11 May 2017

Researcher profile of the month: Birgitte Holst


Birgitte Holst is professor MSO in pharmacology with a focus on molecular metabolic and conducts research on obesity and diabetes. Birgitte’s primary research consists of examining how drugs affect the body’s tendency to overeat.

In 2003, Birgitte Holst was involved in the discovery that the so-called ghrelin receptor plays an important role in overeating. The ghrelin receptor constantly tries to convince the brain that the body must eat – even when the body does not need food.

Since then, Birgitte Holst’s basic research has been essential for the work of the pharmaceutical industry on the development of new drugs that affect the appetite. The collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry has recently led to a grant from Takeda for a 1 year postdoc with the aim of developing of a pill that can simulate a gastric bypass surgery.

”I examine how the stomach and brain communicate,” Birgitte says and explains that especially appetite regulation is one of the key words of her research: “The understanding of what regulates the appetite is important in order to control overeating. What is it that makes us eat as we do, even when our body does not really need it? At the same time, we examine what happens to the body when you lose weight”.

In addition to her research, Professor Birgitte Holst is course leader of the course Translational Pharmacology where she teaches in the process of drug production.

Birgitte Holst is also affiliated with the Center for Basic Metabolic Research where she among others works closely with Jens Juul Holst and Bolette Hartmann. Moreover, Birgitte is heading the core facility Rodent Metabolic Phenotyping Center which examines how the body composition of mice works, including how mice absorb and burn nourishment.

Read more about Birgitte’s research