News

The LEO Foundation is happy to announce that it will present its Gold and Silver Awards during the 7th conference on International Investigative Dermatology – the IID 2018 – in Orlando, Florida on 16th May 2018.

Copenhagen, Denmark (2 February, 2018) – The LEO Foundation will give out its 2018 Gold and Silver awards to two promising young researchers at the IID 2018. The conference will bring together dermatology researchers from across the globe and they will exchange the latest in cutting edge science.

“We are looking forward to present two young researchers with our awards. Both will have improved our understanding of skin diseases through their contributions to the scientific community, and both will have achieved outstanding results with the potential to pave the way for new and improved treatments,” said Ida Brams, Chief Grant Officer at the LEO Foundation.

The Gold award is DKK 1 million (EUR 130,000) and the Silver award DKK 500,000 (EUR 65,000). The awards were created in 2008 and have since then been presented annually to honour and motivate young scientists whose work represent extraordinary contributions to medical research in dermatology.

The three societies behind the IID 2018 – the US Society for Investigative Dermatology (SID, www.sidnet.org), the European Society for Dermatological Research (ESDR, www.esdr.org), and the Japanese Society for Investigative Dermatology (JSID, www.jsid.org) – identify candidates and the LEO Foundation Board of Trustees selects the award winners. The names of the award recipients will be announced at the event in Orlando.

The International Investigative Dermatology (IID) conference is a unique event, occurring once every five years. It brings together basic, translational, and clinical researchers from all over the world – scientists who are focused on advancing the understanding of skin biology and diseases.

Date & time: 4PM to 5PM (16:00-17:00) on Wednesday 16th May 2018

Venue: Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, Orlando, Florida (IID 2018, 16-19 May 2018)

Website: www.IID2018.org

The LEO Foundation has awarded two exceptionally promising and talented scientists the foundation’s 2017 Gold and Silver Awards. The Gold Award is DKK 1 million and the Silver Award DKK 500,000.

Copenhagen, Denmark (4 October, 2017) – The LEO Foundation has given its 2017 Gold and Silver Awards to two promising young scientists, Maria Kasper and Christoph Schlapbach. Both scientists have made exceptional advances within dermatology research.

The LEO Foundation’s 2017 Gold and Silver Awards went to Dr. Maria Kasper, Karolinska Institute, Sweden, and Dr. Christoph Schlapbach, University of Bern, Switzerland.

 

“We are proud to present the two outstanding young scientists with our awards. Both have truly advanced our understanding of skin diseases through their valuable contributions to the scientific community, and their outstanding research has the potential to pave the way for new and improved treatments,” said Thorsten Thormann, Chairman of the LEO Foundation Award Committee.

The Gold Award went to Dr. Maria Kasper, presently leading a research group at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

“Receiving the phone call with the news of the LEO Foundation 2017 Gold award is one of these few unforgettable moments. My friends often call me “skin nerd” since I love everything about skin.  Thus, it’s such a happiness and great honour for me to receive this prestigious prize. I would like to express my deepest thank you to the LEO Foundation, the ESDR, and my lab members who make everyday’s work fun and colorful,” said Maria Kasper.

The Silver Award went to Dr. Christoph Schlapbach, dermatology resident at the University of Bern in Switzerland.

“It is a great honour for me to receive the LEO Foundation 2017 Silver Award on behalf of my emerging research team. Together with the generous financial support, this prize motivates and supports our journey towards a better understanding of how the human skin functions,” said Christoph Schlapbach

 

About the awards

The LEO Foundation Gold and Silver Awards were created in 2008 and are awarded to young scientists whose work represent extraordinary contributions to medical research.

The European Society for Dermatological Research (ESDR, www.esdr.org) has identified candidates and the LEO Foundation has selected the award winners.

The LEO Foundation has announced its prestigious Gold and Silver awards to two exceptionally promising and talented scientists. The DKK 1 million LEO Foundation Gold Award goes to Dr. Maria Kasper and the DKK 500,000 LEO Foundation Silver Award to Dr. Christoph Schlapbach.

