Professor Poul Nissen, Director of DANDRITE, receives the Anders Jahre Senior Medical Prize 2021

Prof. Nissen recognised for his ground-breaking research into the structure and function of membrane proteins.

Photo of Poul Nissen smiling at the camera, wearing blue shirt and glasses.
Professor Poul Nissen awarded Anders Jahre's major medical award in 2021 for his research in membrane proteins. Photo: Lisbeth Heilesen.

The Nordic EMBL Partnership warmly congratulates Professor Poul Nissen on being awarded the prestigious Anders Jahre Senior Medical Prize 2021. 

Prof. Nissen is director of the Nordic EMBL Partnership’s Danish node, DANDRITE (Danish Research Institute of Translational Neuroscience), and the Speaker of the Nordic EMBL Partnership. He has been honoured for his pioneering research into the structure and function of membrane proteins. Awarded annually by the University of Oslo, the Anders Jahre Medical Prize is amongst the most prestigious medical prizes in the Nordics. It rewards Nordic researchers for their outstanding international research. Prof. Nissen’s research has been recognized for its important contributions to the understanding of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and psychiatric disorders. 

Understanding membrane function has implications for improving patient outcomes

The body’s cells are enclosed by a membrane of fats that form a barrier between the cell and its surroundings. Within the cells, there are also areas separated by fat membranes where proteins are found. These proteins have extremely important functions. For example, in the intestine, these membrane proteins are responsible for helping the body to absorb nutrients. Other vital bodily functions, such as the beating of the human heart, are only able to operate thanks to the function of these membranes. 

To fully understand how these membrane proteins function, it is important to know how they are structured; something that has proved very challenging. However, thanks to Prof. Nissen’s studies, the structure of many of the body’s important membrane proteins have been solved, thus leading researchers to better understand how these central bodily functions operate. 

Pioneering structural biology researcher, revered in the Nordics and beyond

An internationally renowned scientist, Prof. Nissen is regarded as one of the most high profile structural biologists in the Nordics. He has contributed to significant findings within structural biology. He is also at the forefront of an internationally regarded research environment at Aarhus University, Denmark.

Prof. Nissen comments: 

“I am completely overwhelmed at receiving the Anders Jahre Prize 2021 from the University of Oslo. This is a huge recognition of our research on the structure and mechanisms of membrane transport in cells, and I am deeply grateful. Our research is based on many fruitful collaborations and contacts over the last 20 years, and I look forward to being able to thank you. 

“Oslo is able to honour science and its significance in the best way, something I have previously experienced at the Jahre Prize for Young Researchers, the Kavli Symposium and the Guldberg-Waage Day in 2014 - and what I am very much looking forward to experiencing with Andres Jahre- the award in 2021.

In addition, the Anders Jahre Prize for a Young Researcher is awarded to Professor Barbara van Loon, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), for her studies of the cellular response to DNA damage and its significance for cancer and developmental disorders in the nervous system.

Professor Janna Saarela, Director of NCMM (University of Oslo) adds:

“On behalf of NCMM, I congratulate Prof. Nissen on receiving this prestigious award for his ground-breaking research into understanding the structure and function of membrane proteins. This type of structural biology research is important for both the work we do at NCMM and across the Nordic EMBL Partnership, and we look forward to new and fruitful collaborations in the future.”  

Rector of the University of Oslo, Svein Stølen, concludes:

“I am pleased that UiO has the honour of awarding this prestigious Nordic medicine prize, and we congratulate the prize winners. Over the past year, we have seen how crucial medical research is for society, and Nissen and van Loon receive the award for outstanding research in basic medicine.”

Nordic network for facilitating outstanding basic research

The University of Oslo is connected to Aarhus University via the Nordic EMBL Partnership. The Partnership has four nodes, based at Aarhus University (DANDRITE), the University of Oslo (NCMM), the University of Helsinki (FIMM), and Umeå University (MIMS). 

The four nodes share expertise and contribute to joint projects, all with the ultimate aim of galvanising the excellent basic and molecular research environments within these Nordic countries to tackle some of the most urgent challenges in biology and disease. 

About the Anders Jahre Senior Medical Prize

The Anders Jahre Prizes have been awarded by the University of Oslo since 1960 and are divided into themain prize and a prize for younger researchers, which Poul Nissen also received in 2006 . 

The Senior Medical Prize rewards the winner with a grant of 1m NOK.