Chapter 10: Professor Poul Nissen


“Structural biology is the focus of Poul Nissen’s research. His international status and the topic’s relevance right now are evidenced by his busy schedule. He is constantly sought out about his own research as well as for his extraordinary perspective on what the big questions in biological research are today.

“Poul Nissen’s national and international fame is particularly a result of his group’s groundbreaking work on solving the structures of a big family of ion pumps that have a vital role for the functioning of all the cells in our bodies (Fact box 1). But this is far from the only important scientific question that Nissen has helped solve in his career, and it is far from being the last one he will solve. He doesn’t sit still, and his plans for the next several years of research are to go one step further. He wants to use the group’s deep insight into the membrane protein’s structure to get a better understanding of how the functioning of these proteins interacts with other processes in cells, thereby regulating central biological functions.

»This is where the research in biology is right now. We have been very descriptive. Now, we have to challenge ourselves by building a bridge between the first principles that we know from chemistry and physics on a molecular level with biology and behavior that we also know on a macroscopic level. The connection between the two worlds is in the cell’s biology, and it is very difficult. The big challenge in the biological sciences is to understand how it all works, level for level. And since biology is the most complex thing we know in the universe, it is also the biggest question that we have overall in science. «


You can read the full portrait of Professor Poul Nissen (in Danish) by downloading the chapter below.

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