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Ole Petersen  CBE FRS

Professor Ole Petersen


Director of the Cardiff University - Academia Europaea Knowledge Hub

School of Biosciences

+44 29208 70846
Sir Martin Evans Building, Room Cardiff School of Biosciences, The Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX



I direct a research programme investigating the role of calcium ions in the pathophysiology of Acute Pancreatitis. In 2021, I published a substantial article summarizing and reviewing the work of my group over the last 20 years on the physiology of the exocrine pancreas and the pathophysiology of Acute Pancreatitis. This article also presented an entirely new concept of the development of this often fatal disease that has important therapeutic implications:

Petersen OH, Gerasimenko JV, Gerasimenko OV, Gryshchenko O, Peng S (2021). The roles of calcium and ATP in the physiology and pathology of the exocrine pancreas. Physiol Rev 101: 1691- 1744.

Following the award of the George E Palade Prize and Medal at the Joint Congress of the International Association of Pancreatology and the Japan Pancreas Society in Kyoto, Japan, July 2022, the written version of my Award Lecture provided additional insights into the roles of the stellate cells and macrophages in pancreatic disease::

Petersen OH (2023). Watching living cells in action in the exocrine pancreas: The Palade Prize Lecture. Function (Oxf) 4: zqac061. 


My current h-index is 104 (Google Scholar) or 93 (Web of Science)

2023 - Biology and Biochemistry in United Kingdom Leader Award. D-index: 107; National (UK) Ranking: 45; World Ranking: 790 



I am also Academic Director of the Cardiff University - Academia Europaea Knowledge Hub

and, as Vice-President of Academia Europaea, in charge of the Hub's work in SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies), which is an important part of the European Commission's Scientific Advice Mechanism 



I am Editor-in-Chief of the American Physiological Society's new Open Access journal Function, published in partnership with Oxford University Press



European Commission: 1st October 2021 - 31st December 2023

Innovate UK: 1st May 2022 - 31st December 2024



























Book sections


Main Research Achievements

I pioneered, with Yoshio Maruyama, patch clamp single channel and whole-cell current recordings in epithelial cells. We discovered hormone-evoked, messenger-mediated ion channel activation (Maruyama & Petersen Nature 1982a,b), voltage-activation of epithelial ion channels (Maruyama et al Nature 1983a,b) and integrated these data into the first model of how ion channels control exocrine fluid secretion (Petersen & Maruyama Nature 1984 [ISI [WoS] Citation Classic]; Petersen J Physiol 1992). I discovered sub-cellular Ca2+ spiking in epithelial cells (Wakui et al Nature 1989, Cell 1990; Thorn et al Cell 1993), messenger-mediated Ca2+ release from the nuclear envelope (Gerasimenko et al Cell 1995) as well as the secretory granules (Gerasimenko et al Cell 1996) and intracellular Ca2+ tunnels (Mogami et al Cell 1997). Together with Oleg and Julia Gerasimenko, we demonstrated the crucial role of Ca2+ release channels and store-operated Ca2+ entry in Acute Pancreatitis(Raraty et al PNAS 2000; Gerasimenko et al PNAS 2009; 2011), provided proof-of-principle for Ca2+ releaseactivated Ca2+ (CRAC) channel blockade as a treatment of severe Acute Pancreatitis (Gerasimenko et al PNAS 2013; J Physiol 2014) and discovered a critical role for pancreatic stellate cells in this disease (Ferdek et al J Physiol 2016; Gryshchenko et al J Physiol 2016,2018). More recently, we have discovered Ca2+ signalling events in pancreatic immune cells that are likely to be important for initiating the cytokine storm that is responsible for severe, and often fatal, cases of Acute Pancreatitis (Gryshchenko et al Function 2021). Most recently, we have discovered that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein elicits Ca2+ signals in pancreatic stellate cells in situ and that these signals in turn evoke Ca2+ signals in pancreatic macrophages (Gerasimenko et al Function 2022). These effects link events in severe Acute Pancreatitis to what happens in Covid-19 and are now being explored further.

Current Research work

We continue our work to define the precise intra- and inter-cellular mechanisms driving the important human disease Acute Pancreatitis and to identify the optimal pharmacological intervention points that could prevent and/or cure this disease. We are following up an important paper in J Clin Invest (Peng et al 2018) in which we showed that galactose (a major ingredient in normal human milk) can protect very effectively against Acute Pancreatitis.

Role in the European Science Advice Mechanism

In addition to my primary research work, I am also heavily involved in the European Union’s Scientific Advice Mechanism. As Vice-President of Academia Europaea, I am a member of the Board of SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies). The purpose is to provide and publish Evidence Review Reports to inform and underpin the Scientific Opinions of the European Commission’s Group of Chief Science Advisors in response to questions from the Commissioners. Academia Europaea is one of the 5 European networks comprising SAPEA and the work of Academia Europaea in this respect is largely conducted by Cardiff University’s Academia Europaea Knowledge Hub. I am the Director of the Knowledge Hub, which currently employs 3 staff members.  All our Evidence Review Reports can be viewed via the SAPEA website ( and are Open Access.

