Skip to main content
Professor Ole Petersen CBE FRS

Professor Ole Petersen


Director of the Cardiff University - Academia Europaea Knowledge Hub

School of Biosciences

+44 (0)29 2068 8249
Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX


Director of a research programme investigating the role of Ca2+ in the pathophysiology of pancreatitis. I am also Academic Director of the Cardiff University – Academia Europaea Knowledge Hub’s SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) Project, supported by a grant from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Programme (1 October 2016 - 31December 2021). Finally, I am Editor-in-Chief of the American Physiological Society's new Open Access journal Function, published in partnership with Oxford University Press (



Medical student, University of Copenhagen 1961 – 1969

Cand. Med. (Laudabilis) (MB ChB) University of Copenhagen, 1969

Authorized Medical Practitioner (Danish State Health Authority) 1969

Dr. med. (MD) University of Copenhagen, 1972, for thesis “Acetylcholine-induced ion transports involved in the formation of saliva” (Thesis published as Supplement 381 in Acta physiol scand [now Acta Physiologica] 1972)

Posts held

Lecturer, Institute of Medical Physiology, University of Copenhagen, 1969-73

Wellcome-Carlsberg Travelling Research Fellow, Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge, UK, 1971-72 (on leave of absence from University of Copenhagen)

Senior Lecturer, Institute of Medical Physiology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 1973-78

Symers Professor of Physiology and Head of the Department of Physiology, University of Dundee, Scotland, 1975-81 (on leave of absence from University of Copenhagen 1975-78).

Head of the Department of Physiology, University of Liverpool, 1981-1998

George Holt Professor of Physiology, University of Liverpool, England, 1981- 2009

Director (Head) of Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences, 2010 - 2015

Professor at Cardiff School of Biosciences, 2010 –

Elections to Fellow or Member of Academies (Societies) of Science or Medicine

Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). Elected 2000. Vice-President 2005-2006.

Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (ML). Elected 2010.

Honorary Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Elected 2004.

Member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. Elected 1988.

Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci). Founding Member 1998.

Member of Academia Europaea (MAE). Founding Member 1988. Vice-President 2015 -

Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales (FLSW). Elected 2011. Vice-President 2014 - 2018.

Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP). Elected 2001.

Honorary Member of the German Society for Gastroenterology, Digestive and Metabolic Diseases. Elected 2017.

Honorary Member of The Physiological Society. Elected 2015. President 2006 - 2008.

Honorary Member of the Hungarian Physiological Society. Elected 2002.

Honorary Member of the Polish Physiological Society. Elected 1993.

National Honour

Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for 'Services to Science'. Award received personally from Queen Elizabeth II, at Buckingham Palace, 7th May 2008.

Awards and Keynote Lectures (Selection)

Academia Europaea's 2020 Gold Medal Award. Gold Medal Lecture to be delivered at the Academy's 32nd Annual Conference in Barcelona, October 2021.

Honorary Professor at Jinan University, Guangzhou, China. A series of 4 lectures delivered in Guangzhou in March 2019.

The American Physiological Society's 2018 Walter B Cannon Award. Plenary Award Lecture delivered at Experimental Biology (EB), San Diego Convention Center, California, 22nd April 2018.

Opening Plenary Lecture at the 2013 Annual Congress of the Brazilian Society of Physiology. Rebeirao Preto, Sao Paulo, 7th September 2013

The American Physiological Society's Horace W Davenport Distinguished Lecture. Experimental Biology (EB), Boston, Massachusetts, 23rd April 2013.

The 2012 Leopoldina Lecture. Delivered at the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Halle on 23rd May 2012.

Lifetime Achievement Award. European Pancreatic Club (EPC). Award lecture delivered at the EPC's Annual Meeting, Stockholm, 17th June 2010.

Plenary Keynote Lecture at Annual Meeting of the Korean Physiological Society, Gagneung, South Korea, 30th October 2009.

Opening Plenary Lecture at Beijing Joint Conference of Physiological Sciences 2008. Beijing 20th October 2008.

The Plenary Keynote Lecture at 82nd Annual Conference of the Physiological Society of Japan, Sendai, May 2005.

