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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 (1st October 2016 - 30th September 2020).



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 –

Honours and awards

2018The American Physiological Society's Walter B Cannon Memorial Award Lecturer. The Plenary Award Lecture to be delivered at Experimental Biology in San Diego, USA on 22nd April 2018
2017Elected Honorary Member of the German Society for Gastroenterology, Digestive and Metabolic Diseases. Award Lecture at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the Society in Dresden, September 2017
2015Appointed Vice-President of Academia Europaea
2015Elected Honorary Member of The Physiological Society
2014Elected Vice-President (Science, Technology and Medicine) of The Learned Society of Wales for 3 years, beginning at The Society's AGM on 14th May 2014
2013Opening Plenary Lecture at the 2013 Annual Congress of the Brazilian Society of Physiology in Sao Paulo
2013Keynote Lecture at the 37th International Congress of Physiological Sciences (IUPS2013), Birmingham, UK
2013The American Physiological Society's Horace W Davenport Distinguished Lectureship, Experimental Biology 2013, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
2012MRC Professorship and MRC Programme Grant renewed (2012 – 2017)
2012Public (Inaugural) Lecture as Member of the German National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina, Halle, Germany
2011Honorary Professor at College of Medicine, Jinan National University, Guangzhou, China
2011Elected Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales
2010Elected Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
2010Appointed Chair of HEFCE's Biological Sciences Sub-panel, REF2014
2010Appointed Member of the Welsh Government's Science Advisory Council for Wales
2010Lifetime Achievement Award, European Pancreatic Club
2009American Gastroenterological Association's State-of-the-Art Lecture, Digestive Diseases Week 2009, Chicago, USA
2008  Appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in The Queen's New Year Honours list for 'Services to Science'
2008Appointed Chair of the European Research Council's Starting Grant Panel LS4 (2009-2011)
2008Keynote Lecture at 4th Covian Symposium, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
2008MRC Professorship and MRC Programme Grant renewed (2008 - 2012)
2006President of The Physiological Society, UK (2006 – 2008)
2005Vice-President of The Royal Society (2005 – 2006)
2005Plenary Keynote Lecture, 82nd Annual Meeting of the Physiological Society of Japan, Sendai
2005JA Young Memorial Lecture, Gordon Research Conference on Salivary Glands, California, USA
2004Elected Honorary Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
2003Purkyne Medal from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
2003The Keynote Lecture, Gordon Research Conference on Calcium Signaling, Mass., USA
2003Chair of Physiological Review's European Editorial Committee (2003 – 2011)
2003MRC Professorship and MRC Programme Grant renewed (2003 – 2008)
2001Secretary General of the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) (2001 – 2009)
2000Elected Fellow of The Royal Society (FRS)























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).

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. Very recently, we have published an important paper in J Clin Invest (2018) in which we show 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 (located in the Hadyn Ellis Building), which currently employs 3 full time staff 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. We are now working on the project 'Making sense of science'. The evidence review report for this project will be delivered to the European Commission before the summer 2019.

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)

*   Dr Esther Dorado Ladera (Executive Officer, Academia Europaea - Cardiff University Knowledge Hub)