Evaluations of AKC summer scholarships

Evaluations 2015

Jonas Roland Knudsen

Master student, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen.

Subcellular dynamics of mTORC1 and AMPK signaling in muscle.

During my Master's Project I developed and characterized a method to isolate individual live muscle fibers from Extensor Digitorum Longus (EDL) muscles from mice at the section for Molecular Physiology (NEXS). In addition, I completed a three months research stay at National Institute of Health (NIH), United States, were I learned to perform electroporations and isolate individual muscle fibers from Flexor Digitorum Brevis (FDB) muscle. During my stay, I obtained data regarding the dynamics of beta actin in the muscle fibers, which called for further examination. Thanks to the August Krogh Summer Scholarship I got the opportunity to return to NIH to perform some additional experiments. This led to new findings regarding the dynamics of the beta actin cytoskeleton in muscle fibers and my results are now going to be included in a paper dealing with the role of beta actin cytoskeleton in insulin stimulated glucose transport in mature mouse muscle.

In addition this Summer Scholarship gave me the opportunity to establish the electroporation method at the section for Molecular Physiology and test some novel FRET biosensors with the aim to investigate the subcellular dynamics of mTORC1 and AMPK signaling.

Alongside my projects, I have applied for PhD funding together with my supervisor Thomas Jensen. The financial needs were fulfilled in late 2015 and the August Krogh Summer scholarship has therefore likely contributed to give me the opportunity to continue to do research every day, and for that I am deeply grateful.

Evaluations 2014

Jens Frey Halling

Graduate student, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen.

Role of PGC-1α in exercise training-induced regulation of mitochondrial structure and mitophagy.

During my Master's thesis it became increasingly obvious to me that although the field of exercise physiology was started by August Krogh and others more than 100 years ago it still contains many exciting and largely undiscovered areas which motivated me to pursue a career within academic physiology research.

The results obtained during my Master's thesis revealed that in addition to inducing mitochondrial biogenesis, endurance exercise training stimulates recently discovered mitochondrial quality control pathways including mitochondrial fission/fusion and mitophagy in mouse skeletal muscle. Furthermore, the results suggested a role of the known regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis, PGC-1α, in coordinately regulating several mitochondrial quality control pathways.

Receiving the August Krogh Centre scholarship allowed me to continue working on a project related to and directly following my Master's thesis with the aim of investigating the role of PGC-1α in exercise training-induced regulation of mitochondrial network structure. I got the opportunity to learn confocal microscopy imaging techniques to assess mitochondrial network structure in isolated single muscle fibers from leading experts which will undoubtedly be of great importance for the present and future projects.

Although the project described in the application included microscopy analyses on muscle samples from young untrained/trained mice with muscle-specific overexpression of PGC-1α, fascinating results from a concurrent study in our lab suggested that aging is associated with changes in mitochondrial structure with possible detrimental effects on muscle function. Therefore, the mitochondrial microscopy analyses supported by the August Krogh Centre were performed on samples from a study on aged PGC-1α knockout mice and their littermate wild-types with or without lifelong access to running wheels. Briefly, the results obtained in the project indicated that exercise training protects against aging-induced mitochondrial fragmentation in a PGC-1α dependent manner.

Preliminary results were presented at the Cell Symposia - Exercise Metabolism conference in Amsterdam (July 2015) and the final analyses on the possible molecular mechanisms behind our observations are ongoing with the aim of submitting a paper within the coming months. Furthermore, receiving the August Krogh Centre scholarship was likely a contributing factor in receiving funding for a PhD project which I have recently started.

Mads Bau Hansen

Graduate student, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen.

Changes in insulin sensitivity during glycogen super compensation in human skeletal muscle.

During my master thesis I was a part of a study investigating the mechanism behind glycogen super compensation in human skeletal muscle. In this study we investigated the regulation of whole-body insulin sensitivity with different concentrations of glycogen in prior exercised muscle using the hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp.

We also analyzed muscle tissue to understand the regulation of GS-expression and activity during a five-day glycogen recovery following a glycogen depleting exercise bout using one-legged exercise. The study led to a deeper understanding of the interplay and regulation of GS and AMPK in glycogen resynthesis and insulin sensitivity.

The August Krogh Center Scholarship made it possible for me to continue working on the project and analyze muscle samples in the laboratory. Through this work I adapted laboratory skills and a deeper understanding of the scientific working methods used in physiologic research.

