Investigator Spotlight: May 2016
Lars Krogvold, MD
Dr. Krogvold is a researcher at Oslo University Hospital in Norway. He works with nPOD Investigator, Dr. Knut Dahl- Jorgensen.
- Tell us about your education and background – where are you from, where did you go to school?
I am from Gjerdrum, a small and peaceful village 30 km outside Oslo, the capital of Norway. I studied medicine at the University of Oslo and graduated as a medical doctor in 1995. After some years at the hospital in Ålesund, on the west coast of Norway, I returned to Oslo in 2000 where I have been at the pediatric department at Oslo University Hospital, and a consultant since 2003.
- Where do you currently work and what is your position? What does a “day in the life” look like for you?
At the moment, I combine clinics and research. 50% of my time is spent in the clinics, mainly working with children and adolescents with diabetes and other endocrine diseases. In addition, I spend 50% of my time as a researcher, running the Diabetes Virus Detection study (DiViD). Hopefully I will fulfill my thesis in a few months. The thesis is called “The pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes – lessons from pancreatic biopsies in the DiViD”.
The combination of clinics and research is ideal for me! I really like working with patients and their families, and by following children with T1D for several years, from early childhood through puberty, up to adult age, I get to know them very well. I felt privileged to have such an interesting and never boring job. Then research is demanding in many other ways. I especially enjoy collaborating with people much more competent and intelligent than myself, and my entry to the nPOD society has for me been extremely valuable and fruitful.
- Why diabetes? How did you get involved in diabetes and/or what made you want to work in diabetes research?
I chose diabetes and endocrinology for two main reasons: I like children better than newborn (as they cannot talk!), and I like working with the same patients and their parents for years. I find it both challenging and meaningful trying to help patients, and families, make a good life with their diabetes. In the later years, I have also been really annoyed and upset by the lack of knowledge regarding the causes of Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), and the complete absence of possibilities to cure the disease. To find the cure for T1D, and to make the disease preventable, is the big dream for all involved in T1D research! By joining nPOD, I am hoping to contribute to solving the big puzzle.
- Tell us about your research.
In the DiViD study, we wanted to explore whether or not viruses might contribute to the development of T1D. We have collected pancreatic specimens from 6 live adults with newly diagnosed T1D (less than 9 weeks), who all volunteered for the project. Viruses are not always easy to detect, at least not if the amount is sparse. We have investigated the pancreatic tissue with different methods, and identified small amounts of virus proteins in all the 6 patients included in the study. In addition, we also have found genetic material from viruses in 4 of the 6 patients. Although this, of course, does not prove any causality between viruses and T1D, we find our discoveries exciting, as viruses (both protein and genetic material) very seldom are found in pancreatic tissue from individuals without T1D.
In addition, we have, in collaboration with research colleagues, investigated the pancreatic tissue in many other ways regarding for instance inflammation, beta cell function and innervation.
- What are your thoughts on the progress being made in T1D research as a whole?
I think the recent years have been extremely exciting, with a lot of major progresses being made in our understanding of T1D. By the work of nPOD, and also with contribution from DiViD, more focus has been drawn to the processes going on in the pancreas when T1D is present or under development. It might be seen as a paradox that even though we do not know the causes of T1D, we never examine the sick organ itself. The recent years have brought much more attention to the pancreas, the islets of Langerhans and the beta-cells. That should give reasons for being optimistic to the future, and I do think the mysteries of T1D will be solved!
- Why is diabetes research so important?
Through my work as a pediatrician, I have seen the enormous consequences and implications T1D has to the patient and his/her family. In spite of modern treatment modalities, like insulin pump and insulin analogues, T1D is still an extremely challenging disease to cope with, putting a burden to the lives of these people. In addition, T1D is still a dangerous disease, with an increased risk of both severe complications and reduced life span. Recently, it was shown that in Norway, children diagnosed with T1D have a 3.6-fold increased risk of mortality compared to non-diabetic children. Based on this, its obvious for me that diabetes research is extremely important.
- Do you have anything extra you would like to share? Is there anyone to thank or acknowledge?
I would like to thank all the patients and their families contributing to research. Most important for me was the effort from the 6 brave, altruistic individuals that participated in DiViD. Without their trust in me and the project, my career as a researcher would never have even started! In the same way, the contributions from the families of the patients included in nPOD are indispensable. My mentors, Professors Knut Dahl-Jørgensen and Kristian F. Hanssen are essential for me, as are my collaborators in Uppsala, Tampere, Exeter and many other centers worldwide.
- When you’re not working, what do you like to do for fun?
As a native Norwegian, I of course love skiing. In addition, I play the piano in a band and with a choir. I enjoy travelling with my lovely wife, both in Norway and in Europe, and I like a well prepared meal in the company of close friends and family.