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"Targeting smootH muscle cells for atherOsclerosis theRapy"

The THOR project (2021-2023) aimed to build a knowledge base for development of the next generation of anti-atherosclerotic drugs. Smooth muscle cells play a central role in the development of atherosclerosis and therefore the THOR team et out to identify both genes and biological pathways that modulate the role of smooth muscle cells in atherosclerosis development.

The THOR team combined both human genetic studies with functional studies on smooth muscle cells in the lab and they identified a set of candidate genes and associated pathways, which may be intersting targets for drug therapy of atherosclerosis.

On this page you can can watch a video recorded at the beginning of the THOR project. You can also read an article on the output of the project.


Academic team members

  • Jacob Fog Bentzon, Professor, Aarhus University
  • Mette Nyegaard, Professor, Aalborg University
  • Julian Albarrán-Juárez, Asst. Professor, Aarhus University
  • Anton Markov, postdoc, Aarhus University
  • Lisa Maria Røge
  • Sidsel Hauge Bøttcher

Industrial team members

  • Michael Nyberg, Novo Nordisk 
  • Giulia Borghetti, Novo Nordisk 
  • Kate Herum, Novo Nordisk 
  • Anna Uryga, Novo Nordisk 
  • Julian Bachmann, Novo Nordisk 
  • Djorde Djordevic, Novo Nordisk 
  • Line Jessen, Novo Nordisk

"The findings from the THOR project offer a novel map of atherosclerosis-associated pathways within smooth muscle cells. 

We hope and expect that this rich data will support drug development – and drug repurposing – in the fight against atherosclerosis.”


Jacob Fog Bentzon, Head of the THOR project

"Understanding the role of SMCs in atherosclerosis and how to target these cells is not a one-man job.

Here, a team of dynamic, interactive, innovative, and interdisciplinary members were truly needed to fully disclose the complex mechanisms at play.”


Michael Nyberg, Novo Nordisk

Industry partner in the THOR project

“The ODIN model, where the collaboration between universities and companies is not complicated by money or IP rights, combines the best of two worlds.

The freedom of research and the openness of the academic world is combined with the strong strategic and application-oriented approach from the commercial world. It's a strong mix.”


Jacob Fog Bentzon, Head of the THOR project


We unite right minds from industry and academia so that they can jointly create need-driven research projects - and pave the way for innovative new treatments in the future. Through competitive funding calls, we fund the best projects ideas. Although companies cannot receive funding, it is free of charge to join.

The 5-year platform is sponsored by the Novo Nordisk Foundation with 180 M DKK from 2024-2028.


You are always welcome to reach out if you have questions or comments. Reach out to odin@au.dk or find the Secretariat's direct email addresses under contacts.

Although we're spanning five Danish universities, we're based in Aarhus. Our office is located at Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade 121, blg 1521-216.