personal honourable prize, and DKK 700,000 shall be used in the recipient's research work.

Watch a video about Simon Bekker-Jensen’s research

About the Lundbeck Foundation’s Young Investigator Prize

The Lundbeck Foundation's Young Investigator Prize is awarded annually to a researcher under the age of 40 who has performed excellent research within health or natural science.

The Lundbeck Foundation wishes to support researchers at all career levels, and the Young Investigator Prize aims to honour the best of the younger generation of researchers who have established their own independent research groups.

At the same time, the Lundbeck Foundation – one of Denmark's largest research funding foundations – focus on the great societal importance of research.


Jan Egebjerg, Director of Science in the Lundbeck Foundation, telephone +45 39 12 80 09, mail: je@lundbeckfonden.com

Pernille Thorborg Jasper, Head of Media in the Lundbeck Foundation, telephone +45 21 18 91 32, mail: ptj@lundbeckfonden.com

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