Recruited fellows to Novo Nordisk Fellowship Programme at Karolinska Institutet

David Rizo Roca

Dr David Rizo Roca

I studied biology at the University of Barcelona and conducted my PhD studies in its Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology department. My research aimed at elucidating the effects of intermittent hypobaric hypoxia and aerobic exercise on the recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage in trained rats. Specifically, I analyzed the time-course of myofiber histomorphological and metabolic alterations. Moreover, I conducted a pre-doctoral and a post-doctoral research stay at the University of Porto, where I delved into the use of physical exercise as a non-pharmacological tool to counteract mitochondrial dysfunction associated to drug therapies, high-fat diets and Alzheimer’s disease.

In October 2019, I started my Novo Nordisk Postdoctoral Fellowship under the supervision of Professor Juleen Zierath and Professor Anna Krook at the Integrative Physiology group of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. Our aim is to unravel the complex regulation of the communication between liver, skeletal muscle and adipose tissue and to understand how these processes are perturbed in Type 2 diabetes. To address that, we will identify novel factors secreted by liver, skeletal muscle and adipose tissue from Type 2 diabetes patients. Subsequently, we will determine whether these candidate factors mediate in the crosstalk between the abovementioned tissues and their impact on whole-body metabolism and insulin sensitivity in Type 2 diabetes by using both in vitro and in vivo models.

Project title: Metabolic crosstalk and the regulation of insulin sensitivity in Type 2 diabetes.

Osman Ahmed

Dr Osman Ahmed

I graduated from Medical School at University of Khartoum - Sudan conferring the degrees of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS). After graduation, I was employed as a teaching assistant at the Department of Biochemistry. I completed my internship and started my clinical career by working at specialized diabetic center. During this time, I was also conferred a master´s degree (MSc) in Medical Biochemistry. I obtained my PhD at Karolinska Institutet in May 2019, focused on the role of cholesterol metabolism in hepatic steatosis and glucose tolerance.

In November 2019, I started my Novo Nordisk fellowship at Karolinska Institutet in a project led by Assoc. Prof Peder Olofsson and Ass. Prof Stephen Malin at Department of Medicine. In our project we will investigate the lipid-loading effects on individual cells, how this can lead to pro and anti-inflammatory responses in the liver and how the cell types of the liver respond to the onset of NAFLD. Moreover, we will study how neural signals in the inflammatory reflex could regulate inflammation in NAFLD and whether acetylcholine-producing T cells (TChAT) are involved in NAFLD pathogenesis.

Project title: Neural control of inflammation and metabolism in liver disease

Alison Ludzki

Dr Alison Ludzki

My undergraduate and Master's research focused on the effects of exercise training on muscle mitochondrial function and whole body insulin sensitivity. After this, I completed a PhD at the University of Michigan studying the effects of diet and exercise on factors regulating adipose remodeling. My training has focused broadly on applied human metabolism.

I joined the Lipid Laboratory in January, 2020, to explore the role of adipose tissue biology in the development of cardiovascular disease. My projects are investigating the molecular regulation of fat cell structure and function in the context of obesity and insulin resistance. This will provide novel understanding of mechanisms to reduce insulin resistance and metabolic disease in obesity.

Project title: Identifying the role of human white adipose tissue for the development of cardiovascular complications in type 2 diabetes. 

Dr Ilke Sen

I studied Molecular Biology and Genetics at Bilkent University, Turkey. Then, I continued my master studies at Middle East Technical University, Turkey, where I focused on the research of the metabolic diseases and characterized the structure, function and composition of the subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissues of the novel inbred obese mouse lines that develop spontaneous obesity. I completed my PhD studies at the European Research Institute of the Biology of Ageing, University of Groningen, The Netherlands in October 2018. My PhD revolved around understanding the molecular mechanisms of aging regulation. I have focused on the insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 signaling pathway and the regulation of the expression of aging-preventive genes through a conserved transcription factor DAF-16/FOXO. I have investigated the role of novel co-factors of DAF-16/FOXO on how they modulate its longevity-promoting functions. I continued my research as a postdoc at the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institute since then.

In September 2020, I started my Novo Nordisk Fellowship project in the laboratory of Prof. Anna Krook and Prof. Juleen Zierath from Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. It has been shown that lncRNAs are important for the regulation of chromatin structure and transcription and some of them have already been implicated in the regulation of liver and adipose tissue metabolism, as well as function of the pancreatic islet. However, little is known whether lncRNAs are directly influencing skeletal muscle metabolism. The aim of this project is to identify and validate key lncRNAs that may play crucial role in controlling skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity and to understand their physiological relevance in Type 2 diabetes.