Copenhagen, Denmark (17 August, 2017) – “We are proud to present the two outstanding young scientists with our awards. Both have truly advanced our understanding of skin diseases through their valuable contributions to the scientific community, and their outstanding research has the potential to pave the way for new and improved treatments,” said Thorsten Thormann, Chairman of the LEO Foundation Award Committee.

The award ceremony will take place in Salzburg on 28 September 2017 at the European Society for Dermatological Research 47th annual meeting.

Gold Award winner Maria Kasper, MSc, PhD

Maria Kasper graduated from at the University of Salzburg where she also did her PhD on the topic of Hedgehog signaling and cross-talk with EGFR signaling at the Department of Molecular Biology. ¨

She joined Rune Toftgårds laboratory at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm in 2007. Here she worked on defining the nature of adult stem cells and their markers. She also discovered that skin tumorigenesis is promoted by the wound environment.

Her work was published in top-ranking journals. In 2013 Maria Kasper established her own independent research group at the Karolinska Institute. Since then her group has made remarkable discoveries that has shed new light on stem cells in the skin.

Among the more spectacular discoveries Kaspers group showed how heterogenecity among keratinocytes can be explained through differentiation programs. Her publication of the first single-cell transcriptomic study in the skin also raised significant international attention.

Maria Kasper is selected as this year’s recipient of the Gold Award based on her exceptional research as well as her vision on how to combine her insights into skin biology and cutting-edge technologies in advancing the area of skin regeneration and wound healing.

Silver Award winner Christoph Schlapbach, MD, PhD

During his MD-PhD program at the University of Bern Christoph Schlapbach did research on cutaneous T cell lymphoma and tumor vaccines. After graduating he did his Post-doctorial fellow-ship at the Department of Dermatology of the Harvard Medical School in the laboratory of Drs Clark and Kupper.

During his time here he was involved in the discovery of human Th9 cells as a predominantly skin-homing and skin-resident subset of T helper cells with unique cytokine expression kinetics. His work led to the description of the superior anti-tumor capacity of the TH9 cells in models of malignant melanoma.

After his return to Bern in 2012, he continued his residency in dermatology and received his board certification in 2016. In parallel, he established an independent research group to continue his research on “TH9” cells.

Christoph Schlapbach is selected as this year’s recipient of the Silver Award based on his important research in the field of skin immunity and inflammation.

His future work on IL-9 expressing T helper cells has the potential to identify new therapeutic targets as well further elucidating the mechanisms behind allergic skin inflammation and thus contribute to the fields of T cell biology and translational dermatology.

Understanding how drugs interact with skin has long been a challenge within pharmaceutical research.

Copenhagen, Denmark (15 June, 2017) – Today’s inauguration of the LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery, a new centre at the Department of Pharmacy at University of Copenhagen, marks the start of a quest to better this understanding.

“We believe that we can elevate research significantly in this very exciting area,” said the centre’s newly appointed head, professor Martin Malmsten, formerly of Uppsala University.

Inauguration workshop for the LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery. From left: Dr Ulla Wewer, Dean of the Department of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, professor, Dr Martin Malmsten, Head of LFCCDD, and Dr Lars Olsen, Chairman of the LEO Foundation.

From left: Dr Ulla Wewer, Dean of the Department of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, professor, Dr Martin Malmsten, Head of LFCCDD, and Dr Lars Olsen, Chairman of the LEO Foundation.

The centre is backed by a 10-year grant of DKK 40 million from the LEO Foundation and is physically based at the Department of Pharmacy, University of Copenhagen. The centre has been staffed with some of dermatology’s large talents and has set out to collaborate with researchers all over the world.

“We are very ambitious and we look forward to increase the impact of the talented scientists and ensure constant exchange of ideas and knowledge,” said Ulla Wewer, Dean of the Department of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen.

The LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery will conduct research on what happens in and on the skin when drugs are applied. There will be a particular focus on the physical-chemical aspects of the interaction between skin and drugs, which is important to the development of new drugs. This will hopefully help optimize the drug properties and allow for maximum utilization while simultaneously minimizing side effects.

“I believe that the centre has the potential to be a creative space dedicated to innovative research methods and new analytical technologies. And that it will be able to generate knowledge that can and will benefit patients as well as society in general,“ said Lars Olsen, Chairman of the LEO Foundation.

The LEO Foundation, a commercial foundation and the sole owner of the global healthcare company LEO Pharma, announces changes to its Board of Trustees.

Ballerup, Denmark (30 March, 2017) – Eivind Kolding and Peter Schwarz have joined the Board of Trustees of the LEO Foundation, replacing Per Håkon Schmidt and Gorm Thamsborg who served 16 and 17 years on the Board respectively.

“I am very happy to welcome Eivind Kolding and Peter Schwarz to the LEO Foundation’s Board of Trustees. The new members bring a wealth of expertise and experience and will contribute with fresh perspectives on the LEO Foundation. I also want to thank Per Håkon Schmidt and Gorm Thamsborg for their dedication to the LEO Foundation over many years,” said Lars Olsen, Chairman of the LEO Foundation.

Eivind Kolding is a lawyer by training and has extensive experience within board management and international commerce. Kolding currently holds several directorships, including Chairman of Danish Ship Finance. Former positions include Board Member of Novo Nordisk, CEO of Novo A/S, CEO of Maersk Line, CEO of Danske Bank Group and Chairman of Danske Bank.

Peter Schwarz is Professor in Endocrinology and Director of the Research Center of Osteoporosis and Ageing at Rigshospitalet and Copenhagen University. Schwarz is a medical specialist in biochemistry, internal medicine and medical endocrinology with an extensive career in medical and clinical science. Schwarz sits on various scientific boards and is an experienced reviewer for several scientific journals.

The LEO Foundation recently announced a new structure and governance model in order to play a more active role as the sole owner of LEO Pharma, strengthening both the foundation and the company. From 1 April 2017, Jesper Mailind assumes the position as CEO for the LEO Foundation, which will establish its own independent organisation responsible for being an active owner of LEO Pharma, managing financial surplus from the company and providing grants. The move is the latest step in the journey initiated by the LEO Foundation in 2009 with the aim of securing LEO Pharma’s independence and long term development.

The LEO Foundation introduces a new structure and governance model in order to play a more active role as the sole owner of LEO Pharma, strengthening both the foundation and the company. Jesper Mailind will assume the position as CEO for the LEO Foundation.

Ballerup, Denmark (28 February, 2017) – Effective 1 April 2017, the LEO Foundation will establish its own independent organisation, which will be responsible for managing LEO Pharma’s assets and providing grants. The move is the latest step in the journey initiated by the LEO Foundation in 2009 with the aim of securing LEO Pharma’s long term development.

“The LEO Foundation’s main purpose is to ensure that LEO Pharma successfully continues to grow and develop as an independent, global healthcare company. The best way of doing this is through active ownership. This lets LEO Pharma focus on developing and marketing treatment solutions while other activities, such as asset management, are taken care of by an independent organisation,” said LEO Foundation Chairman Lars Olsen.

The change allows LEO Pharma to focus even more on its core business as a healthcare company, while allowing the LEO Foundation to focus on asset management as well as on grants to research and activities that increase disease awareness, disease understanding and access to treatment within dermatology.

“This is part of an ongoing modernisation of the LEO Foundation and will strengthen both the foundation and the company. It is a natural next step in the journey that began some seven years ago, which has been pivotal in making LEO Pharma the company it is today – a global leader in the treatment of skin diseases,” said Jukka Pertola, Chairman of LEO Pharma.

