There is good news for patients who suffer from abdominal pain and intestinal bleeding resulting from persistent inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, also known as chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. The Danish National Research Foundation has granted DKK 68.5 million to the new Center of Excellence, Center for Molecular Prediction of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (PREDICT), where researchers will study the biology behind the occurrence and course of inflammatory bowel disease. Such knowledge is critical for preventing disease, developing new medicines, and tailoring treatment to the individual patient.
Danish goldmine of data
The course of inflammatory bowel disease varies markedly from patient to patient and the etiology of these disorders, which often affect young individuals, is uncertain, says Professor Tine Jess, who will head the new Center of Excellence:
- Presently, we cannot predict the disease path of a newly diagnosed patient. Will they suffer from mild or severe disease? Are they going to develop complications? When did the biological changes leading to disease begin?
Researchers at the National Center of Excellence will investigate these questions by using unique Danish resources of nationwide data and biological material, by collecting additional patient material, and by creating a data lake to link the large amounts of data. Professor Tine Jess explains:
- In Denmark, we have a goldmine of health data collected nationally through decades. By combining blood and tissue samples from national biobanks with these data from Danish health registers, we have a unique opportunity to advance our knowledge on the etiology and prognosis of these diseases. With a strong record for collecting valuable clinical information, Aalborg University Hospital adds detailed clinical information to the data lake.
The combination of these resources creates new opportunities:
- PREDICT is a good example of how fundamental research can provide indispensable knowledge to optimize individual treatment through health data and demonstrates the power of large-scale digitization. I have no doubt that PREDICT will make valuable contributions to the field of ‘personalized medicine’, says Dean Lars Hvilsted Rasmussen, Faculty of Medicine, Aalborg University.
Strong national partnerships
The Center of Excellence is located on Aalborg University’s Copenhagen Campus. In addition to a very strong scientific environment and a long-standing tradition for research on gastrointestinal diseases at Aalborg University and Aalborg University Hospital, excellent researchers from Statens Serum Institut, the Capital Region of Copenhagen, and University of Copenhagen are partners in the new center.
- We are looking very much forward to this new Center of Excellence combining the strong environment at Aalborg University with many of the best researchers in Denmark, both clinicians and basic scientists. Aalborg University has shown an exceptional inclusive and collaborative attitude, and we are very satisfied with their professional institutional support, says Søren-Peter Olesen, Director of the Danish National Research Foundation.
Professor Tine Jess has a large international network of colleagues with whom the center will collaborate, including distinguished researchers at Harvard Medical School, Mount Sinai New York, UCSD, Imperial College, University of Kiel, University of Cambridge, and Sorbonne University.
The Rector of Aalborg University, Per Michael Johansen, emphasizes the strong international collaboration:
- The center is a good example that Aalborg University collaborates with the best researchers around the world in our ambition to do excellent research that will ultimately make a difference. The center illustrates our goal to conduct both fundamental and mission-driven research. I have high expectations that the center will produce significant research results in the coming years.
Tine Jess, Professor, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, AAU, firstname.lastname@example.org, +45 28 57 60 38
Lars Hvilsted Rasmussen, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, AAU, email@example.com, +45 20 10 58 37
Søren-Peter Olesen, Director, Danish National Research Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org
Per Michael Johansen, Rector, AAU, email@example.com