Project title: lncRNAs regulating skeletal muscle metabolism

Aida Collado Sánchez

Dr Aida Collado Sánchez

I studied Biotechnology at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain. Then I pursued a MSc degree and, finally, a Ph.D. in Biomedicine and Pharmacy at the University of Valencia. During my doctoral thesis, I focused on the systemic inflammation associated with different cardiometabolic pathologies and studied, both ex vivo and in vitro, the molecular and cellular mechanisms of several cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, primary hypercholesterolemia, metabolic syndrome, and abdominal aortic aneurysm. I continued my research as a postdoc at the Health Research Institute Hospital La Fe, Valencia, Spain.

In November 2020, I started my Novo Nordisk Fellowship project at Karolinska Institutet in a project led by Prof John Pernow, Prof Per Eriksson, and Assoc. Prof Zhichao Zhou from the Department of Medicine. Our group studies the role of endothelial and red blood cell dysfunction in different cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. The project is focused on the study of red blood cells (RBCs) as novel mediators of vascular endothelial injury in the context of type 2 diabetes. The aim of this project is to identify the molecular signalling mechanism by which RBCs induce endothelial dysfunction in type 2 diabetes.

Project title: The red blood cell as a novel mediator of vascular endothelial injury in type 2 diabetes.

Scott Frendo-Cumbo

Dr Scott Frendo-Cumbo

My previous research centred on cellular insulin signaling and the development of insulin resistance. Following graduation from Brock University with a Bachelor in Kinesiology, I completed my MSc at the University of Guelph. My MSc research focused on the use of resveratrol, a nutraceutical, as an adjunct therapy with metformin in the treatment of insulin resistance. In 2021, I completed my PhD in Cell Biology at the University of Toronto. My PhD research centred on identifying novel regulators of insulin signaling and examining cellular conditions of insulin resistance, including lipotoxicity and deficient autophagy. I identified interactors of insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS1), a scaffold protein essential for insulin signaling, and further elucidated the role of select interactors in the regulation of cell metabolism and proliferation.

In April 2021 I began my Novo Nordisk fellowship in the lipid laboratory at Karolinska Institutet, under the supervision of Mikael Ryden and Niklas Mejhert. My work broadly focuses on examining human adipose tissue biology and how pathological cellular conditions promote whole-body insulin resistance. This hinges on analysis of metabolomic, phosphoproteomic and transcriptomic datasets of adipose tissue from clinical cohorts and identifying alterations associated with obesity and insulin resistance. The contribution of select metabolites and transcriptome changes to the development of insulin resistance will be explored in vitro, using gain and loss of function studies in adipocyte cell culture. Using this cellular system, we are also initiating studies to examine the lipid droplet proteome and extracellular matrix proteins to improve our understanding of adipocyte biology and the potential for these compartments to contribute to adipocyte pathological conditions.

Project title: Identifying mechanisms linking adipocyte-derived metabolites to inflammation and metabolic disorders.

Alumni Fellows

Dr Pauline Vercruysse

Postdoc Fellow: 2016-2017 

PI: Christina Bark


Dr Ester Bachar-Wikström

Postdoc Fellow: 2016-2018

PI: Olov Andersson


Dr Soile Tuomela

Postdoc Fellow: 2016-2018

PI: Malin Flodström-Tullberg


Dr Lars Ketscher

Postdoc Fellow: 2016-2018

PI: Jorge Ruas


Dr Montserrat Visa

Postdoc Fellow: 2016-2019

PI: Per-Olof Berggren


Dr Nicole Schmitner

Postdoc Fellow: 2016-2019

PI: Olov Andersson


Dr Lucile Dollet

Postdoc Fellow: 2016-2019

PIs: Anna Krook and Juleen Zierath


Dr Isabel Cordero Herrera

Postdoc Fellow: 2016-2019

PI: Mattias Carlström


Dr Alastair Kerr

Postdoc Fellow: 2016-2019

PI: Ingrid Dahlman


Dr Lars Paeger

Postdoc Fellow: 2019-2020

PI: Christian Broberger


Dr Sanna Hellberg

Postdoc Fellow: 2017-2020

PIs: Stephen Malin and Göran Hansson


Dr Noah Moruzzi

Postdoc Fellow: 2017-2020

PI: Ingo Leibiger


Dr Daniel Svensson

Postdoc Fellow: 2018-2021

PIs: Hjalmar Brismar and Anita Aperia


Dr Kelvin Kwok

Postdoc Fellow: 2017-2021

PIs: Carsten Daub, Mikael Rydén and Peter Arner


Dr Katharina Herzog

Postdoc Fellow: 2019-2021

PI: Sofia Carlsson


Dr Vladimir Shavva

Postdoc Fellow: 2018-2021

PI: Peder Olofsson


Dr Thomas Ebert

Postdoc Fellow: 2019-2021

PIs: Peter Stenvinkel and Annika Wernerson


Dr Prasad Kamble

Postdoc Fellow: 2021-2022

PI: Juleen Zierath

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