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Fellows Directory

Ole Petersen

Professor Ole Petersen CBE FMedSci FRS


Elected: 2000


Ole Petersen is a medical doctor and physiologist whose research, in addition to uncovering the cellular mechanisms by which the secretion of digestive enzymes from the pancreas are controlled, has shown how excessive intracellular release and subsequent entry of calcium ions cause activation of digestive enzymes inside pancreatic cells. This process leads to acute pancreatitis and an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

The pancreas secretes a cocktail of enzymes that normally become activated in the gut to help break down proteins, fat and carbohydrates. However, gallstones or an excessive intake of alcohol can lead to activation of these enzymes inside pancreatic cells, which then digest the pancreas itself.

Ole has shown that specific pharmacological inhibition of entry pathways for calcium ions markedly reduces the excess enzyme activity and subsequent cell death and inflammation. His significant research was acknowledged by the award of CBE in the 2008 New Year Honours, election to the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in 2010 and the Walter B. Cannon Award of the American Physiological Society in 2018.

Professional positions

Professor, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University
Vice-President and Member of Executive Board, Academia Europaea
Academic Director, Academia Europaea Cardiff Knowledge Hub, Academia Europaea
Board Member, Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA)

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


Calcium antagonist therapy, Calcium imaging, Electrophysiology, Pancreas, pathophysiology