15 June 2017

Søren Brunak partner in the health science research partnership (CHSP) anchored at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences


The Capital Region of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen have recently launched the ambitious health science research partnership Copenhagen Health Science Partners, which will strengthen research and education within heart disease, allergy, leukaemia and physical activity.

Caption: Professor Kristian Helin from SUND (second from the left) and Professor Kirsten Grønbæk (third from the left) constitute CHSP’s first four research units. The nomination was presented by Regional Chief Executive Hjalte Aaberg, the Capital Region of Denmark (to the left) and Rector Henrik Wegener from the University of Copenhagen (to the right). 

Last Monday the health science research partnership between the University of Copenhagen and the Capital Region of Denmark, Copenhagen Health Science Partners or CHSP, was launched.

At the launch in the Maersk Tower CHSP presented its first four research units, which in the future will develop treatment methods for the healthcare system and ensure that the latest health research is implemented and comes to benefit the patients faster.

‘It is vital that we are able to bring our knowledge into play as fast and effectively as possible for the benefit of the citizens. The University of Copenhagen has an ardent wish to contribute to building a society with a high health level, where patients have access to the latest new treatment and the best healthcare solutions’, says Rector Henrik Wegener from the University of Copenhagen.

The main aim of CHSP is to strengthen the cooperation between researchers in basic laboratories and clinical researchers in the hospitals. The partnership is meant to create breakthroughs within near-patient health research and facilitate increased cooperation with the business community, creating more jobs in the region. At the same time, the research will be used to raise the level of education among university graduates employed in the healthcare system. 

‘We have established CHSP because we wish to further strengthen the cooperation between the University of Copenhagen and the large university hospitals in the region. This will lead to better treatment of patients and more jobs in the industry in the region. When the distance between research and clinical work is reduced, it strengthens the hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry and study programmes’, says Chairman of the Regional Council Sophie Hæstorp Andersen from the Capital Region of Denmark.

Strong Research Units for the Benefit of the Patients
The first four research units – the so-called Clinical Academic Groups (CAGs) – focus on types of diseases of great social relevance both in Denmark and internationally. At the launch the researchers presented their projects and offered insight into the work what will constitute the foundation of CHSP in the next few years.

‘We are very pleased with the CAG nomination, as it will focus more attention on the treatment of leukaemia. 60 per cent of all patients suffering from leukaemia die, and treatment forms and survival rates have seen no significant development in recent years. We therefore wish to develop new models for testing for leukaemia, to create new forms of treatment with existing drugs and to find new targets in order to develop new medicine in cooperation with the pharmaceutical industry. And last, but not least, we want to contribute to raising the quality of the training of, for example, haematologists’, says Professor Kristian Helin from SUND and BRIC, who, together with Professor Kirsten Grønbæk from Rigshospitalet and the Department of Clinical Medicine at SUND, was awarded one of the first four CAGs.

Special Effort to Fight Great Health Challenges
CHSP focuses on diseases, which both have great personal consequences for the patients and great economic consequences for society. The first four CAGs were selected by an international panel, and according to Director Per Jørgensen these focuses have been vital to the selection of the first CAGs among the many qualified applicants.

’We have received many thoroughly prepared and interesting applications and are pleased to see such great support of the partnership. A main criterion in the selection process has been that the research conducted by the CAGs can be translated into actual changes in clinical practice for the benefit of patients. With these four CAGs we hope to be able to provide new forms of treatment within their respective areas years before they would otherwise have seen the light of day’, says Per Jørgensen. 

Read short descriptions of the four CAGs:

Early Detection and Individual Treatment of Allergies
The Danish healthcare system is facing an increasing number of Danes suffering from allergic disorders such as eczema, asthma, hay fever as well as food and medicine allergies. Allergic disorders occur in all age groups and can last a lifetime. In addition to reducing the patient’s quality of life, it can also increase the risk of cardiac, psychiatric and autoimmune disorders and lead to reduced life expectancy.

