Published: 08-06-2023 16:28 | Updated: 25-09-2023 14:51

Young Investigator award from EFSD to Frank Chenfei Ning

Photo: Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

Frank Chenfei Ning, postdoc in Ulf Eriksson’s group at The Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, has been awarded the 2023 Young Investigator award from the European Foundation for the study of diabetes.

Frank Chenfei Ning Photo: Johannes Frandsen

Congratulations Frank! Tell us about your research focus.

“Patients with type 2 diabetes have greater risks of developing heart failure which is the leading cause of death in diabetic patients. Diabetic cardiomyopathy, a term used to describe heart muscle disease that is associated with type 2 diabetes, is one of the major causes leading to heart failure. Diabetic cardiomyopathy is often underdiagnosed in the early stages due to a long asymptomatic phase, and more importantly, there is no effective treatment for diabetic cardiomyopathy. Current treatment options for type 2 diabetes and its complications, including diabetic cardiomyopathy, have a strong “blood glucose lowering” focus. However, this type of strategy has failed to improve cardiac function and reduce the risk of heart failure in diabetic patients. Therefore, there is a huge unmet need for developing new therapeutic strategies for this disease”, says Frank.

What is the project about?

“In this project I will further investigate if and how blocking of VEGF-B signaling under type 2 diabetic conditions could reduce toxic lipid accumulation in heart muscle and subsequently prevent fibrosis and the development of diabetic cardiomyopathy. This project will provide a crucial understanding of pathophysiological mechanisms in diabetic cardiomyopathy and heart failure. The findings from this project will further provide insights into developing a new therapeutic strategy by targeting VEGF-B signaling. In collaboration with the biopharmaceutical company CSL Ltd, Melbourne, Australia, a VEGF-B antibody has already been developed, and is currently in Phase 2a clinical trial for a diabetic complication. Hence the findings from this project may be of high translational significance and thereby facilitate a rapid transition from preclinical research into the clinic”, says Frank and continues:

“The study will be led by me and mentored by Prof. Ulf Eriksson, and senior researchers Annelie Falkevall, and Erika Folestad. Additional laboratory support will be obtained from lab technician Björn Roberts”.


The criteria for the award are:

The objective of the EFSD/Lilly Young Investigator Research Awards is to encourage innovative research in the fields of diabetes and its complications, and to promote excellence in medical education. Applicants should have demonstrated their ability in the field of diabetes research.