One year research stipend from Rigshospitalet to Kristian Larsen

Congratulations to Kristian Larsen for receiving a one year research stipend from Rigshospitalet's Research Council for his project 'Brain serotonin 4 receptor levels in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder and related treatment effects '.

Grant from Grosserer L. F. Foghts Fond

Congratulations to Miriam López Navarro for receiving from Grosserer L. F. Foghts Fond DKK 112,000 for her project 'Neuroplasticity & Antidepressants'. The final aim of the project is to determine if BDNF is a suitable marker for depression and for neuroplastic changes, and if those are indeed induced by antidepressants.

Travel stipends x 2 from Rigshospitalets Jubilæumsfond

Congratulations to Silvia Bruzzone for receiving DKK 10,000 for her recent participation at the International Society for Serotonin Research Meeting in Cancun, Mexico and to Anjali Sankar who has received DKK 6,232 for the International Society of Bipolar Disorder Annual Meeting in June in Chicago.

Two tandem projects between NRU and Univ. CPH funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation

We are delighted to announce that the Novo Nordisk Foundation has decided to fund in total 18 mio DKK for two highly interesting Tandem Programme projects which will be collaborations between NRU and Univ. Copenhagen.

The first project is titled "Neuroplastic effects of psychedelics" and is led by Prof. Gitte Moos Knudsen (NRU) and with Assoc. Prof. Matthias Herth (Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, Univ. CPH) as co-applicant. This project has been supported by 10 mio DKK.
Abstract: Psychedelic drugs are widely known for their perceptual effects but lately, a surge of interest in the therapeutic potential of psychedelics has emerged and a rapidly increasing number of clinical trials in depression, eating disorders, and cluster headache report on a rapid onset of sustained therapeutic effects after a single psychedelic dose which is believed to induce long-lasting neuroplastic effects. Widespread therapeutic use is, however, hampered by the need to screen patients for psychosis liability, as well as preparation and support during the psychedelic session. The psychedelic drugs LSD and psilocybin stimulate the brain’s serotonin 2A receptor (5-HT2AR) by involving the G protein-coupled receptor and the β-arrestin pathways. Intriguingly, since not all 5-HT2AR agonists induce psychedelic effects, it is questioned if these are required for the therapeutic benefits. Novel evidence suggests that 5-HT2AR pathway-selectivity is key to separate these effects. To compare the behavioral and perceptual outcome of different 5-HT2AR agonists at a similar level of 5-HT2AR occupancy, we propose to synthesize and radiolabel a range of pathway-selective 5-HT2AR agonist Positron Emission Tomography (PET) tracers, and to establish relationships between dose of different 5-HT2AR agonists, intensity of the psychedelic experience, and brain 5-HT2AR occupancy. To investigate the neuroplastic effects of different 5-HT2AR agonists, we will image brain functional connectivity in humans, and analyze brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), synaptic and inflammatory markers in postmortem pig brain. Finally, building on our recent advances in neuroimaging of monoclonal antibodies, we will develop a PET radioligand for in vivo imaging of BDNF. The results of our project will catalyze improved treatment strategies of patients with a range of brain disorders and enable brain imaging of BDNF, but also pave the way for future neuroimaging studies of other peptides, such as GLP-1.

The other project is titled "Synaptogenesis and Neuroinflammation in Epilepsy" and is led by Prof. Jens Mikkelsen (Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Univ. CPH) and with Assoc. Prof. Lars Pinborg (NRU and the Epilepsy Clinic). This project has been supported by 8 mio DKK.
Abstract: Epilepsy a neurological disease of numerous etiologies characterized by abnormal neuronal excitation and recurring seizures. Epilepsy can develop into a severe form and become treatment resistant which is the main challenging situation in the clinic. We know little about what mechanisms that occur when neuronal excitability in networks become high enough to generate unprovoked repetitive seizures (epileptogenesis), and why the disease develops to the worse and become treatment resistant. Coming from experimental and clinical neuroscience, the two teams and applicants have worked together on these issues over the last years and have generated the first results, established procedures in the laboratory, phenotyped complex epilepsy patients in the clinic, and have co-authored publications in 2022. The objective of the present research proposal is to determine changes in neuronal circuits in brains from patients and animal models, and with this information and experience to better diagnose and treat patients with severe epilepsy. We have ex vivo validated a novel radioligand, UCB-J, that bind to a presynaptic vesicular protein (SV2A), and is believed to be a marker of synapses. We have shown changes in synapse numbers in animal models and in brain resections from epilepsy patients. Using this binding technology, we will now examine (a) changes in neuronal connections in patients with treatment resistance, and (b) conduct a prospective study to determine synapses in patients with epilepsy over a 2-year observation period. Further, tissues resected from these patients and animals will be used to analyze structural changes, including neuroinflammation, at the cellular level. Finally, we intend to use animal models to explore the effect of novel pharmacological interventions. This research is aimed to define new standards for diagnosing patients with epilepsy, to a better prediction of disease progression, and to propose new treatments.

