24 June 2021

SIC welcomes two translational BRIDGE fellows


The Skin Inflammation and Cancer Group has been awarded two of this year’s competitive Translational Excellence Programme Fellowships. Over the next two years, the new talented BRIDGE fellows will train their skills in translational medicine and conduct novel studies in chronic spontaneous urticaria and pancreas cancer, respectively.

Katrine Baumann and Morten Orebo Holmström join the Skin Inflammation and Cancer Group at SIC for their two-year BRIDGE fellowships.

Patient stratification can lead to personalised treatment
PhD Katrine Baumann joins SIC and the BRIDGE Programme with a project that aims to shed light on chronic spontaneous urticaria – an often overlooked skin disease despite being severely debilitating and affecting nearly 1% of the world’s population. It is believed to be driven by activated mast cells, but the exact disease mechanisms are still unknown. With the new fellowship, Katrine Baumann and her mentor team will study comprehensive patient data and analyse samples using advanced methods such as spatial transcriptomics to gain new insights about the disease.

‘Patients with chronic spontaneous urticaria are currently stratified into two groups, but the high number of patients not responding to treatment indicates that there are more subgroups that need to be identified. We aim to identify novel biomarkers that enable robust patient stratification in order to facilitate highly personalised treatment and thereby advance therapeutic outcomes, she says.

Katrine Baumann’s translational mentor team consists of Professor Anders Woetmann from LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center, Professor Simon Francis Thomsen from Department of Dermato-Venereology, Bispebjerg Hospital, and Professor Per Stahl Skov from biotech company RefLab.

New skills in handling big data
PhD Morten Orebo Holmström, MD, joins SIC with a promising translational project and great expectations to how the BRIDGE programme can leverage his research and career. He is working on a method to increase the response level for immune therapy for pancreas cancer. It is well-known that immune therapy has a very low effect in pancreas cancer, partially due to the high amount of two specific cytokines which send signals to weaken the immune system. Cytokines are small proteins that are crucial in regulating the growth and activity of immune system cells and blood cells. Morten and his team will explore how they can enable immune cells to find and kill cells that express the two cytokines. With the expertise of his mentors and courses from the Academic Curriculum tied to the BRIDGE programme, he hopes to get closer to a treatment for pancreas cancer:

'My motivation for applying for the BRIDGE programme is to get to the core of translational research. I have great expectations to the very interesting and relevant courses that will improve my ability to handle big data, which I can use in my project and in my career. It will definitely supplement my medical education, which did not focus that much on translational research and the process beyond. So the programme will without a doubt boost my career', he says.

Morten Orebo Holmström’s mentors are Professor Niels Ødum from LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center, UCPH, Clinical Professors Julia Johansen from Department of Oncology and Medicine, Herlev-Gentofte Hospital, and Professor Mads Hald Andersen from Department of Immunology and Microbiology, UCPH, and National Center for Cancer Immune Therapy at Herlev-Gentofte Hospital.  

About the BRIDGE – Translational Excellence Programme
The BRIDGE – Translational Excellence Programme was founded in 2018 with funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The postdoctoral BRIDGE fellowships in translational medicine are offered to selected researchers working on translational research projects at the University of Copenhagen.

The fellows have two to three mentors representing basic biomedical research, the clinical environment and/or the life science industry enabling them to combine methods and insights from the different fields into translational research. 14 fellowships have been awarded in 2021.

Read more about BRIDGE

Read more about the Skin Inflammation and Cancer Group