Scientific Research Project Title

Magnesium: The Forgotten Elect...Magnesium: The Forgotten Electrolyte in the Elixir of Life?

Research Institution

University of Southern Denmark

Department of Cardiovascular and Renal Research
Institute of Molecular Medicine 

CONTACT INFO

Phone: +45 65508310
Email: hdimke@health.sdu.dk

 

Research leader

Henrik Dimke

Associate Professor, PhD, born 1980

Project title

Understanding the physiological effects of magnesium - a forgotten mineral with healing properties

What is your project about?

Magnesium deficiency aggrevates symptoms and mortality in a number of diseases, whereas magnesium administration may revert these effects. As such, Mg2+ appears essential to the organism, yet our knowledge of cellular Mg2+ transport is poor. In order to exploit the therapeutic potential of Mg2+, it is imperative to understand the molecular machinery involved in maintaining homeostasis and mediating the cellular actions of Mg2+. This project seeks to fill this knowledge gap by studying the molecular mechanisms involved in cellular transport of this "forgotten" mineral. 

Henrik Dimke - image Health_sdu.png

How did you become interested in your particular field of research?

I have been very interested in biological systems since high school. When I started as a master student studying the kidney's function and physiology, I became interested in this complex organ involved in maintaining many vital processes throughout the body. During my PhD I worked in a group who had contributed significantly to understand how magnesium channels are regulated. I have subsequently been very interested in this combination, but also how these specific magnesium channels are involved in other fundamental processes elsewhere in the body.

What are the scientific challenges and perspectives in your project?

The specific magnesium channels I investigate are very large and there have generally been few reagents to study them, both with respect to detecting them in tissue and to block their transport. It is also very difficult to measure magnesium within the kidneys tubular system. Furthermore, most of the studies that have investigated these channels were primarily performed in cells and it has therefore been difficult to get a complete overview of the physiological roles they play in the organism. I will attempt to address these challenges in the project and investigate the physiological function of these channels in the organism.

What is your estimate of the impact, which your project may have to society in the long term? 

Magnesium is a "forgotten" mineral as the amount of magnesium in the blood is not measured routinely in the clinic or by the general practitioner. In fact, magnesium deficiency can be seen in a wide range of patient groups, with up to 65% of the patients in the intensive care units. Magnesium supplementation can reduce symptoms and lower mortality in a number of diseases. But the fundamental processes whereby magnesium balance is maintained and how magnesium exerts its effects throughout the body remains to be delineated in detail. In order to exploit the therapeutic potential of Mg2+, it is imperative to understand the molecular machinery involved in maintaining homeostasis and mediating the cellular actions of Mg2+. Therefore, this project seeks to fill this knowledge gap by studying the molecular mechanisms involved in cellular transport of this "forgotten" mineral.

Which impact do you expect the Sapere Aude programme will have on your career as a researcher?

To be a recipient of a Sapere Aude grant is a great acknowledgment of my research abilities and I predict it will move my research career a big step forward. The Sapere Aude program will allow me to obtain new specialized techniques and expand our existing infrastructure, which I have worked hard to establish over the last few years. Likewise, the grant will allow more personnel, which is extremely important for performing this type of research. Overall, I now have the opportunity to follow our promising preliminary research findings and increase the chance of a scientific breakthrough in my research field.

Background and personal life

I have returned to Denmark after a long period abroad at various international laboratories, including stays in the Netherlands and Canada. Now I spend most of my time outside the laboratory, together with my wonderful family. I'm very fond of technical diving, such as deep wreck and cave diving, but it's getting much less frequent that I get to go on these trips. In my spare time, I try in the gym or watch a good movie.

City of your current residence
Vejle

High school
Risskov Gymnasium