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AU associate professor receives grant for epilepsy research

Consultant and Clinical Associate Professor Jakob Christensen carries out research into the correlation between epilepsy and psychiatric illness. He has now received DKK five million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation for further studies in this area over the coming five years.

Epilepsy and psychiatric disorders come to expression in very different ways. Nevertheless, there may be a correlation between the two types of disease. This is what clinical associate professor from the Department of Clinical Medicine, Jakob Christensen, will study more closely. During the coming five years, the Novo Nordisk Foundation will provide a salary to enable him to carry out part-time research while he continues his work as consultant at the Department of Neurology at Aarhus University Hospital.

Genetics, environment or both?

According to Jakob Christensen, epilepsy is associated with increased incidences of disease and mortality. Epilepsy therefore has major consequences for both the economy in general and the people affected by it. For the same reason, he is particularly interested in mapping how epilepsy and psychiatric disorders are linked to one another.

In his research Jakob Christensen will incorporate data which combines information from Danish social and health registers and biobanks. Biobanks have gathered many millions of biological samples from the Danish healthcare service. The samples are available to researchers such as Jakob Christensen, who share the goal of developing new medical treatment for patients with epilepsy.

By combining data from both person registers and bioregisters, Jacob Christensen hopes to find the causes of the coherence between the two forms of disease. These have not yet been discovered, and could e.g. be risk factors that emanate from a patient's surrounding environment or their genes.

"Studies in this gene-environment interaction provide an opportunity to study the causes of epilepsy and thus point to methods for preventing epilepsy. The research will therefore be able to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with epilepsy and contribute to the development of better medical treatment," explains Jakob Christensen.

The grant of DKK five million for five years of research was presented to Jakob Christensen on 21 April 2016 at the offices of the Novo Nordisk Foundation in Hellerup, Denmark.

Further information:

Consultant, Clinical Associate Jakob Christensen
Aarhus University, Department of Clinical Medicine and
Aarhus University Hospital, Department of Neurology