Personal profile


2018-2020 Head of Studies for Medical Biology (Bachelor subject module and Masters' program)


Lecturer on the following courses:

Pharmacology (course administrator) 

Patophysiology and Immunology

Seminar course on Genomics and Metabolism

Project group supervisor

Masters' Thesis supervisor

PhD supervisor


Previously taught:

Human biology and evolution (introductory course)

Eukaryotic cell biology

Advanced eucaryotic cell biology


Seminar course in Diabetes Mellitus and Beta-cell Biology

Experimental Cell Biology



The research interests of the microRNA and diabetes biology Group focuses (not surprisingly) on diabetes mellitus and the insulin secreting β-cell, which is located in the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. We are particularly interested in the role of the non-coding RNA species called microRNAs.

The lab has several projects that focus on the molecular events leading to β-cell failure during development of Type 2 diabetes mellitus. We are also generally interested in mechanisms in cell or molecular biology involved in development of diabetes mellitus and its complications. We are also investigating how microRNAs in the blood stream may be used as biomarkers to gain knowledge on risk of diabetic complications or progression to diabetes development; for example during development of pregnancy-induced diabetes.

MicroRNAs are tiny 21-23bp single-stranded RNAs that the cell endogenously express. The microRNA is transcribed as a longer precursor with a stem loop structure. Subsequently the miRNA is excised from the stem loop and transported out of the nucleus where it enters the same RISC complex as exogenously added small interfering RNA do. The microRNA then act as a transcriptional or translational repressor by binding to mRNA targets. Complete base pairing between the microRNA and the target mRNA will direct target mRNA degradation, while incomplete base pairing will halt translation of the mRNA. Thus, due to the small size and the possibility of incomplete base pairing a single microRNA may have multiple target mRNAs. MicroRNA thus acts as an extra layer of gene-regulation on top of the normal gene-regulation by transcription factors and cellular signalling.  The lab is interested in the role of miRNAs in β-cell development and β-cell function. We are also involved in projects looking at microRNAs as biomarkers for development of diabetes-related traits.

The role of oxidative stress and anti-oxidative proteins following exposure of β-cells to increased glucose and fatty acid levels is a field of long-time interest. The putative anti-oxidative protein Uncoupling protein 2 is induced by glucose and fatty acids, but this induction causes defective insulin secretion. However, the induction of UCP2, while causing β-cell dysfunction, presumably protects against apoptosis due to oxidative stress. 

The lab uses general molecular biology and cell biology tools to study the questions at hand. These include Q-PCR, cloning (expression, RNAi), northern blotting, western blotting, promoter studies, transfektion of cells. In general we use either isolated islets of Langerhans or a transformed β-cell line (insulinoma cells) for our experiments. Our research typically involves measuring insulin secretion, insulin content, cell survival or apoptosis, ATP content and various other metabolic assays. In order to investigate how molecular and cellular events depend on specific microRNAs we generate genetically modified cell lines either specifically over-expressing the microRNA or selectively deplete its levels.

Research focus

  • Endocrinology and  metabolism  
  • Genetics/genomics of endocrinology, diabetes and obesity
  • Development of novel biomarkers for patient stratification and improved prognosis of patients with focus on, but not limited to, the metabolic reproductive syndrome (PCOS) and diabetic foot ulceration
  • How the metabolic syndrome causes pancreatic beta cell dysfunction
  • How microRNAs regulate cellular metabolism and mitochondrial function, and the function of pancreatic β-cells



