Bacteria researcher receives annual award of DKK 5 million

Professor Lone Gram is employed at DTU Systems Biology, where she researches bacteria ecology and physiology, with the focus on finding the properties of the bacteria which may be of benefit to humans. This may be the bacteria's production of antibiotic substances or other medically relevant substances or enzymes and other biochemicals. The research is based partly on the professor's unique collection of bacteria, which was collected during the major Galathea3 scientific voyage in 2006-07. Over 2,000 different bacterial strains were taken from the sea and have since been cultivated and analysed in the laboratories of Lone Gram’s research team. 

Since genome sequencing has become possible, Lone Gram and her research team have been investigating the promising bacteria from the Galathea expedition to see what their DNA can reveal. The results are exciting.

"Some of the bacteria appear to have huge genetic potential to produce bioactive substances. The potential is up to four times as large as the number of substances we have found in the lab," says Lone Gram, who, with her team of 11 researchers and the support of the annual award, can now focus on realising the potential of these promising bacteria.

Photo: Jacob Boserup

Several stays abroad

Throughout her career, the 55-year-old researcher has studied bacteria and has also worked on bacterial communication and interaction on several stays abroad, among other things as a visiting researcher at Havard Medical School in Boston, USA, and the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

Although Lone Gram has worked at DTU Lyngby Campus since 1985, when she was a recent graduate in food science, her initial employer was actually the Technological Laboratory of the Danish Ministry of Fisheries, which was then located on the DTU campus. Subsequent mergers and restructurings have resulted in Lone Gram having the Danish Institute for Fisheries Research, DTU Aqua and DTU Food on her business card at different times.

The professor is also currently chair of the Danish Council for Independent Research|Nature and the Universe.

About Lone Gram

2013: Member of the Danish Council for Independent Research | Nature and the Universe, vice-chair in 2014 and chair since 2015

2013: Professor at DTU Systems Biology

2010: Professor at DTU Food

2009: Visiting researcher at Havard Medical School in Boston 

2008: Receives research award from Fritz Kaufmann's Memorial Foundation and Tagea Brandt's Travel Grant

2006–07: Galathea3 research expedition

2007: Research professor at DTU Aqua and DTU Systems Biology

2000: Research council professor at the Danish Institute for Fisheries Research

1994–99: Three stays as a visiting researcher at the University of New South Wales, Australia

1993: Senior researcher at the Danish Institute for Fisheries Research

1988: Researcher at the Technological Laboratory of the Danish Ministry of Fisheries

1989: Lic.agro. (PhD) in microbiology

1985: MSc in food science (cand.brom.) from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University

Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award in Science and Technology


This year, VILLUM FONDEN has decided to honour two researchers to mark the 75th anniversary of VKR Group. Normally, only one award is presented each year.

On 22 January 2016, the Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award will be presented both to Professor Lone Gram of the Technical University of Denmark and to Professor Jens Stougaard of Aarhus University.

Thirty-three researchers have received the award since it was created.

VILLUM FONDEN is a non-profit, private charitable foundation that supports technology and natural science research as well as environmental, social and cultural project both in Denmark and internationally.

Molecular biologist receives the Villum Kann Rasmussen Annual Award