The LEO Foundation Award 2011 – Silver Award

Grantee: Dr. Charlotte Menné Bonefeld

Amount: DKK 500,000

Presented to Dr. Charlotte Menné Bonefeld, a Danish immunologist with a strong interest in dermatological research.

Despite her young age, Dr. Bonefeld has already made a significant contribution to the field of dermatology. Her research achievements include novel promising findings showing down-regulation of the immune system (a process known as tolerance) when an individual is exposed repeatedly to strong allergens such as those present in hair dyes. These results give great perspectives in finding new treatments and, equally important, give novel insight into why some people become allergic and some do not.

The LEO Foundation Award 2011 – Gold Award

Grantee: Dr. Claus Johansen

Amount: DKK 1,000,000

Presented to the Danish dermatological researcher Dr. Claus Johansen.

Over the years, Dr. Johansen’s research has been particularly focused on unravelling the complex network of intra-cellular signals controlling inflammatory skin disorders, particularly in psoriasis. Dr. Johansen’s work has significantly increased the current understanding of the inflammatory process in psoriasis. This knowledge is important for the future development of novel therapeutics which will ultimately provide better care for the psoriasis patients.

Skin cancer awareness bus

Grantee: Danish Pharmacy Association and Professor Hans Christian Wulf, Bispebjerg University Hospital, Denmark

Amount: DKK 3,042,000

The LEO Foundation funded the visit of a “Skin Cancer Awareness Bus” to 30 Danish cities and 15 campsites during the summer of 2011.

This initiative was part of a national ‘keep an eye on your skin’ awareness campaign run by the Danish Pharmacy Association with Professor Hans Christian Wulf, Bispebjerg University Hospital, Denmark.

The objective of the tour was to improve awareness in the general population of potential health consequences of sun exposure (actinic keratosis (AK) and skin cancer), and to educate on preventive measures linked to skin type as well as to improve current clinical knowledge of skin type and impact of UV radiation.

On the bus, visitors could fill out a questionnaire on previous sun exposure, sunburn, AK, skin cancers, etc., as well as receive an assessment of their skin type and a UV photo depicting sun damage in underlying skin.

Awareness of AK and skin cancer is currently limited to dermatologists and general practitioners, and patients are mostly unaware of impact and symptoms – and therefore also the notion of self-checking and importance of early diagnosis.

The lack of awareness is critical given the continuously growing prevalence of AK, and the growing consensus about perceiving AK as a precursor and an early stage of squamous cell carcinoma.
Questionnaires and skin type data have been linked to each respondent’s PNR (CPR) number, facilitating future research through registry linkage to e.g. the Danish Cancer Registry, National Patient Registry, etc.

The LEO Foundation Award 2010 – Silver Award

Grantee: Dr. Andor Pivarcsi

Amount: DKK 500,000

Presented to Dr. Andor Pivarcsi, young dermatology researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden for his investigation of the role of microRNAs (miRNA) in skin disease.

Dr.Pivarsci’s work centres on miRNAs, a class of recently discovered small RNA molecules, shown to play a critical role in controlling genes behaviour. His research is expected to contribute significantly to our understanding of the pathological mechanisms in skin diseases, such as psoriasis and cancer.

The LEO Foundation Award 2010 – Gold Award

Grantee: Dr. Jacob Pontoppidan Thyssen

Amount: DKK 1,000,000

Presented to young Danish dermatology researcher and MD Jacob Pontoppidan Thyssen for his important contributions to the field of skin disease and contact allergy science.

Dr. Thyssen’s research provides conclusive evidence that the Danish initiative to regulate nickel exposure, started in 1990, has succeeded in decreasing the prevalence of nickel allergy in Danish women. His findings, published in The New England Journal of Medicine last year, hold global relevance and may contribute to interventions in other nations, including the US.

The LEO Foundation Award 2009 – Silver Award

Grantee: Dr. Ilkka Helanterä

Amount: DKK 500,000

Presented to promising young Finnish physician and scientist Ilkka Helanterä who, at age 31, has already contributed significantly to the field of transplantation nephrology, both in the laboratory and the clinic.

Following his dissertation in 2006, Dr. Helanterä continued his research at the Helsinki University Hospital nephrology clinic, where he published several clinically relevant studies focusing on viral infections after transplantation and the pathogenesis of chronic allograft nephropathy. Dr. Helanterä will undoubtedly be a significant contributor in the international nephrology field in the future.

The LEO Foundation Award 2009 – Gold Award

Grantee: Dr. Christian Vestergaard

Amount: DKK 1,000,000

Presented to Danish dermatology researcher and dermatologist Dr. Christian Vestergaard, Department of Dermatology at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark.

Dr. Vestergaard is a young talented scientist with an outstanding record of internationally recognised publications, and innovative ongoing research projects within the frontier fields of skin immunology and skin cancer. The award supports and acknowledges his work, and recognises his important role – linking basic science to the understanding of clinical questions.

The LEO Foundation Award 2008 – Silver Award

Grantee: Dr. William Agace

Amount: DKK 500,000

Presented to British researcher William Agace. Agace and his research team investigated the underlying control mechanisms for the processes behind the generation and movement of lymphocytes in the intestines, and identified the factors that determine which are activated and where they go in the intestinal system.

Insight gained from William Agace’s research will enable new and more targeted therapies for ailments such as chronic inflammatory bowel disease, a serious disorder with only limited treatment options available today. William Agace earned his MSc at Bristol University in microbiology, and his PhD in immunology from Lund University. In the late 1990’s, he spent three years as a postdoc at Harvard Medical School. In 2006, he was appointed professor of experimental medical research and head of the immunology section at Lund University. He has published more than 35 original articles and several book chapters.

The LEO Foundation Award 2008 – Gold Award

Grantee: Dr. Lars Norlén

Amount: DKK 1,000,000

Presented to Swedish researcher Lars Norlén. Norlén and his team develop new advanced biophysical measuring methods to describe the molecular structure of the skin barrier.

The frontline research of Lars Norlén will contribute to our fundamental understanding of how drugs impact and interact with their target proteins in connection with the treatment of diseases such as psoriasis. Dr. Norlén holds an MD from Karolinska Institutet, and is a group manager for biophysical dermatology at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. He has worked at universities in Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland, and co-authored more than 25 original articles and several book chapters.