Current projects

  • MicroRNA biomarkers in general; MicroRNA profiling in patients with the reproductive metabolic syndrome (PCOS) – evaluations of microRNAs as potential biomarkers from follicular fluid obtained at IVF or from base-line serum.
  • MicroRNAs associating with childhood obesity and associated risk factors, such as hepatic steatosis and cardiovascular risk factors.
  • MicroRNAs in chronic diabetic complications, such as the impaired wound healing of long-standing diabetes mellitus. In this cross disciplinary project we have profiled microRNAs altered in diabetes during wound healing in a mouse model and have tested microRNA inhibitors together with antibacterial peptides for their effect to improve wound healing in vivo. In a related project my group relates microRNA levels in diabetic foot ulcer swaps with healing progression.
  • MicroRNA in mitochondria as molecular targets in metabolism. We have discovered that certain microRNAs are depleted or enriched in the cellular organelle, the mitochondria. This project has the aim to map microRNAs changed in mitochondria from liver or skeletal muscle in diabetic or obese rodent models, and to characterize their modes of action and transport.
  • MicroRNAs in pancreatic islets and their role in glucose toxicity or islet cell proliferation. We have discovered that microRNA-29 family members are upregulated by chronically elevated glucose (glucose toxicity) and are currently investigating the molecular mechanisms by which miR-29a decreases beta cell function.




2001    Ph.D., Biomedicine, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Subject: Genetics of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Mentors: Oluf Pedersen and Torben Hansen. Steno Diabetes Center (1997-2001)

1998    M.Sc. Human Biology, Faculty of Health Science, University of Copenhagen (1995-1998). Thesis work at StenoDiabetesCenter. Subject: Genetics of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Mentor: Oluf Pedersen

1995              Biotechnology and chemistry bachelor studies. University of Aarhus, Denmark (1992-                                                            1995)

1992    International Student Program,University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma, USA. Chemistry and biochemistry (1991-1992)

Professional positions

2017-p.t.         Professor of Medical Biology, Dep. of Science, Roskilde University

2007-2017       Associate professor in Medical Biology, Dep. of Science, Roskilde University

2012-2012       Sabbatical – Visiting scientist. Marie Krogh Center for Basic Metabolic Research, Section for Metabolic Genetics, University of Copenhagen (4 months).

2011-2012       Maternity leave (9 months)

2008-2009       Maternity leave (11 months)

2006-2007    Maternity leave (9 months)

2004-2007       Assistant professor (from  2006 Associate prof.), the Diabetes Group, Dep. of Medical Biochemistry and Genetics, University of Copenhagen.

2003-2004       Research Scientist, Dep. of Virology, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark. Area of work: Development of real-time PCR-diagnostics for detection of human pathogenic virus.

2001-2003    Post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Bradford B. Lowell, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard                                                    Medical School, Boston, MA. Research area: Type 2 diabetes and  obesity.

1997-2001    Ph.d.-studies in the genetics of type 2 diabetes and obesity at DiabetesCenter,                                                      Gentofte, Denmark

1994                Summer internship, Novo Nordisk A/S


Administrative service

2018-p.t.         Head of Studies of Medical Biology, Dep. Science, Roskilde University, Denmark

2018-2023       Appointed member of the Education Committee, Danish Diabetes Academy. Duties: Planning the scientific program of the yearly Summer School for PhD students and participating in planning and priorization of Danish Diabetes Academy events.

2019                Organizer of the symposium Non-coding RNAs in Metabolic Disease, May 6-9, 2019

2019                Organizer of the 2nd Danish Diabetes Academy Wound Healing Workshop, January 2-4, 2019

2018-p.t.         Appointed to the Ethics committee for the national Genome Center Denmark   

2015                Organizer of the Danish Diabetes Academy Symposium MicroRNAs in Metabolism held November 11-13, 2015 in Hellerup, Denmark

2015                Organizer of a Workshop on Diabetic Wound healing, Roskilde, Denmark, March 2015

2015-               Co-manager of the RUC NGS sequencing facility.

2014-               Member of the Rector Advisory Committee and the Education Committee, Roskilde University (re-elected 2016, 2017)

2014-               Member of the Bibliometric Research Activity Indicator committee nr. 62 (basal medical subjects)

2013-18           Appointed member of the Education Committee, Danish Diabetes Academy. Duties: Planning the scientific program of the yearly Summer School for PhD students and participating in planning and priorization of Danish Diabetes Academy events.

