Peter Refsing Andersen awarded the Hallas-Møller Emerging Investigator grant

Postdoc Peter Refsing Andersen from the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) at Vienna BioCenter in Austria has been awarded a Hallas-Møller Emerging Investigator grant of DKK 10 mio. (ca. Euro 1,342,320) over the next five years to establish a research group at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, AU, to study genetic parasites.

2018.04.04 | Lisbeth Heilesen

Postdoc Peter Refsing Andersen has been awarded a Hallas-Møller Emerging Investigator grant of DKK 10 mio. over the next five years to establish a research group at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, AU, to study genetic parasites. Photo: Ernst Tobisch.

Genetic parasites, such as viruses and transposons (‘jumping genes’), have colonized the genomes of virtually all life forms. The battle between the host genomes and the genetic parasites creates an evolutionary arms race – a state of accelerated innovation of gene regulation mechanisms. With the Hallas-Møller Emerging Investigator Fellowship, Peter Refsing Andersen will establish a research team to uncover new mechanisms of gene regulation through studies of arms races between host genomes and genetic parasites.

Peter did his PhD studies at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, AU, where he investigated how human cells sort gene products, so-called RNA molecules, so that the right ones are kept in the cell, while the damaged and useless ones are destined for degradation. Peter then received grants from both Alfred Benzon Fonden and Novo Nordisk Fonden to move Vienna to perform research in one of the world-leading laboratories in the understanding of how genetic parasites are kept in check via the regulation of RNA molecules.

Through studies of the arms race between host genomes and genetic parasites, Peter has during these postdoctoral studies uncovered new molecular mechanisms that bend and bypass the normal rules of gene regulation. This has resulted in an article published in Nature last year that describes how a normal gene silencing mechanism, through the arms race innovation, has been ‘hacked’ to in fact turn on genes (which in turn silence genetic parasites!). By discovering such ‘hacked’ gene mechanism, Peter’s research group will bring new insight both about how genes in general are regulated and about how our genomes fight back against genetic parasites.


 

About the Hallas-Møller Emerging Investigator grants

The purpose of the Hallas-Møller Emerging Investigator grants is to support and strengthen the development of promising young research leaders in Denmark within bioscience and basic biomedicine, which mainly focus on health and disease and understanding the human organism.

The grants are one part of the Foundation’s new Research Leader Programme, which aims to ensure that the best research leaders at all stages of their careers have the opportunity to pursue ambitious and meaningful projects.


 

For further information, please contact

Postdoc Peter Refsing Andersen
Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, Vienna BioCenter, Austria
peter.andersen@imba.oeaw.ac.at

Grant