03 February 2012
Distinguished research prize awarded for a new approach in medical contrasting dyes
Diagnoses would come easier if doctors could simply peer into sick cells. Over the past years, chemist Thomas Just Sørensen has been working to develop new dying compounds that can make it easier for doctors to judge which cells are sick and why they aren't doing well.
His research has earned him the Lundbeck Foundation's Talent Prize for young researchers. The prize carries a 100,000 kroner award.
Thomas Just Sørensen is 30-years-old and has divided his time as a postdoc at Keble College, Oxford University and the University of Copenhagen's Department of Chemistry. Here, he has worked to produce new chemical compounds that can absorb light and emit fluorescence. These substances can bond to biological substances and be traced. Thus, the chemical compounds serve as contrasting agents when we scan brains, cells or the lungs.
But the luminescent substances can do more than act as biological markers.
"There is enormous potential for the application of fluorescence in biology, nanotechnology and in materials science in general. By designing and producing new fluorescent compounds and making use of new technologies such as "plasmonics", it's possible to create new, incredibly fast computers and ultra-sensitive molecular detectors," explains Thomas Just Sørensen.
Sørensen has already published 15 scientific articles. Therefore, the Lundbeck Foundation expects that he can lead Denmark to the global forefront within the disciplines of photophysics and fluorescent dyes.
Thomas Just Sørensen has more besides his own career on his mind. He is also busy at helping to develop new talent. At the Nano-Science Center at the University of Copenhagen he has introduced unique teaching methods that have helped him realise research-based instruction which gives students to work on an authentic research project at the beginning of their first year of studies. It's an introduction that future chemists and nano-researchers appreciate.
With its awarding of the Talent prize to Sørensen, the Lundbeck Foundation hopes to groom and maintain the research efforts of this unique Danish research talent.