2008-2014    Member of the Study Board for Biology, Roskilde University

2007-               Member of the Censor List for Biology, the Censor List of Nutrition and the Censor List for Engineering


Scientific associations and editorial experience

2015-                                  Member, European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD)

2015-                                  Member, EASD Islet Study Group

2012-               Member of the Danish Diabetes Academy

2009-               Faculty at the Danish Ph.D. School of Molecular Metabolism and Endocrinology

2007-                                  Member, Danish Biochemical Society (Biokemisk Forening)


2014                                   Guest Editor, Genes (Basel): Special Issue entitled ‘MicroRNA Regulation’


2004-                                  Ad hoc reviewer for:

Acta Physiologica

AJP - Endocrinology and Metabolism

American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Cancer Biomarkers

Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry

Cerebrovascular Diseases


Diabetes & Metabolism



Experimental Cell Research

FASEB Journal

Fertility and Sterility

Frontiers in Endocrinology



Hormone and Metabolic Research

Human Molecular Genetics

Human Reproduction

International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology (IJBCB)

International Journal of Obesity

Journal of Anatomy

Journal of Cellular Biochemistry

Journal of Endocrinology

Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology

Molecular Genetics and Metabolism

Nucleic Acid Research


Pflugers Archive-European Journal of Physiology


Regulatory peptides

Scientific Reports


Member of research grants and funding panels


Grant reviews:

Wallenberg Foundation

Estonian Research Foundation

Wellcome Trust

Diabetes UK 

Research Council UK

The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development

The Polish Science Foundation

Påhlssons Stiftelse, Sweden

Danish Diabetes Academy 

Qatar National Research Fund  


Grant support (+16 mio DKK)

2018-21                       Guest professorship for Anand Hardikar, Danish Diabetes Academy (co-applicant, DKK 400.000)

2018-21                       Post-doctoral fellowship for Anja Elaine Sørensen, Danish Diabetes Academy (DKK 2.000.000)

2017-18                       Guest professorship for Anand Hardikar, Danish Diabetes Academy (co-applicant, DKK 250.000).

2015-17                       EFSD European Research Programme in Microvascular Complications of Diabetes supported by Novartis (co-applicant, Euro 100.000 total).

2015-16                       Sponsor for 3 EFSD Albert Renolds travel fellowships to visiting scholars (Negar Saliani, Rita Sá Ferreira, Ashish Kumar, Euro 8.000 each)

2015                            Danish Diabetes Academy sponsored Workshop on diabetic wound healing (DKK 50.000)

2013-2014                   NovoNordisk Foundation (DKK 200.000) for the project “Physiological roles of miR-21 and miR-29a for beta-cell function and replication in the neonate and in the adult”

2013-2016                   Danish research council for health (FSS) (DKK 2.591.000) for the project “Micro-RNA in mitochondria as molecular targets in metabolism”

2013-2016                   Post-doctoral fellowship from the Danish Diabetes Academy to Sofia Salö (DKK 1.800.000)

2013-2016                   Ph.D.-student grant (1/3 financing) from the Danish Diabetes Academy to Anja Sørensen (DKK 550.000). 2/3 financing from Roskilde University.

2013-2015                   Co-investigator on Grant for fertility innovation (GFI, Euro 173.000): “MicroRNAs in biobank serum, follicular fluid and cumulus cells of women with polycystic ovary syndrome and healthy, regularly cycling women”

2008-2011                   Danish research council for technology and production (DKK 2.718.000) for the project ”Development of a new diagnostic test for blood glucose monitoring in diabetic patients – an alternative to the HbA1c test” on identification and characteristics of glucose-regulated microRNA

2006-2008                   Member of the Danish Innovation consortia ’Dansk micro-RNA konsortium’, with support of DKK 2.000.000 over 3 years for post doc

2004-2007                   Danish Medical Research Council: Research grant for studies at Department of Medical Biochemistry and Genetics at University of Copenhagen (salary and consumables). Other grant support: Novo Nordisk Foundation, Danish Diabetes Assocation, Haensch Foundation, Aase and Ejner Danielsens Foundation

2001-2003                   Danish Medical Research Council: Research grant for post-doctoral studies at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA (full salary and travel costs).

