Current research projects – University of Copenhagen

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Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research > Student opportunities > Current research projects

Explore and join our current research projects

Are you a BSc. or MSc. student studying Biomedicine, Bioinformatics, Human nutrition, Biology, Medicine or similar?
                  Are you interested in research?
                                      Are you enthusiastic about working at the laboratory?

Explore the exciting projects you can become part of!

The Section for Integrative Physiology is seeking highly motivated students for a range of projects.

Muscle, DNA methylation and exercise

DNA methylation is a major component of epigenetic modifications controlling gene expression and chromatin structure. Previously we have shown that acute exercise can remodel promoter methylation at genes controlling fuel utilization in skeletal muscle (Cell Metab. 2012; 15(3):405-11).

In the current Master project, you will participate in the follow-up study of this work which is to characterize the DNA methylation machinery involved in exercise-induced DNA hypomethylation and determine its role in exercise training in rodent.
Contact Dr. Romain Barres.

Mapping the 3D conformation of chromatin in skeletal muscle

Functional gene elements carried by distinct chromosomes or separate by wide genomic distance are brought to close spatial proximity to regulate gene expression (Science. 2009; 326(5950):289-93). Muscle contraction activates gene expression response to drive for metabolic and contractile apparatus adaptations.The three-dimensional (3D) chromatin remodeling processes engaged by muscle contraction are unknown.

In this project, you will use chromatin conformation capture techniques coupled to sequencing to map the 3D structure of chromosomes in skeletal muscle from human and mouse origin during basal state and after contraction.
For more information, contact Dr. Romain Barres.

Adaptation of skeletal muscle to metabolic stress induced by exercise

A well-established adaptation to exercise training is induction of genes involved in mitochondrial biogenesis. However, the molecular mechanism by which this occurs is not completely understood. Recent studies suggest that NAD-dependent proteins could play an important role (Nature 2009; 458(7241):1056-60).

We have generated a transgenic mouse model lacking Nampt which the rate-limiting enzyme in the NAD salvage pathway, and we hypothesize that these mice will not be able to adapt to exercise to the same degree as wild type littermates.
For more information, contact Dr. Jonas T. Treebak.

Importance of circadian timing of exercise and Vitamin B3 for muscle insulin sensitivity

Exercise is a potent lifestyle intervention to combat metabolic dysfunction and it has beneficial effects on glucose metabolism in type 2 diabetes patients. Under homeostatic conditions, circadian rhythm is a driver of whole body metabolism. Perturbed circadian rhythms (due to night work, travel, many occupational tasks or genetic mutations) are associated with metabolic dysfunction and type 2 diabetes pathogenesis. Yet, the identity of metabolic sensors that act as intermediates coupling circadian rhythm to metabolism, especially insulin resistance, are unknown. We hypothesize that timing of exercise training and supplementation with the Vitamin B3 can induce insulin sensitivity through changes in nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) metabolism in skeletal muscle. We are generating an inducible muscle-specific transgenic mouse model lacking Nampt which the rate-limiting enzyme in the NAD salvage pathway to test this hypothesis.
For more information contact Dr. Jonas T. Treebak.

Exploring the Molecular Mechanisms Controlling Metabolic Functions

The incidence of the metabolic syndrome, a group of interrelated disorders associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is dramatically increasing worldwide. Insulin resistance, i.e. an inappropriate cellular response to insulin, is a crucial player in the development of these disorders. Thus, the complete elucidation of the molecular mechanisms mediating insulin signalling in health and disease is of critical importance.

Employing a combination of quantitative proteomic and phosphoproteomic approaches using animal models of acquired and genetically-induced insulin resistance, together with classic cell biology and integrative physiology experiments, we aim to identify and investigate new important players in the transduction of insulin signalling and regulating metabolic functions.

The Master’s student project will consist in studying previously uncharacterized insulin/IGF-1 targets, and their role as potentially new mediators of this pathway.
For more information contact Dr. Brice Emanuelli.


We are currently recruiting students who want to get involved in our research environment for a period of minimum six months. 

