Researcher profile of the month: Charlotte Mehlin Sørensen – University of Copenhagen

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10 October 2017

Researcher profile of the month: Charlotte Mehlin Sørensen

Profile

It was an exciting guest lecture by Ole Skøtt on the renin-angiotensin system that made the young human biology student Charlotte Mehlin Sørensen interested in the kidney. Today, she is an associate professor at BMI and finds great pleasure in teaching.

Associate professor Charlotte Mehlin Sørensen’s research is focused on the kidneys’ function. She examines how to regulate the amount of blood floating to the kidneys and the amount of blood being filtered based on the point of view that the kidneys are the organ that controls blood pressure.  

“About 25% of the population is suffering from high blood pressure and there is a lot of evidence indicating that the kidneys are where it all begins. Basically that is our main objective; to find out why people get high blood pressure – and especially if there are specific mechanisms in the kidneys that causes high blood pressure,” says Charlotte Mehlin Sørensen.

The research in high blood pressure has led to a series of minor studies and projects with focus on the kidney. Recently, Charlotte Mehlin Sørensen worked on a project in collaboration with Professor Jens Juul Holst, who, after accidentally finding GLP-1 receptor in the vessels of the kidney, wanted to investigate why GLP-1 is found there. This is how most of Charlotte’s research projects begin; with unexpected results and a lot of curiosity.

In particular, curiosity is essential for Associate professor Charlotte Mehlin Sørensen’s passion for research: “Ever since I was little, I have had to touch everything. As a researcher, you must dare to disassemble things without being afraid of whether you can put them back together, otherwise you will never accomplish anything. It is my curiosity that drives me and makes me want to touch everything. If I touch things and something happens, then I am curious to find out why it happens,” Charlotte explains.

This winter, Associate professor Charlotte Mehlin Sørensen will begin working on a new large 4-year project granted by the Innovation Fund. The objective of the project, which will primarily take place at DTU, is to make ultrasound scanners with a resolution that makes it possible to see blood flow at the capillary level. The aim is to be able to scan patients non-invasive without necessarily having to give them something radioactive. The new type of scanner should, among other things, be used to follow the development in e.g. a tumour by making it possible to scan the patient after the first round of chemotherapy and immediately see if it affects the blood supply for the tumour or the number of blood vessels.

Teaching is a privilege

As a human biology student, Charlotte Mehlin Sørensen was attending a guest lecture by Ole Skøtt on the renin-angiotensin system and it was this specific lecture that made her interested in the kidneys. Experiences like these are what Charlotte hopes to be able to give the students when she teaches at a course about the kidney and urinary tract.

“I think it is a privilege to stand in front of 200 people who are listening to what I am saying, and I really gain something when they occasionally have this “aha” moment. Teaching also gives me a new perspective on my own research – especially when I feel that I know everything and then the students suddenly ask me a question which I have never thought of before and I need to look for the answer” says Charlotte and continues: “In my opinion, teaching is a key part of being employed at a university. Our most important job is to teach and that is basically what we are here for. Being able to generate new knowledge and pass it on to others that is an essential task as a researcher” says Charlotte.