Thomas Lunde Hygum

Bachelor, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen.

Desiccation and chemical stress tolerance in tardigrades.

With the August Krogh Centre scholarship I gained the opportunity to continue work, commenced during my bachelor project, on desiccation tolerance in the marine tidal heterotardigrade Echiniscoides sigismundi, and to further expand my studies to also involve effects of environmental toxins in tardigrade species representing different evolutionary lineages and environmental adaptations.

During my bachelor, I produced data on desiccation tolerance in Echiniscoides sigismundi, which indicated that this tardigrade tolerates dehydration from sea water as well as purified water. With the August Krogh Centre scholarship, I was able to complete my data-set and we have now submitted a paper, on which I am first author, suggesting that formation of the so-called “tun” originally was a response to elevated osmotic pressure. I presented this data at the 13th international symposium on Tardigrada (Modena, Italy) in June 2015.

The scholarship has furthermore given me the opportunity to familiarize myself with the field of ecotoxicology and to meet and collaborate with scientists from other fields and Universities. The process of working with scientific data, making sure that it is good enough to be published, and working with it statistically and graphically has given me valuable experience, and in the end writing an academic paper has taught me a great lesson for the future. I was recently enrolled as a PhD student.

Matilde Ea Madsen

Bachelor, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen.

Role of glycogen for substrate utilization at rest.

Thanks to the AKC summer scholarship I got the opportunity to continue on the project investigating the molecular mechanism involved in glycogen supercompensation after glycogen emptying through acute exercise. Further the insulin sensitivity during the glycogen depleted, basal and supercompensated state was investigated. The project is still in progress, but has until now shown an upregulation of glycogen synthase activity and AMPK while supercompensating.

During my bachelor I did not have time to participate in the testing of all the subjects, but the AKI scholarship made this possible and to do some laboratory analysis of the samples as well. In the laboratory I became familiar with Western Blotting in particular through analysis of the muscle biopsies collected. In addition I got a bigger insight in experimental methods, processing samples and in laboratory work and researching in general. It was interesting to get the opportunity to investigate connections between the data and thereby getting a deeper insight into the topic, which was not possible during my limited participation while doing my bachelor.

By becoming more skilled in the experimental methods and laboratory work it has given me a great advantage on my master in Human Physiology. Furthermore it has improved my CV and encouraged me to continue researching.

Evaluations 2013

Lisbeth Liliendal Valbjørn Møller

Graduate student, Dept. of Nutrition, Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

The involvement of GTPase Rac1 in passive stretch-induced glucose uptake in mouse muscle.

Being awarded the AKC scholarship gave me the opportunity to continue on the research project investigating the signaling pathway involved in stretch-induced glucose uptake in mice skeletal muscle.

During my bachelor’s thesis it was discovered that the GTPase Rac1 partly regulates stretch-induced glucose uptake. However, further research was needed to elucidate the downstream signaling of Rac1. Thanks to the AKC Scholarship, I spent the summer holiday continuing the work on this project before starting on my master’s studies. The research project will eventually lead to a publication where I will be a co-author.

In that way, the award allowed me to become more skilled in the experimental methods and the laboratory work, as well as I became acquainted with new techniques during these months in the lab. Thereby this award has given me the best position to perform a fairly independent master’s thesis but has also encouraged me to continue within research when I graduate.

Lykke Keldsted Bøgsted Clausen

Graduate student, Dept. of Biology, University of Copenhagen.

Nanoliter osmometry in tardigrades.

The AKC scholarship gave me the possibility to perform experimental tests on the tardigrade Echiniscoides sigismundi’ ability to osmoregulate when exposed to different levels of osmotic stress. However the method that could elucidate this mechanism showed to require more refinements to achieve reliable data when working with E. sigismundi.

Instead I continued my research focusing on body volume regulation in response to osmotic stress in E. sigismundi, an interesting topic I had been working on in my bachelor thesis. From this we could acquire knowledge about the body volume adjustment (indication of osmoregulative abilities) together with survival rate in a gradient of different salinities. The results obtained from the experiments were very intriguing and are expected to be submitted in a paper concerning osmobiosis in E. sigismundi later this year.

In addition the AKC Scholarship gave me the opportunity to continue another exiting topic from my bachelor thesis about inducing cyst formation in E. sigismundi. Cyst formation in response to stress exposure has never been shown in this species; however, our new data suggests this type of stress response to be a far more frequent event.  The data has now been written into a manuscript and submitted and I am the first author.

