Professor Ole Petersen CBE MD FRCP FMedSci FLSW MAE ML FRS #

After graduating in Medicine from the University of Copenhagen, Ole Petersen (OP) was appointed Lecturer in Medical Physiology at this institution. His initial research work was focussed on ion transport mechanisms in salivary glands and this was the subject of his MD thesis. Following a sabbatical year in the Pharmacology Department at the University of Cambridge, he started work on the role of Ca2+ signalling in pancreatic acinar cells. After a period as Symers Professor and Head of Physiology at the University of Dundee, OP became George Holt Professor of Physiology and Head of the Physiology Department at the University of Liverpool. During his 17 years as Chairman of Physiology at Liverpool, the Department of Physiology was the one and only consistently top-rated department in this category in successive UK Government Research Assessment Exercises. In 1998, OP was appointed Medical Research Council (MRC) Professor at the University of Liverpool and continued in this position until the end of 2009. At the beginning of 2010, he was appointed Director of Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences for a period of 5 years, as successor to the Nobel Laureate Sir Martin Evans FRS. He continues to work as Professor in the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University in Wales (2015 - ).

In the 1980s, OP's laboratory pioneered patch clamp single channel and whole cell current recordings in epithelial cells identifying and characterizing novel Ca2+-activated ion channels. These results were reported in a series of highly cited Nature papers. One of these articles (Petersen & Maruyama 1984: ‘Calcium-activated potassium channels and their role in secretion’) became an ISI (WoS) Citation Classic.

In the 1990s the intracellular organization of Ca2+ signalling in the polarized pancreatic acinar cells was pursued vigorously in OP’s laboratory leading to 5 highly cited papers in Cell and most importantly to the generally important discovery of intracellular Ca2+ tunnels in the endoplasmic reticulum, identification of the nuclear envelope as a dynamic Ca2+ store and the discovery of local Ca2+ spiking as the crucial regulator of exocytotic secretion.

More recently, OP's laboratory has become increasingly involved in patho-physiological studies. These studies, reported in a series of papers published in PNAS (2000 – 2013), focussed attention on the toxic effects of sustained global elevations of the intracellular Ca2+ concentration and explained the mechanism(s) by which alcohol and bile acids generate such signals leading to the human disease acute pancreatitis. An important discovery from OP’s laboratory (PNAS 2013) indicates that the first rational therapy against pancreatitis is now a realistic aim. Very recently, the work in OP's laboratory has become focussed on the study of the mysterious pancreatic stellate cells, which have been thought to be quiescent in the normal pancreas and were only supposed to become active in chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Three papers from OP and his collaborators, published in The Journal of Physiology (2016;2018), show that these cells can easily be activated in the normal pancreas by even low concentrations of the blood pressure lowering nonapeptide bradykinin and also by certain bile acids and therefore could play an important role in acute pancreatitis. OP and collaborators have also shown an unexpected protective effect of galactose against Acute Pancreatitis ( Journal of Clinical Investigation 2018). A recent major review article in Physiological Reviews (2021) summarizes and discusses the most important findings in the field obtained in the last decade.

Ole Petersen has for many years been involved in national and international assessment and society work. He has served as Vice-President of The Royal Society (2005-2006), President of The UK Physiological Society (2006-2008) and Secretary General of the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) (2001 – 2009). He was Chair of the Biological Sciences Panel for the UK Government's Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF2014), which determines the distribution of general research funding to UK Universities from 2015-2021. OP is currently Vice-President of Academia Europaea (2015-2024) and Academic Director of Academia Europaea's Cardiff University Knowledge Hub (2015 - 2024). He was a member of The MRC’s Physiological Systems and Clinical Sciences Board (2000 -2004) and chaired the European Research Council’s (ERC) Starting Grant Panel for Physiology, Pathophysiology and Endocrinology in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 funding rounds and was Deputy Chair of the ERC Consolidator Grant Panel for Physiology, Pathophysiology and Endocrinology in the 2013 funding round. OP was Senior Reviews Editor for the Journal of Physiology (2016-2019) and served as European Executive Editor of Physiological Reviews (2003 – 2011).

Ole Petersen has received several awards. He was elected Fellow of The Royal Society (FRS) in 2000 and Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in 2010. The first President of Academia Europaea, Sir Arnold Burgen FRS, invited OP to become one of the 100 Foundation Members of AE in 1988 and he was later Vice-President of the Academy (2015-2023). OP is also a Foreign Member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences & Letters and an Honorary Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He received the 1994 Jacobaeus Prize from the NOVO NORDISK Foundation. In 2003, he was presented with the J.E. Purkyně Honorary Medal for ‘Merit in the Biological Sciences’ from The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. In 2008, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for ‘Services to Science’ by Queen Elizabeth II. In 2013, he was awarded the American Physiological Society’s Horace W Davenport Distinguished Lectureship and gave the Award Lecture at Experimental Biology (EB) 2013 in Boston, USA (EB is the largest annual biology conference in the world, with regular attendance of more than 14000 participants). In 2015, he was elected Honorary Member of The Physiological Society (UK & Ireland) and in 2017 Honorary Member of the German Society for Gastroenterology, Digestive and Metabolic Diseases. The American Physiological Society elected Ole Petersen to become the 2018 Walter B Cannon Memorial Award Lecturer (the Society's most prestigious award) and he delivered the Plenary Award Lecture at Experimental Biology (EB) in San Diego, USA on 22nd April 2018. He gave the first 'Sir Michael Berridge Memorial Lecture at the FASEB conference on 'Calcium and Cell Function' in 2021 (virtual). In 2021, he received Academia Europaea's Gold Medal and delivered the Gold Medal Award Lecture at the Academy's Annual Meeting in Barcelona, 20th October 2021. He was awarded the International Association of Pancreatology's (IAP) 2022 Palade Prize and Medal and delivered the Award Lecture at the Joint IAP - JPS (Japanese Pancreatic Society) Conference held in Kyoto, Japan, 7 - 9 July 2022.

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