Master Student or Research Year Student for clinical trials with Melatonin

This ad is in Danish because interaction with patients is a natural part of the students role Read the add

Decoding biology using machine learning and single-cell transcriptomics

Machine learning and single-cell genomics are disruptively changing our ability to understand disease. Be the next to make a scientific breakthrough that can change the world.
Learn more here.

Deep Learning on large-scale healthcare registry data

Recent advances in machine learning methods promise to drasticaly advance the advent of precision medicine. We are looking for motivated Master's and Bachelor's students interested in applying state-of-the art machine learning methods on healthcare data. Your task will be to create data-driven methods for disease prediction, disease subtyping and biomarker discovery.
Learn more here.

High Throughput Genotyping

For these projects you should have a bioinformatical background or a keen interest in programming. You would learn how to use your programming skills on real biological data making an impact on ongoing research in human health.
Learn more here.

Master Thesis in Human Genetic Research

By pooling together genetic data from tens or hundreds of thousands of individuals, these large-scale efforts continue to be successful in identifying novel associations between genetic variants and disease risk or risk traits.

In a Master thesis project, you may participate in an international collaboration by contributing to one or more work stages of such efforts. The work may include, for example, analyses of Danish population samples, data cleaning or quality checking, or carrying out meta-analyses. Contribution to the work of a meta-analysis collaboration often provides a co-authorship in the final paper, published in an international scientific journal.
Interested? Discover more.

The ID3 project

The role of ID3 in obesity development and T2D in humans has never been investigated.

For this project, you should have a basic knowledge in human biology, e.g. be a student in Medicine, Human Biology, Biomedicine etc.

Are you interested in the molecular and genetic pathophysiology and development of disease as well as statistical analyses, explore more.

Investigation of a possible link between blood group antigens and the gut microbiome

The aim of this project is to examine whether different types of blood groups are associated with changes in the gut microbiome at the levels of bacterial gene count, enterotypes, and bacterial taxa.

For this project, you should have a bioinformatical background or a keen interest in learning how to program. Read more here.

Genetic Variation and Glucose Homeostasis

The aim of this project is to understand the role of genetic variation coding for proteins in the aetiology of type 2 diabetes and glucose homeostasis by performed exhaustive analyses of coding variation in thousands of individuals from the general population.
Read more here.

GUMP - Gut Bacteria and Pregnancy

The main objective of the study is to gain novel insights into how the gut bacteria impact pregnancy.

Your Master thesis will describe and analyse the literature regarding impact of gut bacteria on glucose metabolism and immune functions during the normal and the diabetic pregnancy. Explore more on the topic here.

Melatonin receptor 1b in type 2 diabetes

The aim of this project is to contribute to an increased understanding of the aetiology of type 2 diabetes by focusing on rare genetic variation in 7-trans membrane (7TM) receptors of biological relevance for T2D.

For this project, we seek a student with interests in genetics and diabetes. Candidates with a medical, a biological or a bioinformatic background are needed for this project.
Read more here.

3G- Gluten and Satiety

The purpose of the study is to determine how a gluten poor versus a gluten rich dietary intervention (randomized cross-over study) affect markers of satiety. Explore the topic here.

Systems Biology and gut microbiome

Are you a good programmer? Believe it or not, through this project you can get an opportunity to save the world. With your help, we will work on developing statistical and machine learning tools to model the role of bacteria in diseases.
Read about how to apply here.


The Section for Metabolic Receptology is currently looking for students to join the following projects.

Structure and Function of Lactate and Ketone Metabolite Receptors

By introducing mutations into the lactate and ketone metabolite sensors GPR81 and GPR109A, we aim to investigate the molecular mechanism of ligand binding of drug-like small molecule compounds to these receptors. The knowledge gained from these studies will potentially facilitate the design of novel tool compounds to probe the roles of GPR81 and GPR109A in metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes.

In a Master’s Thesis project, you may participate in the design and testing of receptor mutants to understand the structural basis for ligand binding and receptor activation of GPR81 and GPR109A. The project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between in vitro molecular pharmacology and chemical design.

Learn more about the project here.