Jesper Mailind new CEO for LEO Foundation
To support LEO Foundation’s development, Jesper Mailind has been appointed as CEO with effect from 1 April 2017. Recently, Jesper Mailind consolidated and developed the foundation-owned engineering company Alectia. With previous positions as CEO for GN Resound and Senior Vice President at Nycomed Pharma (now Takeda), Jesper has ex-tensive experience relating to both healthcare and foundation ownership. And he sees significant opportunities to strengthen LEO Pharma’s development through active foundation ownership.

“LEO Pharma has undergone extensive change in recent years and now has a unique opportunity to realise its vision of becoming the global dermatology care partner for patients, healthcare professionals and partners. As an active owner, the foundation can contribute towards creating the best possible conditions for the company – both in terms of financial independence and advancing research, knowledge and other activities within skin diseases. It’s a hugely exciting task, which I’m really looking forward to,” said Jesper Mailind.

LEO Pharma will continue to have funds to invest in research and other activities that support the company’s operations and development. In the future, some of LEO Pharma’s profit will be transferred to the foundation. The LEO Foundation’s investment profile will not change. Due to the foundation’s sole ownership of LEO Pharma, all profit will continue to be reinvested in developing new treatments and improving conditions that can help people with skin diseases.

The LEO Foundation has offered awards to two young, promising Japanese scientists for their pioneering dermatological research. The awards have been bestowed in collaboration with the Japanese Society for Investigative Dermatology (JSID).

Ballerup, Denmark (16 December, 2016) – The LEO Foundation has recently presented the “LEO Foundation Awards 2016 in association with JSID” – JSID being the Japanese Society for Investigative Dermatology – to two young scientists in Japan, who have strong track records and show promising futures.

The LEO Foundation Gold Award of DKK 0.5 million went to Dr. Ayumi Yoshizaki (to the right, middle), and the DKK 0.25 million Silver Award went to Dr. Yu Sawada. The award ceremony took place in Sendai, Japan, at the 41st annual conference of JSID on 11 December 2016.

“The LEO Foundation is proud to present the awards to these two young, very promising scientists. We look forward to follow their future endeavours and we are sure that they will continue their excellent contributions in the field of dermatology,” said Lars Olsen, Chairman of the LEO Foundation.

Gold award winner: Dr. Ayumi Yoshizaki is a lecturer and an independent researcher in the field of dermatological autoimmune diseases based at Department of Dermatology, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo. Dr. Yoshizaki has his own research group, an impressive list of publications and is well acknowledged by the Japanese dermatological and scientific communities. His future research is focused on autoimmune diseases related to the skin, particularly systemic sclerosis (SSc). His lab is using highly innovative techniques to explore the role of auto-reactive B cells in SSc at the single cell level. He is a rising star that very well could establish himself as a leader in his field globally.

Silver award winner: Dr. Yu Sawada currently holds the position as a research fellow at the Department of Dermatology in Kyoto University and assistant professor at the University of Environmental and Medical Health in Kitakyushu. Dr. Sawada’s research focuses on establishing and implementing a new therapeutic paradigm for the improvement of inflammatory skin diseases through medical treatment in combination with specific lifestyle alterations such as diet, sleep and physical exercise.

Understanding how drugs interact with skin has long been a challenge within pharmaceutical research. Now, a new center at the Department of Pharmacy, UCPH, is set to become an international lighthouse in this research area, supported by a DKK 40 million grant from the LEO Foundation.

Ballerup, Denmark (13 October, 2016) – Backed by DKK 40 million from the LEO Foundation, the LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery will form the basis of new research on skin and drugs. Behind the project is the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Copenhagen, where the center will also be located. The Director of the new center, Martin Malmsten, was formerly Head of Research at Uppsala University.

“I hope to contribute with my experience and thus help motivate and inspire colleagues and employees, enabling us to provide the best possible results. At the same time, I look forward to becoming part of the University of Copenhagen, where they have been very willing to prioritize strategic focus areas. The new center offers great and long-term opportunities for making an impact on international research and I’m happy to be part of this initiative, which will lift research in a very exciting area,” said Martin Malmsten.