Lundbeck Foundation supports Brain Imaging Data Structure (BIDS) derivative workshop

The Lundbeck Foundation has generously granted 109.604 DKK to Gitte Moos Knudsen in support for our Brain Imaging Data Structure (BIDS) derivative workshop which is being held June 21-23 at Radisson Blue Hotel. The workshop organizers are Melanie Ganz-Benjaminsen and Cyril Pernet.

The workshop physically brings together the international working group for derivatives of the Brain Imaging Data Structure (BIDS, BIDS is a community-led standard for organizing, describing and sharing neuroimaging data. In addition to a specification, it includes applications and tools that make it easy for researchers to incorporate BIDS into their current workflows, maximizing reproducibility, data sharing opportunities and supporting good scientific practices.

The workshop will consist of 2½ days (Wednesday afternoon - Friday) of collaborative working on aligning the different BIDS extension proposals for derivatives across all neuroimaging modalities (most prominently MRI, MEG, EEG and PET). Participants will be members of the BIDS steering group (, BIDS maintainers, the lead of the BIDS extension proposals that concern derivatives ( as well as members of the international OpenNeuroPET project (

By harnessing modern brain imaging digital technologies through enhanced data sharing and aggregation, new applications and discoveries in neurological and psychiatric disorders can be made benefiting society in a broad sense.

NRU research presented and awarded at Danish Society of Psychiatry annual meeting

NRU was represented at the annual meeting of the Danish Society of Psychiatry (DSP) by professor Martin B. Jørgensen, assoc. professor Vibe G. Frøkjær, post doc Martin Korsbak Madsen, and PhD-student Kristian R. Jensen, together with Master's students Malene Sørensen, Andrea Juvik and Malthe Andersen.

Martin Korsbak Madsen was awarded 1st Prize at the Pontoppidan Lecture Competition for young researchers for the presentation "Effects of psychedelic and non-psychedelic serotonin 2A receptors modulation on functional brain networks". Also, Malthe Andersen presented his work on “The role of brain wakefulness-regulation, arousal-related symptoms, and SSRI side-effects in patients with MDD“ as a poster and won a prize and praise for enthusiastically and clearly communicating the complex subject.

We congratulate both Martin and Malthe!

Abstract award for Annika Læbo Rasmussen at ESSM

Congratulations to Annika Læbo Rasmussen for having her abstract entitled 'Sexual anhedonia and serotonin 4 receptor brain binding in depressed patients - a NeuroPharm Positron Emission Tomography study' being awarded as the best abstract at the annual European Society for Sexual Medicine (ESSM) conference.

NRU part of large Lundbeck Foundation collaborative project grant

Congratulations to Gitte Moos Knudsen who together with Prof. Anders A. Jensen (PI of the grant) from University of Copenhagen has received a large Lundbeck Foundation Collaborative Project grant for the project "Exploring the potential of a newly discovered activity component in psychedelics".

The total project grant is worth 39 mio DKK, and NRU will get funding for 5 years of post doc salary and running costs for pig PET studies and other project-related costs, totalling ~6 mio DKK.

Read more ...

Kristoffer Brendstrup-Brix winner of Sleep Cup 2023

Congratulations to Kristoffer Brendstrup-Brix for being awarded a first place (and 1000 DKK) in Danish Sleep Research Cup for his presentation and abstract entitled "Diffusion along the perivascular space and brain microstructural measures are associated with circadian time and sleep quality". Danish Sleep Research Cup was hosted by the Danish Society for Sleep Medicine and it took place on Jan 9, 2023 at Panum Institute.