The allergy CAG is headed by Professor Jeanne Duus Johansen from Herlev and Gentofte Hospitals and the Department of Clinical Medicine at SUND and Professor Carsten Geisler from the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at SUND, and over the next few years they will improve early detection of allergies and develop new individualised treatment forms by adopting a holistic approach to the treatment of patients across sectors. The research will be conducted in cooperation with leading experts from general practice and highly profiled basic researchers within immunology.

Tailored Treatment of Heart Diseases Using Health Data
One in every four Danes dies of a heart disease, and nearly half a million Danes suffer from a heart condition. Existing diagnostic methods in cardiology generally lead to imprecise diagnoses, and the treatment is not adjusted to different types of patients. This often has fatal consequences for patients suffering from ischaemic heart disease, myocardial disease, arrhythmia, congenial heart disease and heart patients receiving acute treatment in accident and emergency departments. 

Professor Henning Bundgaard from Rigshospitalet and the Department of Clinical Medicine at SUND and Professor Søren Brunak from the Center for Protein Research at SUND are the researchers behind the cardiology CAG, which will use health data from Danish patients to gain greater insight into molecular and cellular mechanisms in diseases compared to genetic knowledge. Each year the university hospitals in the Capital Region of Denmark attend to more than 50,000 patients, and the research of the CAG is meant to contribute to reducing – or completely eliminating – sickness and mortality as a result of heart diseases through more efficient and precise diagnostics and treatment of heart patients.

Efficient Treatment of Leukaemia
Denmark sees 600 new cases of leukaemia each year, 40-50 of which are children. 60 per cent of all patients suffering from leukaemia die, and the survival rate has not improved over the past years.

The leukaemia CAG, which is headed by the director for BRIC and professor at SUND Kristian Helin, will together with professor Kirsten Grønbæk from Rigshospitalet and the Department of Clinical Medicine at SUND improve existing diagnostics and the treatment of leukaemia patients with existing methods and drugs and develop targets for new medicine in cooperation with the pharmaceutical industry. At the same time, the CAG will strengthen short- and long-term research in the area and integrate it in the teaching in the medical study programmes.

Increased Physical Activity and Sports in Clinical Medicine
Each year more than 40 million people worldwide die due to lack of physical activity and sedentary lifestyle, which in Denmark is considered one of the main threats to public health. This is because lack of activity often results in cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes.

Clinical Professor Michael Kjær from Bispebjerg-Frederiksberg Hospital and the Department of Clinical Medicine at SUND and Flemming Dela from the Department of Biomedical Sciences at SUND will facilitate greater cooperation and knowledge sharing between researchers at the university and clinical researchers in the hospitals in order to intensify the use of physical activity in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. In addition, the work of the unit will be used to do more experimental projects involving physical activity and to expand the syllabus of the study programme in medicine.

About Copenhagen Health Science Partners
Greater Copenhagen has a global position of strength within academic health and medical sciences, excellent treatment of patients and international companies within life sciences and health technology.

The Capital Region of Denmark provides a number of health services to its 1.7 million citizens and attends to an average of 13,000 patients each day in hospitals and clinics. At the same time, more than 4,000 scientists conduct innovative research at the University of Copenhagen and the hospitals. University researchers and clinical researchers can use CHSP to learn from each other and develop new ideas, resulting both in faster scientific results and better treatment of patients.

The University of Copenhagen and the Capital Region of Denmark cooperate on promoting health and medical sciences and on strengthening the effect of research on clinical practice for the benefit of the patients – and wish to take this cooperation to the next level.

Copenhagen Health Science Partners is a new initiative between the University of Copenhagen and the Capital Region of Denmark, targeted with identifying, supporting and promoting new opportunities for cooperation between clinical and basic research. The partnership is inspired by a model used at King’s College in London, which has served to bring the basic research conducted at the university and the patient-based research conducted in the hospitals closer together.  

Copenhagen Health Science Partners has been created with support from the senior management in both organisations and internal financing, enabling the organisation to establish a series of Clinical Academic Groups between clinical and basic science in the spring of 2017.