From this research I have learned new techniques e.g. the handling of metazoan microorganisms. I was trained in "out of the box-thinking" when meeting new challenges in the experimental work and I learned about the procedure of writing an article. All together this has improved my laboratory skills, my CV and given me great motivation for pursuing a career in the field of research.

Dorte Enggaard Kristensen

Graduate student, Dept. of Nutrition, Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

AMPK activation in single human muscle fibers during acute exercise.

Thanks to the August Krogh Center Scholarship I got the opportunity to continue on the research project investigating AMPK expression and regulation in different human skeletal muscle fibers in response to acute exercise.When working with single fibers and in this case pools of type I and type II fibers, limited amount of sample is obtained through many hours of preparation. During my master thesis, I therefore only had the time to do some of the laboratory analyses. The AKC scholarship made it possible to do further analyses and all data are currently included into a scientific paper in which I am granted a shared first authorship.

Besides the scientific advantages, the AKC scholarship also provided me with some time to fully consider and convince myself that I wanted to continue working with research – and the next step for me is therefore to apply for enrolment as a PhD student.

Evaluations 2012

Casper Skovgaard Andersen

Graduate degree student, Dept. of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

Adaptation to a bout of high-intensity sprint training and strength training in combination - the influence of the sequence.

Before being awarded the AKC scholarship I was very motivated to continue researching in the area of high intensity training. Now, having received the scholarship and working as a scientific research assistant the scholarship pays a great share of my salary. Hence, being awarded the scholarship gave me the chance to discover whether I was just motivated to continue researching or if I actually enjoyed working at the university. As foreseen, I do enjoy it and therefore the most significant contribution from the scholarship relates to me being fully convinced of this.

That said, the job is not yet completed. Being halfway done with the scholarship-project, I expect at least one article being based on the results obtained. It will provide a novel expansion of our knowledge of the acute physiological impact of repeated speed endurance training. So besides the enlightening effect on my own life and choice of career, the scholarship will have a very positive impact on the latter.

Personally, a PhD degree is the next aim. Thus, I would recommend anyone having the slightest interest in continued research to apply for this scholarship. For me, at least, it made a clarifying difference in terms of whether or not to choose an academic career.

Kasper Andersen

Graduate degree student, Dept. of Biology, University of Copenhagen.

Stress tolerance in the tardigrade Echiniscoides sigismundi: Do true cryptobionts osmoregulate?

The August Krogh Scholarship allowed me to focus on data collection and data analysis and it gave me a taste of what the job as a researcher involves.

From laboratory experiments we now have quantitative data regarding the ability of the tardigrade Echiniscoides sigismundi to survive different environmental extremes. Its ability to osmoregulate in order to survive extreme salinities has now been tested for the first time and has given us interesting results.

We have acquired great knowledge of its ability to survive extreme freezing temperatures and our data show that it can readily survive even unnatural extremes, such as liquid nitrogen (-196°C).

Furthermore we performed a series of experiments regarding the ability of Echiniscoides sigismundi to enter a so-called tun state in order to survive different environmental extremes. Much of the collected data is expected to be published in 1-2 publications that will be submitted this year.

The AKC scholarship gave me an opportunity to learn new skills while producing a unique data set, i.e. the handling of micrometazoans as well as the microscopy techniques necessary to measure volume changes of these small animals following changes in external salinity.

I regard the scholarship as a great opportunity for a good career start. It followed immediately after I obtained my master degree and gave me the possibly to strengthen my CV through additional skills and publications.

Rasmus Kjøbsted

Graduate degree student, Dept. of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

Elucidating mechanisms for exercise induced muscle insulin sensitivity – role of AMPK.

Due to the AKC scholarship award I got the opportunity to continue research on muscle insulin sensitivity after handing in my master thesis.

During my time as a master student I found that the protein AMPK was sufficient to increase insulin sensitivity to stimulate glucose uptake in skeletal muscle. However, previously work had demonstrated that other proteins also might be involved.

The award made it possible for me to collect and process muscle specimens from human subjects, which were analyzed using phospho-proteomics by newly established collaborators at SDU, thereby revealing possible proteins involved in increasing muscle insulin sensitivity post exercise.

All together, this will eventually end in a publication in which I am granted a shared first authorship and later it will become a part of my PhD thesis.