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Professor Dr

Ole Holger Petersen

Year of election: 2010
Section: Physiology and Pharmacology/Toxicology
City: Cardiff
Country: Great Britain
Ole Holger Petersen awarded Palade Prize 2022


Research Priorities: Single channel currents in epithelial cells, Ca2+ release from nuclear envelopes, intracellular Ca2+ tunnels, role of IP3 receptors in alcohol-related pancreatitis, CRAC channel blockade as treatment for pancreatitis

Ole Petersen is distinguished for studies, revealing the mechanisms by which secretion from exocrine glands are controlled. He pioneered single channel current recording in epithelial cells, characterizing several types of calcium-activated ion channels important for fluid secretion. He discovered hormone-evoked local calcium signals and showed that they controlled both fluid and enzyme secretion.

More recently, he has discovered how certain alcohol metabolites evoke excessive calcium release from intracellular stores, thereby initiating pancreatitis, a human disease in which the pancreas digests itself and its surroundings. He has defined the intracellular receptor mechanisms responsible for alcohol-related pancreatitis and shown how they can be blocked.


  • since 2017 Professor of Physiology and Director of the Academia Europaea – Cardiff Knowledge Hub, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Wales, UK
  • 2010-2017 Medical Research Council Professor at Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Wales, UK
  • 2010-2015 Director and Head of Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Wales, UK
  • 1998-2009 Medical Research Council Professor at the University of Liverpool, England, UK
  • 1981-2009 George Holt Professor of Physiology at the University of Liverpool, England, UK
  • 1981-1998 Chairman of Department of Physiology, University of Liverpool, England, UK
  • 1975-1981 Symers Professor of Physiology at the University of Dundee, Scotland, UK
  • 1972 Habilitation (Dr. Med.) University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 1969 Promotion (Cand. Med. [MBChB]) University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 1961-1969 Medical student at University of Copenhagen, Denmark


  • since 2020 Editor-in-Chief of the American Physiological Society’s new Open Access journal FUNCTION, launching 2020
  • since 2016 Member of the SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) Board (part of the European Commission’s SAM [Scientific Advice Mechanism])
  • since 2015 Vice-President of Academia Europaea
  • 2010-2015 Chair of the Biological Sciences Sub-panel for the UK Government’s (Higher Education Funding Council) Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF2014) and also Member of Main Panel A
  • 2010-2019 Member of the Welsh Government’s Science Advisory Council for Wales
  • 2008-2011 Chair of the European Research Council’s (ERC) Starting Grant Panel for Physiology, Pathophysiology and Endocrinology
  • 2006-2008 President of The Physiological Society (UK)
  • 2005-2006 Vice-President of The Royal Society

Honours and Memberships

  • 2022 Palade Prize
  • 2020 Academia Europaea’s Gold Medal ‘for his contribution to European Science’. Award Lecture at the Academy’s 32nd Annual Meeting, Barcelona, October 2020
  • 2018 American Physiological Society’s Walter B Cannon Memorial Award Lecturer. Plenary Award Lecture at FASEB’s Experimental Biology in San Diego, USA, 22nd April 2018
  • since 2017 Honorary Member of the German Society for Gastroenterology, Digestive and Metabolic Diseases. Award Lecture at Society’s 72nd Annual Meeting, Dresden, 14th September 2017
  • since 2015 Honorary Member of The Physiological Society (UK)
  • 2013 American Physiological Society’s Horace W Davenport Distinguished Lectureship. Award Lecture at FASEB’s ‘Experimental Biology 2013’, Boston, MA, USA
  • 2013 Honorary President and Keynote Lecturer at the 37th International Congress of Physiological Sciences (IUPS), Birmingham, England, UK
  • since 2010 Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
  • 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award, European Pancreatic Club
  • 2008 Appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for ‘Services to Science’
  • since 2004 Honorary Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
  • 2003 J.E. Purkyne Honorary Medal for ‘Merit in the Biological Sciences’ from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
  • since 2001 Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians London
  • since 2000 Fellow of The Royal Society
  • since 1998 Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (UK)
  • 1994 NOVO Nordisk Foundation’s H.C. Jacobaeus Prize. Award Lecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences & Letters, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 1991 The Physiological Society’s Annual Review Prize. Award Lecture delivered at the University of Cambridge, England, UK. (published in J. Physiol. 448, 1-51, 1992
  • 1993 The article ‘Calcium-activated potassium channels and their role in secretion’ by Ole Petersen and Yoshio Maruyama (published in Nature 307, 693-696, 1984) named as an ISI Citation Classic (Current Contents, Life Sciences vol. 36, no. 48, p.9)
  • since 1988 Member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences & Letters
  • since 1988 Member of Academia Europaea





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