Purkyne Honorary Medal for 'Merit in the Biological Sciences' from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. 2003.

The Keynote Lecture at Gordon Research Conference in Calcium Signaling, South Hadley, Massachusetts, July 2003.























Main Research Achievements

I pioneered, with Yoshio Maruyama, patch clamp single channel and whole-cell current recordings in epithelial cells. We discovered hormone-evoked, messenger-mediated ion channel activation (Maruyama & Petersen Nature 1982a,b), voltage-activation of epithelial ion channels (Maruyama et al Nature 1983a,b) and integrated these data into the first model of how ion channels control exocrine fluid secretion (Petersen & Maruyama Nature 1984 [ISI [WoS] Citation Classic]; Petersen J Physiol 1992). I discovered sub-cellular Ca2+ spiking in epithelial cells (Wakui et al Nature 1989, Cell 1990; Thorn et al Cell 1993), messenger-mediated Ca2+ release from the nuclear envelope (Gerasimenko et al Cell 1995) as well as the secretory granules (Gerasimenko et al Cell 1996) and intracellular Ca2+ tunnels (Mogami et al Cell 1997). Together with Oleg and Julia Gerasimenko, we demonstrated the crucial role of Ca2+ release channels and store-operated Ca2+ entry in Acute Pancreatitis (Raraty et al PNAS 2000; Gerasimenko et al PNAS 2009; 2011), provided proof-of-principle for Ca2+ release-activated Ca2+ (CRAC) channel blockade as a treatment of severe Acute Pancreatitis (Gerasimenko et al PNAS 2013; J Physiol 2014) and discovered a critical role for pancreatic stellate cells in this disease (Ferdek et al J Physiol 2016; Gryshchenko et al J Physiol 2016,2018). More recently, we have discovered Ca2+ signalling events in pancreatic immune cells that are likely to be important for initiating the cytokine storm that is responsible for severe, and often fatal, cases of Acute Pancreatitis (Gryshchenko et al Function 2021). Current h-index (January 2021): 99 (Google Scholar) or 82 (Scopus)

Current Research work

We continue our work to define the precise intra- and inter-cellular mechanisms driving the important human disease Acute Pancreatitis and to identify the optimal pharmacological intervention points that could prevent and/or cure this disease. We are following up an important paper in J Clin Invest (2018) in which we showed that galactose (a major ingredient in normal human milk) can protect very effectively against Acute Pancreatitis.

Role in the European Science Advice Mechanism

In addition to my primary research work, I am also heavily involved in the European Union’s Scientific Advice Mechanism. As Vice-President of Academia Europaea, I am a member of the Board of SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies), a Horizon 2020 funded (Euro 6 million) project. The purpose is to provide and publish Evidence Review Reports to inform and underpin the Scientific Opinions of the European Commission’s Group of Chief Science Advisors in response to questions from the Commissioners. Academia Europaea is one of the 5 European networks comprising SAPEA and the work of Academia Europaea in this respect is largely conducted by Cardiff University’s Academia Europaea Knowledge Hub. I am the Director of the Knowledge Hub, which currently employs 3 staff members, funded partly by the European Commission and partly by Cardiff University. In 2017 the Cardiff Hub co-ordinated and led the work on the very first SAPEA Evidence Review Report on ‘Food from the Oceans’ which was formally presented to the Commission and published at the end of 2017. In 2019, we published the Evidence Review Report on 'Making sense of science under conditions of complexity and uncertainty'. At the very end of 2020, we published our latest Evidence Review Report on 'Biodegradabiliy of plastics in the open environment' and delivered it to the European Commission. All our Evidence Review Reports can be viewed via the SAPEA website ( and are Open Access.

Affiliated staff

Primary Research

  • Dr Oleksiy Gryschenko (Regular Visiting Senior Scientist from the Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology, National Academy of Sciences Ukraine)
  • Dr Shuang Peng (Regular Visiting Associate Professor from Jinan University, Guangzhou, China

European Science Advice Mechanism

*   Ms Louise Edwards (Hub Manager, Academia Europaea - Cardiff University Knowledge Hub)

*   Mrs Juliet Davies (Executive Officer, Academia Europaea - Cardiff University Knowledge Hub)