3 December 2020

Agnete Kirkeby receives the Sapere Aude Research Leader fellowship


Associate Professor Agnete Kirkeby receives the fellowship from Independent Research Fund Denmark for the project on Derivation of human stem cell-derived hypothalamic neurons for disease modelling and treatment of narcolepsy. The grant is of DKK 6.2 Million.

Agnete Kirkeby

Independent Research Fund Denmark funds specific research activities within all scientific areas that are based on the researchers' own initiatives and that improve the quality and internationalization of Danish research. This year 36 recipients received a total of DKK 220 Million for new and talented Sapere Aude research leaders.

Agnete Kirkeby's project seeks to develop protocols for producing human hypothalamic neurons in culture from stem cells for use in drug screening, disease modelling and cell therapy. They will apply single cell RNA sequencing to dissect the hypothalamic lineage tree during development to enable the production of hypothalamic neurons at a higher efficiency and purity than previously possible. Finally, they will for the first time test the potential of stem cell-derived HCRT neurons to be used as a cell replacement therapy for narcolepsy; a debilitating, neurodegenerative sleep disorder characterised by the selective loss of HCRT neurons from the lateral hypothalamus.

The purpose of our research is to develop new stem cell based treatments to repair the brain in case of disease as well as to produce unique access to human neurons in the lab for research and drug development. In this project we will produce human neurons for studying the causes of obesity and metabolic disorders. We will further explore the use of these neurons as a stem cell treatment for narcolepsy; a therapy which could last life-long and relieve the patients from daily medication.

Agnete Kirkeby