NeuroPharm - Center for Experimental Medicine Neuropharmacology


The Center for Experimental Medicine Neuropharmacology (NeuroPharm) is a new research center under Rigshospitalet and University of Copenhagen. It is funded by the Innovation Fund Denmark (grant number 4108-00004B) and inaugurated on Jan 1st, 2015.

Neurobiology Research Unit (NRU) at Rigshospitalet is the coordinating partner in the Center and other partners in NeuroPharm include four additional Danish academic partners, one from the University of Copenhagen and three from university hospitals in the Capital Region of Denmark. International partners include Massachusetts General Hos­pital/Harvard, Imperial College London and a British-based small-medium sized enterprise, Imanova. NeuroPharm also have several affiliated partners from the drug industry.


Brain disorders constitute the largest socioeconomic burden in Western societies and ac­cord­ing­­ly, identification of brain disease mechanisms and prediction of treatment outcome is of paramount socio-economic importance. Experimental and translational medicine models are required to identify basic disease mechanisms and to facilitate novel intervention strategies and to prevent or cure brain disorders. This is essential to bridge the gap between animal and human studies and to help mitigate and manage the risk of novel treatments, be it pharmacological or non-pharmacological strategies.

NeuroPharm Research

The aim of the new research center, NeuroPharm, is to develop and validate new human experimental medicine models in brain disorders in order to identify ways to safely assess novel treatments and intervention outcomes in humans. This will be done by studying brain neurobiology and the brain’s response to neuropharmacological interventions.

The specific scientific objectives of NeuroPharm are to

By means of positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance (MR) brain scanning we will image brain receptors, receptor occupancy, and the brains regional interactions, i.e., functional connectivity. The ability to simultaneously measure drug occupancy and brain reactivity directly in humans provides a completely novel approach to assess interventional effects. We will employ these brain imaging tools in patients with, e.g., depression and migraine. We will make use of existing data and biological samples to be analysed in the context of a multivariate data analysis framework. Generation of predictive statistical models will allow for a more informed use of data acquired within the Center and will provide a foundation for better study designs. Through this research, we expect to answer pertinent and basic questions regarding human brain disease mechanisms and predict brain responses to categories of neuromodulatory interventions as well as treatment efficacy.

The diagram to the right summarizes the overall framework of NeuroPharm, in the context of drug assessments where the main goal is to identify target involvement. Based on data outcome from the various methods available within the Center, e.g., brain imaging techniques we will gain novel insight into the specific patterns characteristic for individual brain-targeting drugs (Drug signatures). The same endophenotype data can also critically aid to stratify patients and categorize disease subtypes (Disease classifiers) which will enhance prediction of treatment efficacy (Clinical drug effects). Conversely, individuals’ clinical outcome after drug intervention can itself be part of the drug signature and can help inform the disease classification.

The vision of NeuroPharm is to establish itself as an internationally leading hub for experimental medicine in brain disorders.


The members of NeuroPharm's steering group are:

·         Center Director: Prof. Gitte Moos Knudsen, Neurobiology Research Unit, Rigshospitalet and University of Copenhagen. Prof. Knudsen is a translational neurobiologist and clinical neurologist and is internationally renowned for her seminal contributions to the basic, preclinical and clinical investigations of neurobiological mechanisms underlying brain disorders such as affective and neurodegenerative disorders. She has extensive scientific leadership experience from 10 years of independent research leadership at the Neuroscience Center at Rigshospitalet, and as a professor of Clinical Neurobiology at the University of Copenhagen.

·         Prof. Bruce Rosen, Director of the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA. Prof. Rosen is a highly recognized MR-scientist and a world-leading expert in functional neuroimaging. He is Professor of Radiology at the Harvard Medical School and Professor of Health Science and Technology at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

·         Prof. David Nutt, Imperial College London, UK. Prof. Nutt is a clinical psychiatrist and neuropharmacologist. He is currently the Edmond J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit in the Division of Brain Sciences at Imperial College London.

·         Associate Prof. Esben Budtz-Jørgensen, Department of Biostatistics, University of Copenhagen. Dr. Budtz-Jørgensen is a biostatistician with a considerable experience in statistical analysis of complex multivariate data. One of his main research topics has been how to use structural equation models in the field of environmental epidemiology, and he has also done research on methods for model selection and modelling of genetic and imaging data.

·         Prof. Jens D. Mikkelsen, Neurobiology Research Unit, Rigshospitalet and University of Copenhagen. Prof. Mikkelsen is a translational neuropharmacologist with more than 10 years of experience from drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry.

·         Eugenii (Ilan) Rabiner, Imanova Inc., London, UK. Dr. Rabiner is Head of Imaging Applications and CMO of Imanova Inc., which is a private British-based company that specialises in cutting edge imaging support for Pharma and academia. Dr. Rabiner is a psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist with almost 20 years experience in the development of novel molecular imaging methods and their application to experimental medicine and novel drug development.

·          Birgitte Søgaard, H. Lundbeck A/S, Valby, DK. Dr. Søgaard is Divisional Director for Clinical and Quantitative Pharmacology and Head of department in Clinical Pharmacology including Clinical Pharmacology Operations at H. Lundbeck A/S. She has worked with clinical pharmacology for 25 years with focus on the establishment of biological models to be able to quantify and describe biological responses to support drug development.

·         Prof. Sven Frøkjær, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. Prof. Frøkjær is a drug formulation scientist with significant experience from both academia and the pharmaceutical industry.



·         Center Manager: Peter Steen Jensen, Neurobiology Research Unit, Rigshospitalet.


The main task of the NeuroPharm Steering Group is to assist and provide consultancy to the Center Director, for example in relation to major changes in the projects, meeting arrangements, and involvement of external experts.

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