15 February 2008

Newsletter No. 2

October 2007 - January 2008
 
Introduction
Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research is in the process of being established at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, to promote basic and applied discovery research on human proteins of medical relevance. This major development has been made possible through a generous donation of 600 MDKK from the Novo Nordisk Foundation, being one of the largest single investments in the life sciences in Denmark (http://www.cpr.ku.dk/).

The centre will comprise a wide range of expertise and skills, from in silico target identification, proteomics, high throughput protein production, chemical biology, disease biology to protein therapeutics; with an explicit goal to become established as one of the world leading research centres focused on human proteins.

Laboratories

The main focus during 2007 was the planning and design of the new laboratories which will be housed in buildings 4 and 6 at the Panum institute (floors 1-3). The ground floor will contain the Core Facility for Biotechnology and Chemical Biology, as well as certain common facilities (autoclave and dish washing). The second floor will be occupied by the Research Departments headed by Prof. Matthias Mann (Proteomics) and Prof. Søren Brunak (Disease Systems Biology). The third floor will be dedicated to three additional Research Departments in Disease Biology and Protein Therapeutics.

The planning and design has been performed in collaboration with architects from ‘NNE Pharmaplan', engineers from ‘EKJ rådgivende ingeniører' as well as members from ‘Copenhagen University Technical Administration'. In addition, an ‘art and design' committee has been formed.

Building works will commence early in 2008 and the laboratories are expected to be ready for use in early 2009.


3D illustration of the laboratory lay-out and interior

Research Departments

A Core Facility for Biotechnology and Chemical Biology will be established, which will focus on the generation of recombinant human proteins for characterization and interaction studies (with protein partners as well as natural and chemical ligands). The Core Facility will implement high throughput approaches to generate a ‘bank' of human protein samples, and has the explicit goal to establish an extensive collaborative network in Denmark and internationally. The Core Facility will be headed by the Managing Director, Dr. Michael Sundstrom.
Proteomics (Prof. Matthias Mann): This Research Department will consist of Prof. Jesper Olsen's group as well as two further independent research groups, in addition to the Director's group. It will make use of recent breakthroughs in the technology of mass spectrometry based proteomics and apply these technologies to disease relevant areas.
Disease Systems Biology (Prof. Søren Brunak): This Research Department will consist of Prof. Lars Juhl Jensen's group in addition to the Director's group. In the Disease Systems Biology area, these groups will focus on kinome-wide understanding of signal transduction networks, impact of human variation on signal transduction, network association between diseases, genes, proteins and chemical compounds, as well as disease-related text mining of electronic patient records, biobank data and biomedical literature.
Three additional Research Departments focused on the roles of proteins in disease biology and therapeutics will be established during 2008 and 2009.

New Staff Members

We are extremely pleased that the following excellent scientists have decided to join Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research.

Dr Lars Juhl Jensen (Group Leader, Disease Systems Biology): Lars will join the centre from a position at the Structural and Computational Biology group at EMBL in Heidelberg. Effective from Dec 1st 2007, Lars has been appointed as Honorary Professor in ‘Systems Biology'.
Dr. Jesper V Olsen (Group Leader, Proteomics): Jesper will join the centre from a position at the Department of Proteomics and Signal Transduction at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany. Effective from Dec 1st 2007, Jesper has been appointed Honorary Professor in ‘Mass Spectrometry for Quantitative Proteomics'.
In addition, Lisbeth Nannestad Jørgensen has joined the staff at the centre as ‘AC-medarbejder' on a part time basis. Lisbeth's duties are focused on communication.

Recruitment

We are currently recruiting for a selected few key positions for the centre administration. Interviews for an administrator will be held in February, with a view to identify and have a suitable candidate in place early in quarter 2. The administrator will assume responsibility for the administrative routines and tasks, with specific focus on finances and human resources/recruitment aspects. In addition, we will also be interviewing candidates for a position as Personal and Administrative Assistant during February.

In collaboration with Novo Nordisk, a selected few ‘TRAP postdoctoral positions' (Novo Nordisk Training and Research Programme) are currently being advertised (closing date on March 11th 2008). These positions are earmarked for collaborative projects with Novo Nordisk. For further details, see http://www.cpr.ku.dk/jobs

We have also initiated the process to identify and recruit three additional research directors, which should be joining the centre during 2008 and 2009.

Scientific Advisory Board

The role for the SAB is, among others, to provide advice on the strategic direction of the centre, the progress and development of the scientific programme as well as to assist in the establishment of external collaborations.

It is with great pleasure that we now can present the members of the SAB:

  • Dr Christopher Austin: Director of the NIH Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC), Bethesda, Maryland (US)
  • Prof Vilhelm Bohr: Senior Investigator and Chief, Laboratory of Molecular Gerontology, National Institute on Aging, NIH, Baltimore, Maryland (US)
  • Dr Peer Bork: Group Leader at EMBL-Biocomputing, Heidelberg (Germany)
  • Dr Tony Hyman: Group Leader and Director at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden (Germany)
  • Prof Poul Nissen: Principal Investigator at the Department of Molecular Biology, Centre for Structural Biology, University of Århus (Denmark)
  • Prof Tony Pawson, Senior Investigator at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Toronto (Canada)
  • Prof Erkki Rouhslahti. Distinguished Professor at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, La Jolla (US)
  • Prof Ray Stevens: Professor and Group Leader at the Departments of Molecular Biology and Chemistry, The Scripps Research Institute, San Diego (US)