Collaborators in the School of Biosciences

        *  Dr Oleg Gerasimenko (Reader)

         * Dr Julia Gerasimenko (Senior Lecturer)

Affiliated staff

Primary Research

  • Dr Oleksiy Gryschenko (Regular Visiting Senior Scientist from the Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology, National Academy of Sciences Ukraine)
  • Dr Shuang Peng (Regular Visiting Associate Professor from Jinan University, Guangzhou, China

Academia Europaea and European Science Advice Mechanism

*   Ms Louise Edwards (Hub Manager, Academia Europaea - Cardiff University Knowledge Hub)

*   Mrs Juliet Davies (Executive Officer, Academia Europaea - Cardiff University Knowledge Hub)

*   Ms Alice Sadler (Communications Officer, Academia Europaea - Cardiff University Knowledge Hub)



Medical student, University of Copenhagen 1961 – 1969

Cand. Med. (Laudabilis) (MB ChB) University of Copenhagen, 1969

Authorized Medical Practitioner (Danish State Health Authority) 1969

Dr. med. (MD) University of Copenhagen, 1972, for thesis “Acetylcholine-induced ion transports involved in the formation of saliva” (Thesis published as Supplement 381 in Acta physiol scand [now Acta Physiologica] 1972)

Posts held

Lecturer, Institute of Medical Physiology, University of Copenhagen, 1969-73

Wellcome-Carlsberg Travelling Research Fellow, Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge, UK, 1971-72 (on leave of absence from University of Copenhagen)

Senior Lecturer, Institute of Medical Physiology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 1973-78

Symers Professor of Physiology and Head of the Department of Physiology, University of Dundee, Scotland, 1975-81 (on leave of absence from University of Copenhagen 1975-78).

Head of the Department of Physiology, University of Liverpool, 1981-1998

George Holt Professor of Physiology, University of Liverpool, England, 1981- 2009

Director (Head) of Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences, 2010 - 2015

Professor at Cardiff School of Biosciences, 2010 –

Elections to Fellow or Member of Academies (Societies) of Science or Medicine

Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). Elected 2000. Vice-President 2005-2006.

Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (ML). Elected 2010.

Honorary Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Elected 2004.

Member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. Elected 1988.

Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci). Founding Member 1998.

Member of Academia Europaea (MAE). Founding Member 1988. Vice-President 2015 -

Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales (FLSW). Elected 2011. Vice-President 2014 - 2018.

Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP). Elected 2001.

Honorary Member of the German Society for Gastroenterology, Digestive and Metabolic Diseases. Elected 2017.

Honorary Member of the European Pancreatic Club. Elected 2022. President 2003.

Honorary Member of The Physiological Society. Elected 2015. President 2006 - 2008.

Honorary Member of the Hungarian Physiological Society. Elected 2002.

Honorary Member of the Polish Physiological Society. Elected 1993.

National Honour

Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for 'Services to Science'. Award received personally from Queen Elizabeth II, at Buckingham Palace, 7th May 2008. 

Awards and Keynote Lectures (Selection)

The 2023 FEPS (Federation of European Physiological Societies) Lecture, to be delivered at the FEPS Congress 'Physiology in Focus 2023', in Tallinn, Estonia on 15th September 2023. 

2023 - Biology and Biochemistry in United Kingdom Leader Award. D-index: 107; National Ranking: 45; World Ranking: 790 

The 2023 Leopoldina Lecture, delivered at the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Halle, Germany on 7th March 2023

The International Association of Pancreatology's (IAP) 2022 Palade Prize and Medal. Award Lecture was delivered at the Joint Conference of IAP and the Japan Pancreas Society, held at the Kyoto International Conference Center, Kyoto, Japan, on 7th July 2022. The Palade Prize Lecture: 

Fellow of the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) and Inaugural Member (one of thirty worldwide) of the IUPS Academy of Physiology, 2021

The Inaugural Sir Michael Berridge Memorial Lecture, FASEB Calcium and Cell Function Conference (virtual), 26th October 2021.

Academia Europaea's 2020 Gold Medal Award. The Gold Medal was received from the President of Academia Europaea, and the Award Lecture ‘Science, scientific publishing and scientific advice for policy: 50 years of personal experiences’ was delivered, in person, at the Academy's 32nd Annual Conference in Barcelona on 20th October 2021. Published in European Review (doi: 10.1017/S1062798722000084)

Honorary Professor at Jinan University, Guangzhou, China. A series of 4 lectures delivered in Guangzhou in March 2019.

The American Physiological Society's 2018 Walter B Cannon Award. Plenary Award Lecture delivered at Experimental Biology (EB), San Diego Convention Center, California, 22nd April 2018. Published in Physiological Reviews 101: 1691-1744, 2021

Opening Plenary Lecture at the 2013 Annual Congress of the Brazilian Society of Physiology. Rebeirao Preto, Sao Paulo, 7th September 2013

The American Physiological Society's Horace W Davenport Distinguished Lecture. Experimental Biology (EB), Boston, Massachusetts, 23rd April 2013.

The 2012 Leopoldina Lecture. Delivered at the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Halle on 23rd May 2012.

Lifetime Achievement Award. European Pancreatic Club (EPC). Award lecture delivered at the EPC's Annual Meeting, Stockholm, 17th June 2010.

Plenary Keynote Lecture at Annual Meeting of the Korean Physiological Society, Gagneung, South Korea, 30th October 2009.

Opening Plenary Lecture at Beijing Joint Conference of Physiological Sciences 2008. Beijing 20th October 2008.

The Plenary Keynote Lecture at 82nd Annual Conference of the Physiological Society of Japan, Sendai, May 2005.

Purkyne Honorary Medal for 'Merit in the Biological Sciences' from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. 2003.

The Keynote Lecture at Gordon Research Conference in Calcium Signaling, South Hadley, Massachusetts, July 2003.

The 1994 Jacobaeus Prize from the NOVO NORDISK FOUNDATION