LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center

Grantee: Henrik Wegener, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Grant: 250,000,000 DKK

Diseases of the skin affect a quarter of the population, more than a billion people, at any given time. Despite impressive progress, especially in the area of immunology in skin diseases, the pace of innovation is not sufficiently high and new treatments are slow to reach patients.

Here, we propose to create a LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center (Skin Immunology Center) that will become a beacon for skin research in Denmark and worldwide.

The Center will identify key questions relating to disease heterogeneity, new pathological mechanisms, and novel therapies of inflammatory skin diseases. With the ultimate aim of helping people with skin diseases in the best possible way, we will launch a focused effort employing cutting edge technologies to advance biological insights and translate basic discoveries to ‘proof of principle’ and then to ‘first in man’ applications (‘bench-to-bedside’). Importantly, observations and questions arising in the clinic will be taken back to the laboratory (‘bedside-tobench’). This team science concept and ecosystem with seamless translation and back-translation between basic biology and the clinic will animate the spirit of the Center from day one.

The Skin Immunology Center will be headquartered at the 12th floor of the Mærsk Tower, the new flagship building at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

We will bring together the immunology of the skin, its diseases and comorbidities, ‘omics’ technologies, experimental models, and strong clinical integration to develop new stratification paradigms and therapies towards precision medicine. People will form the basis of the success of the Center and we will both empower existing scientists and strategically hire new talent. We will build a pipeline of future top researchers through excellent educational activities. In this way, the Center will incubate and form a new generation of multidisciplinary skin immunology researchers, ready to reshape the field for decades to come.

From the start, we will collaborate across specialties, institutions and geographies. The Skin Immunology Center will aim to have a total of 60 members in the core member research groups when fully operational, a critical mass allowing it to contribute significantly to raising the level and quality of research and education in inflammatory skin diseases.

The existing LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery will become an associated and collaborating partner. The Skin Immunology Center will integrate and advance basic and clinical science approaches to skin disease and develop future leaders in the field, while increasing knowledge and awareness of skin and skin diseases among medical professionals, patients and the public.