The LEO Foundation Center for Cutaneous Drug Delivery will conduct research on what happens in and on the skin when we apply drugs. There will be a particular focus on the physical-chemical aspects of the interaction between skin and drugs, which is important to the development of new drugs. This will hopefully help optimize the drug properties and allow for maximum utilization while simultaneously minimizing side effects.

“Our new center meets a huge demand for understanding how drugs interact with skin. With a strong team of highly qualified researchers, we will set new standards for research in the field of dermatology and I’m both proud and grateful that this grant from the LEO Foundation has helped us attract new and strong forces to UCPH. This new strategic effort will benefit patients as well as society in general,” said Dean Ulla Wewer from the Department of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen.

Generating new knowledge while also providing a space for innovative research methods and new analytical technologies is what the center aims for. The LEO Foundation has backed the center with a grant of DKK 40 million over the next ten years, which in itself is quite remarkable.

“We’re very happy to support this important initiative and the grant of DKK 40 million over the next ten years is the single largest grant the foundation has ever awarded. What’s more important, however, is the fact that we are quite convinced that the center with its strong team of researchers has the potential to become a global powerhouse in terms of research on the dynamic interaction between drugs and skin,” said Lars Olsen, Chairman of the LEO Foundation.

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Further information:
Kristine Snedker, Press Coordinator at SUND, University of Copenhagen, email: kristine.snedker@sund.ku.dk, mobile phone: +45 2364 8842

Psoriasis patients have an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. A new study aims to identify the molecular mechanisms of the association between psoriasis and cardiovascular diseases and develop new therapies aimed at both diseases.

Ballerup, Denmark (22 September, 2016) – Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), such as myocardial infarction and stroke, are leading causes of death globally. Independent of traditional risk factors, however, psoriasis patients run an increased risk of CVD, adding considerably to morbidity and mortality for this large patient group.

“Inflammation has been proposed as a part of the explanation for the association between psoriasis and CVD. However, when we look at the underlying pathophysiology and molecular drivers of this connection, they are unclear. It is also unresolved whether treatment responses for psoriasis alter the course of CVD. To us, this suggests that the connection with inflammation might be more complex than currently appreciated,” said Joel Dudley, Director of Biomedical informatics at Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai in New York.

Together with Peter Riis Hansen, Department of Cardiology, Gentofte Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, Dudley will lead a team focused on developing a much needed understanding between the molecular mechanisms of psoriasis and the increase in CVD comorbidity. Understanding these complex interactions between skin and cardiovascular health will lead to insights for future preventive treatments and improved prognosis.

The team will employ an array of modern high throughput technologies to bring together information about genetics, immunology, local gene expression, microbiomes, and more standard clinical measures to develop an unprecedented map of factors impacting cardiovascular health in psoriatic patients.

“We will apply sophisticated bioinformatics and network biology techniques to integrate the data and develop a disease network model that will enable both discovery and testing of novel hypotheses concerning biomarkers and pathogenic mechanisms. We believe that this disease network model will serve as a powerful and unprecedented resource for the dermatology, cardiology, and immunology research communities,” said Peter Riis Hansen.

More specifically, the model may facilitate the re-interpretation of data from previous studies and clinical trials, be queried by scientific and clinical investigators to evaluate novel clinical and molecular hypotheses, and inform new understanding of fundamental molecular mechanisms underlying the interplay between skin biology, immune function, and the immune-metabolic-cardiovascular axis.

The resulting disease network model may also uncover molecular mechanisms contributing to increased CVD risk in other immune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, atopic dermatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

“We believe that the data generation activities alone would provide tremendous value to the research community, and that developments in data analysis and bioinformatics has the potential to increase exponentially our understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying CVD risk in inflammatory skin disease,” said Peter Riis Hansen.

The LEO Foundation has supported the study with a grant of 13.1 MDKK.

