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Large grant takes gene researcher to Stanford University

PhD student Rasmus O. Bak from Aarhus University has just received a DKK 2,468,080 grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research. The grant will be used for a three-year research project at Stanford University, California focusing on finding a cure for HIV.

2013.11.05 | Anders Corydon Frederiksen

Grant recipient Rasmus O. Bak, Aarhus University, Department of Biomedicine.

Grant recipient Rasmus O. Bak, Aarhus University, Department of Biomedicine.

Rasmus O. Bak, who specialises in gene therapy, recently received a DKK 2,468,080 grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research to further his career as a researcher. The grant was awarded for a three-year research project at Stanford University in San Francisco, California (USA) and one of the specific aims of the project is to introduce a genetic modification of immune cells to make them resistant to HIV.

“Our tool kit of gene therapy methods is so advanced by now that in addition to repairing a defective gene we can also turn up or down the gene’s expression and introduce genetic modifications which lead to cells with new properties. Therefore, gene therapy has great potential within a large number of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and HIV,” says Rasmus O. Bak.

Despite 30 years of intensive research into HIV, we still don’t have a cure for this virus or for AIDS; the condition it can develop into and which has caused the death of about 35 million people worldwide. Rasmus O. Bak aims to change that.

“On the basis of my previous research, which I conducted in Associate Professor Giehm Mikkelsen’s laboratory at Aarhus University, this research project will add a mutation to stem cells which creates resistance. I expect that the project will contribute new knowledge about HIV, and that it will be a decisive step towards finding a genetic cure for HIV,” the grant recipient explains.

Great opportunity to establish international network

Rasmus O. Bak will be working at one of the world’s best universities alongside leading researchers such as MD Matthew Porteus, an acclaimed pioneer of gene therapy.

“It’s a huge privilege to get the opportunity to work at one of the world’s leading universities as part of a world-class research community. I hope I’ll be able to build a strong network of international research partners.  Also, Stanford University has unique research facilities which will give me the opportunity to acquire competencies within the latest methods and techniques,” says Rasmus O. Bak.

The research project will run from 1 August 2014 and Rasmus O. Bak expects to move to the US with his family by mid July 2014. The project’s title is: Pre-clinical testing of immune cells engineered with multi-layered genetic resistance to HIV.

Rasmus O. Bak was born on 6 November 1982 in the town of Farsø, Denmark.

Further information

PhD student, MSc Rasmus Otkjær Bak
Aarhus University, Department of Biomedicine
Direct tel: +45 8716 7012
Mobile: +45 2654 2378

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