Anitschkow Prize winner

Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen

Copenhagen, Denmark

Anne Tybjærg-Hansen MD DMSc, is Chief Physician at the Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Section for Molecular Genetics, at Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark (since November 1999), as well as Professor of Clinical Biochemistry with Focus on Translational Molecular Cardiology at the University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark (since December 2009). She graduated as a medical doctor from the University of Copenhagen in 1981 and her scientific education included one year at the University of Copenhagen and the Lipid Clinic at Righospitalet, 3 years at Hagedorn Research Laboratory, Gentofte, Denmark; and 3 years at the British Heart Foundation’s Molecular Biology Research Group, London, UK.

Professor Tybjaerg-Hansen is a member of the steering committees of the Copenhagen City Heart Study and the Copenhagen General Population Study and past chairman of the European Lipoprotein Club.

Saturday 05 May 18:30

The Anitschkow Lecture - Genetics of cardiovascular disease: From ugly duckling to beautiful swan

Professor Tybjærg-Hansen is a world-wide recognized leader in the field of atherosclerosis-related human genetics research and in the evaluation of risks to population health. Her creative and groundbreaking work has influenced, and continues to have significant impact on, Atherosclerosis Societies in Europe in their efforts to understand the mechanisms of atherosclerosis. She initiated the genetic part of the Copenhagen City Heart Study and finalized the collection and thorough analysis of data obtained in this exemplary study. She has envisioned and demonstrated that this biobank is of major importance for the identification of the genetic contribution to lipid metabolism, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease. In fact, Professor Tybjærg-Hansen is a pioneer in using genetics to understand the importance of individual genes for the development of diseases in general. Her approach has been highly original, novel, and continues to be performed at an outstanding level.

The research

Professor Tybjaerg-Hansen has made major contributions to the understanding of the genetics of lipoproteins and their association with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. In her early work at the British Heart Foundation’s Molecular Biology Research Group, she was involved in the evolution of screening for mutations in patients with a clinical diagnosis of FH, as well as elucidation of the genetic basis of familial defective apolipoprotein B-100.

Subsequent research by Professor Tybjaerg-Hansen was aided by the use of the Mendelian randomization approach to interrogate the causal nature of genetic variants with ischaemic heart disease risk. Major advances were made in determining causal associations between genetic variants influencing plasma levels of lipoprotein(a) and triglycerides (as a marker of remnant cholesterol) and risk of ischaemic heart disease, whereas other variants influencing C-reactive protein and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, were  shown not to be causal. Her research linking variants of APOC3, involved in the regulation of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, with risk for ischaemic heart disease has been pivotal to the development of novel therapeutic approaches to the management of elevated triglycerides. Added to this, her research group has investigated links between genetic expression of cholesterol transporters and risk for ischaemic heart disease and gallstone disease, delineated elevated body mass index as a causal risk factor for to gallstone disease, and showed an association between visible age-related signs (such as male baldness) and risk of ischaemic heart disease in the general population.  Recent collaborative approaches have also investigated associations between lipoprotein variants and Alzheimer’s dementia, and identified new susceptibility loci for type 2 diabetes and shared aetiological pathways with coronary heart disease.

In addition, studies published in The European Heart Journal this year focus on the duality between liver fat content and ischaemic heart disease.