“The project has potential to create an interesting resource for the research communities in dermatology, cardiology, and immunology, and we are delighted to support it,” said Lars Olsen, Chairman of the LEO Foundation.

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Further information:

Joel Dudley, PhD, Director of Biomedical informatics, Department of Genetics and Genomics Sciences, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA. E-mail: joel.dudley@mssm.edu

Peter Riis Hansen, MD, DMSc, PhD, Consultant (invasive cardiology), Associate Professor, Department of Cardiology, Gentofte Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. E-mail: peter.riis.hansen@regionh.dk

A Danish-American collaboration between Gentofte Hospital in Copenhagen and Mount Sinai in New York seeks unprecedented new opportunities to improve understanding of atopic dermatitis and hand dermatitis.

Ballerup, Denmark (22 September, 2016) – Atopic dermatitis (AD) and hand dermatitis are heterogeneous disease entities and there has yet to be developed a good understanding of their many different clinical aspects. Thus it remains extremely challenging to provide patients with better treatment outcomes and prognosis.

A newly formed team of scientists at Gentofte Hospital in Copenhagen and Mount Sinai in New York has set out to change this.

“Next generation sequencing and advanced bioinformatics technologies give us powerful new opportunities to explore and understand the molecular pathophysiology of atopic dermatitis and hand dermatitis,” said Dr. Joel Dudley, Director of Biomedical informatics at Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai in New York.

“It is a study that has not previously been performed, and we expect to make a breakthrough in the understanding, classification and treatment of these skin diseases. We hope to improve our knowledge and understanding of the molecular basis of atopic dermatitis and hand dermatitis and their relation to clinical features. Consequently, we also hope to pave the way for improved opportunities for managing and preventing disease,” said Dr. Jeanne Duus Johansen from the Department of Dermato-Allergology at Gentofte Hospital.

She and Joel Dudley will lead a trans-Atlantic team of researchers working with high-throughput, genome-wide profiling of multiple of the ‘–omics’ modalities, including genome, transcriptome, epigenome and microbiome.

The goal is to develop a deeper understanding of how the molecular manifestation of the heterogeneous diseases correlates with clinical variables such as onset of disease and treatment outcomes. The technologies employed by the team can provide comprehensive molecular profiles that can enhance the understanding of the system-wide mechanics and properties of complex biological systems.

Dudley’s team will integrate the ‘-omics’ data sets to clarify the complex biological mechanisms underlying disease. They will do so by connecting molecular profiles with clinical data to identify molecular surrogates of drivers of important clinical features of disease.

The study will build on previous efforts to assemble and characterise a Danish cohort of individuals affected by AD in adulthood and/or hand dermatitis. The proposed study will add important new dimensions of molecular information that will enable new insights into molecular mechanisms and features of disease. Furthermore, the team sees that an incorporation of molecular measures, namely microbiome and epigenome, may offer insight into environmental correlates or determinants of disease.

Finally, the team foresees that the data and results generated may serve as an important new asset to the AD and dermatology research communities.

“We believe that the data and results generated by our study will enable new research directions and insights into AD and dermatological disease. Furthermore, we believe that such future insights would be enabled by the unique availability of the proposed comprehensive multi-omics data set integrated with comprehensive clinical data and assessment of a large patient cohort,” said Dr. Jeanne Duus Johansen.

The LEO Foundation has supported the study with a grant of 11.1 MDKK.

“We are delighted to support this important initiative and look forward to see what new insights into molecular mechanisms and features of atopic dermatitis it will bring,” said Lars Olsen, Chairman of the LEO Foundation.

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Further information:

Joel Dudley, PhD, Director of Biomedical informatics, Department of Genetics and Genomics Sciences, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA. E-mail: joel.dudley@mssm.edu

Jeanne Duus Johansen, MD, DMSc, Director National Allergy Research Centre, Department of Dermato-Allergology, Gentofte Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. E-mail: jeanne.duus.johansen@regionh.dk