Young researcher receives talent award for discovering a new way of detecting cystic fibrosis

MD and postdoc Peder Matzen Berg has studied renal base excretion, which has led to the development of promising test methods related to cystic fibrosis. He is now receiving the Aarhus University Research Foundation PhD Award for his outstanding research.

Peder Matzen Berg receives the Aarhus University Research Foundation PhD Award for his outstanding research.
Peder Matzen Berg receives the Aarhus University Research Foundation PhD Award for his outstanding research. Photo: Maiken Kestner.

As a medical student at AU, Peder Matzen Berg took an interest in the kidneys, the function of which is, among other things, to ensure balance between acid and base in the body. During his research year at the Department of Biomedicine, he came up with an idea that would later lead to the development of potentially groundbreaking test methods. Initially, these methods were tested on mice that had been genetically modified to reflect the disease cystic fibrosis.

"We knew that patients with cystic fibrosis have problems with excessive accumulation of base in the body, but we didn’t know why. We wanted to study how mutations in the patients affected a specific cell function in kidneys. There were indications that this function could be important for the kidneys' ability to excrete excess base in the body," says Peder Berg.

Facts about the PhD award:

  • The Aarhus University Research Foundation first awarded its annual PhD award in 2003 in connection with the university’s 75th anniversary.
  • The graduate schools at Aarhus University nominate a number of candidates based on recommendations from the faculties. The senior management team and the Research Foundation then make the final decision.
  • All recipients completed their PhD in the previous year, in this case in 2023.
  • The award includes a cash prize of DKK 50,000
  • This year's award winners are Peter Matzen Berg, Christian T. Elbæk, Paulina Ewa Majchrzak, Johanne Nedergaard and Thomas Daae Stridsland.
  • You can register for the award ceremony on 29 May by clicking here.

His idea was to give the mice base in the form of a baking soda solution and then measure how well they could excrete it. This proved to be an effective method that could easily be transferred to humans. Consequently, Peder Berg headed a project to test 50 cystic fibrosis patients in collaboration with consultants from Skejby Hospital.

"We found a clear correlation between the degree of the kidney's ability to excrete base and the degree of the patients' lung insufficiency and pancreatic insufficiency. Our urine test can thus be used as a marker for the severity of the disease and how well a patient responds to treatments. The hope is that the test will be used at hospitals and help doctors find the right medicine and dosage," explains Peder Berg, who is now conducting postdoctoral research into the function of kidneys.


MD and postdoc Peder Matzen Berg
Aarhus University, Department of Biomedicine

Based on press material from the Aarhus University Research Foundation.