University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


DKK 42 million to develop new drugs to treat autism and schizophrenia

Innovation — With two huge grants behind him, Professor Kristian Strømgaard can now spend three to five years closely studying the development of proteins in brain cells.

Who is he?

Kristian Strømgaard, who became a professor at the University of Copenhagen in 2006, is in particular drawn to high-risk research. Research, that is, where it can be difficult to achieve results.

This is one of the reasons why Kristian Strømgaard has chosen to get involved in the challenging research area of biomolecular condensates. It is about understanding how proteins are organised in cells.

The biomolecular condensates were first described by science in 2009. The proteins are part of a process in the cells that is vital to their functioning and development – and which can end up affecting our health.

But they are also completely new opportunities, according to Kristian Strømgaard:

»Drugs work primarily on proteins, so when we know more about how the proteins condense, we don’t have far to go before new drugs can be developed. Over the next three to five years, we will work on making medicine for diseases such as autism, schizophrenia and intellectual disability, all caused by mutations in the proteins that condense in our cells.«

Kristian Strømgaard and his colleagues have previously developed substances that can affect one of the most important proteins, PSD-95, so his group already has extensive experience in the area.

At his Strømgaard Lab research group at the Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology at the University of Copenhagen, they also hope that the substances developed can mitigate the harmful effects of blood clots in the brain. There is currently no effective medicine against them.

Why am I reading about him now?

Within the last 12 months, Kristian Strømgaard has received two major grants totalling DKK 42 million, each with its own purpose, but which together increase the likelihood that new drugs can be developed.

»It was fantastic, of course, to get all the funding, and we are all full of energy now at Strømgaard Lab so that we can solve this task. If everything goes well over the next five years, we hope to be able to establish new drugs for treatments of a wide range of diseases in the brain,« says Kristian Strømgaard.

In December 2022, Kristian Strømgaard got a DKK 20 million grant from the Lundbeck Foundation for basic research into biomolecular condensates. The grant is aimed towards discoveries that help develop new medicine related to neurological disorders.

In 2023, he also received a DKK 22 million grant from the Bioinnovation Institute to make good on the various potentials from basic scientific discoveries that Strømgaard Lab would make over the coming years.

Where have I heard about this person before?

Kristian Strømgaard got the University of Copenhagen’s Innovation Award in 2021 and has met many people along the way. He graduated as a pharmacist in 1996 and has a PhD. in medicinal chemistry from 1999.

He is now 53 years old and has been a track athlete. He continues to run and cycle, but no longer competitively.

He has a wife and two children and has just moved from Roskilde to the Carlsberg Byen quarter in Copenhagen closer to his workplace.

What should I do now?

For those who are particularly interested in biomedical research, there is a link to the Strømgaard Lab here.

In 2023, two researchers received The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for their research into biomolecular condensates. The two are Anthony A. Hyman and Clifford P. Brangwynne.

It was the Novo Nordisk Foundation that set up the Bioinnovation Institute in 2017 with the purpose of being able to mature new scientific discoveries within pharmaceuticals and biotechnology to make them ready for commercialization.