1997-2000                          Ph.d.-scholarship from University of Copenhagen

1991-1992                   Full scholarship from Thanks to Scandinavia Foundation for studies at University of Oklahoma, USA.


Scientific awards

2013, 1998                  Poul and Erna Sehested-Hansen Foundation Honor Bursary

1998, 1999, 2000        Travel grants for the European Association of Diabetes meetings from the Danish Diabetes Assocation

1994                            Manufacturer Åge Lichtingers Scholarship (for academic achievement)


Invited talks

2019                            Invited speaker, Seminar at Medical University of Graz, Austria

                                    Invited speaker, 2nd Danish Diabetes Academy Wound Healing Workshop, Roskilde, Denmark

2018                            Invited speaker 78th Scientific Sessions, American Diabetes Association, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.

2018                            Invited speaker, CUDOS 2018(Conference on Understanding molecular mechanisms underlying cardiovascular disease, Diabetes, Obesity and Stroke),, Doha, Qatar

2017                            Invited speaker, Modelling day 2017, Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark

2017                            Invited speaker, CUDOS 2017,  Doha, Qatar

2016                            Seminar, Department of Cellular Physiology and Metabolism, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

2015                            Invited speaker, Supa2015 – Sulfation pathways, Greifswald, Germany

2015                            Gubra (contract research organization) seminar on microRNAs, Hørsholm, Denmark

2014                            Invited speaker, XI International Molecular Biology and Genetics Winter School, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey

2014                            Invited speaker, Mitochondrial workshop, European Society for Clinical Investigation, 48th Annual Scientific Meeting, Utrecht, The Netherlands

2014                            Invited speaker, International Symposium on Non-coding RNAs in health and disease, Medicon Village, Lund, Sweden.

2013                            Invited speaker, Danish Fertily Society, Interest group. Presentation of microRNAs as biomarkers, Odense, Denmark

2013                            Oral presentation, Øresund Islet Study Group, Copenhagen

2004                            Oral presentation, European Society for Clinical Virology, Copenhagen        


Invited chair/discussion moderator


2018                            Danish Diabetes Academy Summer School, Chair on 3 sessions

2017                            Danish Diabetes Academy Winter School. Judge at Diabetes Challenge.

2016                            RUC. Panel discussion at Seminar on Open Publishing

2016                            Danish Diabetes Academy Summer School, Chair on 2 sessions

2015                            Danish Diabetes Academy Summer School, Chair on 2 sessions

2015                            Danish Diabetes Academy Winter School, Chair on 1 session

2015                            Symposium MicroRNAs in Metabolism, Chair on 3 sessions

2014                            Danish Diabetes Academy Summer School, Chair on 1 session

2006                            Genomics of Hyperglycemia, EASD satellite meeting, Elsinore, Chair on high-throughput genotyping session


Official opponent at Ph.D.-dissertations

2018                            Line Engelbrechtsen (University of Copenhagen), Anna Kirstine Ringgaard (University of Copenhagen)

2017                            Ryan Farr (University of Sydney), Nasim Samandari (University of Copenhagen), Mette Hollensted (University of Copenhagen)

2016                            Jeanette S. Kirkegaard (University of Copenhagen), Tasnim Dayeh (Lund University)

2015                            Vishal Salunkhe (Lund University)

2013                            Tina Fløyel (University of Copenhagen), Tine G. K. Jensen (University of Copenhagen)

2012                                                         Anders Ohlsson (Lund University)

2010                                                         Mette Boyd (University of Copenhagen)


Chair of Ph.D.-dissertations at Roskilde University:

2016                                                         Jesper Olsen

2013                                                         Julie Hentze

2011                                                         Anders Lorentzen

2007                                                         Julie Boberg


  • Health, Medicine
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus
  • Betacell biology
  • Betacell dysfunction
  • Islets of Langerhans
  • Oxidative stress
  • Mitochondria
  • Biology, Biotechnology
  • Transcriptional biology
  • Intracellular signalling
  • MicroRNA

Publication network

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