Grants for three diabetes projects to support international research of the highest calibre

Three Researchers from Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen (SDCC) were awarded funding for their projects in the first ever round of Steno Collaborative Grants. These projects have been planned in collaboration with researchers at regional, national and international level and will support the goals of delivering research collaboration and research results of the highest international standard.


Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen (SDCC) received grants of DKK 20 million from the Steno Collaborative Grants, which will enable them to launch three new high-quality research projects. These projects will be carried out in close collaboration with researchers from the other hospitals in the Capital Region of Denmark and from Danish and international universities.

"The three projects which have received grants from the Steno Collaborative Grants are all strong projects. They all have the potential to provide new insights into diabetes and, ultimately, to set new standards for diabetes treatment and prevention," said Allan Flyvbjerg, CEO of Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen.

"The grants will support collaboration at regional, national and international level, and combined with a concerted effort and the strong skill set both within and outside SDCC these grants will enable us to produce research of the highest international standard,” said Mr Flyvbjerg.

Fixed time intervals for meals

Kristine Færch, team leader and senior researcher in Clinical Epidemiology, received the largest of these grants, amounting to around DKK 8.9 million, for an intervention study which will examine whether overweight, pre-diabetic people can reduce their risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease by eating meals at fixed time intervals. 

"Animal and small-scale human studies have previously indicated a positive effect in subjects who restrict their intake of food to a shorter time interval during the daytime, and this is something we wish to examine further in our intervention study," said Ms Færch.

"A fixed circadian rhythm with regard to eating habits and sleep patterns seems to have a positive effect on one’s metabolism in general, and can therefore help to reduce the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease at a later date," explained Ms Færch.

The intervention study plans to recruit around 100 overweight subjects at high risk of developing diabetes. Furthermore, in order to measure the effects, the project’s researchers will, collaborate with international institutions and companies which specialise in measuring intentional and unintentional behaviour using new technology.

Greenland and heart arrhythmia

The two other Steno Collaborative Grants were awarded to Professor Marit Eika Jørgensen, consultant surgeon in Clinical Research, and Professor Tina Vilsbøll, head of department. Ms Jørgensen received a grant of around DKK 7.7 million for three projects, all of which will take place in Greenland. The first project is based on data from an ongoing population survey. The objective is to establish whether physical activity and a Western diet have the same effects on carbohydrate and fat metabolism in people with or without a genetic predisposition to develop diabetes. The second project is an analysis of a dietary intervention study in which people with and without a genetic disposition to develop diabetes adhere to a traditional Greenlandic diet for a given period of time, and then switch to a mixed, Western diet for a period of time. The objective is to examine the effects of the respective diets on carbohydrate and fat metabolism.

"The last of the three projects concerns intensive physical activity and the importance of physical activity in terms of its effects on fat and muscle in people who are genetically disposed to diabetes based on a genetic variant, TBC1D4, which has only been found in Greenland, and which for example leads to poorer glucose uptake in muscle cells. It is extremely interesting to test a control group against a group with this genetic variant, and hopefully this can contribute to our understanding of what takes place in human muscles during physical activity," said Ms Jørgensen.

Finally, Tina Vilsbøll received DKK 3 million for a project which will examine the connection between low blood sugar and heart arrhythmia in people with type 1 diabetes.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation awarded a total of DKK 42 million from the Steno Collaborative Grants.

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