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Pain researcher receives Erhoff Prize 2016

Professor at Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital, Troels Staehelin Jensen, has been awarded the Erhoff Prize of DKK 250,000 for his research into pain.

Troels Staehelin Jensen is described as an elite researcher with major international impact in the recommendation for the Erhoff Prize 2016.

For more than 30 years, he has carried out research into understanding the physiology behind pain and causes of chronic pain that result from either injuries or diseases of the nervous system.

He is occupied by questions such as why some diabetes patients develop neuropathy, which can lead to amputation in a worst-case scenario, while others do not, and how we can prevent the condition from developing.

"People do not die of neuropathy, which may explain why this research area has been neglected. But for the individual patient and from a socio-economic perspective, complications from the disease have major consequences, which is why it is extremely important that we gain more knowledge about the disease," says Professor Troels Staehelin Jensen, who hopes that the award can help to direct even more focus towards the area.

His primary work is heading the International Diabetic Neuropathy Consortium at Aarhus University.

“We combine data from relevant patient registers with samples from more than 6,000 Danish diabetic patients to learn more about why the disease occurs and who develops it.”

Sensation of walking on broken glass

The number of diabetic patients is increasing rapidly all over the world. This means that the cases of diabetic neuropathy are also increasing. Up to half of all diabetic patients develop neuropathy.

Symptoms include a feeling of walking on broken glass, foot pain, cuts on the feet that refuse to heal and difficulty walking. The disease is one of the primary causes of hospital admissions and amputations in diabetics.

"If, for example, it turns out that there are certain metabolic substances in the blood which are detrimental for the nerve cells, then it will hopefully be possible to use this knowledge to develop preventive or inhibiting medicine," he says.

Photos from the award ceremony at the Carlsberg Academy in Copenhagen