At the start of the 1980s, Dr Majid Sheykhzade was a hard-working, academically gifted teenager looking forward to university in Iran. His accolades included a front-page newspaper story that recognized him as a “super-student.” However, the devastating Iran-Iraq War caused the closure of all universities. Dr Sheykhzade’s options became extreme and lmited: military service or immigration. At the age of 20, Dr Sheykhzade made the difficult choice to leave.

Dr Sheykhzade arrived in Denmark by chance. The majority of his relatives relocated to California, USA. Dr Sheykhzade is grateful that Denmark became his new home: “Denmark is an amazing, unique country. I am pleased to be able to give back to the community that has welcomed me with so much support and opportunity.”

Links between the cardiovascular system and common diseases
Today, as an Associate Professor in the Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, Dr Sheykhzade is a researcher and educator. His cutting-edge cardiovascular physiology and pharmacology research explores the complex mechanism behind the regulation of arterial tone in the cardiovascular system to understand its role in diseases such as diabetes, stroke, hypertension, congestive heart failure, migraine, and age-related changes.

Dr Sheykhzade’s research has been helped by a long-standing and fruitful collaboration with a range of researchers that includes Professor Lars Edvinsson, wo is the Director of the Glostrup Research Institute – Rigshospitalet and his team, as well as two of the Institute’s key Senior Researchers: Dr Anette Sams and Dr Kristian Agmund Haanes.

To date, Dr Sheykhzade has almost 100 papers published in peer-reviewed reputed international scientific journals (such as the British Journal of Pharmacology), as well as several book chapters.  As an advocate for the importance of research, he is dedicated to nurturing the next generation of scientific leaders. He also plays a leadership role in the scientific community, providing his time to help advance scientific research and discovery. His community work includes presenter, organizer, and chair of scientific meetings, he is a full member of British Pharmacological Society (BPS), Scandinavian Physiological Society (SPS), and Danish Heart Association.

The start of Dr Sheykhzade’s career 
In the 1990s, Dr Sheykhzade’s early tertiary education and work experience gave him an understanding and insight into science in the public and private sectors. He obtained a Masters MSc in Pharmacy from the Royal Danish School of Pharmacy, worked at Bispebjerg Hospital Pharmacy, the French pharmaceutical company IPSEN Scandinavia A/S and later in a medical department monitoring clinical trials.

In 1996, his growing passion for scientific research led to a 4 year self-financing Ph.D. at the University of Copenhagen. He was able to apply for and attract grants, a skill that he still applies for emerging research. He studied under Prof. Niels Chresten Berg Nyborg, who “introduced me to the fascinating and interesting field of vascular physiology and pharmacology”.

How DMT Myograph systems fuelled Dr Sheykhzade’s research
Dr Sheykhzade started using DMT Myograph systems to control and study isolated organ activity and contraction. In addition to using tissue from various rodents, he has also used human subcutaneous resistance arteries. The extensive range of studies includes measuring intracellular calcium concentration using a single chamber myograph system and fluorescence microscopy.

Dr Sheykhzade describes the DMT Myographs as fundamental to his research, “DMT myographs are everything to my work. I have succeeded in reaching important milestones in my studies on vascular tone in health and disease by using these robust, reliable organ baths. It happens often that scientific results published in well-reputed journals with high impact factors such as Nature are hardly reproducible by other investigators or laboratories. “My results using myographs are reproducible, it has been proven more than once.”

“One of the great advantages of the myograph setup is that it can be easily adapted or modified in order to answer many scientific questions. For example, it can be used for electrical field stimulation, placed on the stage of inverted microscope for measurement of intracellular calcium, and used for studying contractions in bladder smooth muscle strips.”

Experiments that develop critical thinking
Dr Sheykhzade introduced the 4-channel wire myograph systems for studying in-vitro techniques in pharmacology to the Master’s program. To date, he has supervised approximately 60 Master students as well as 15 PhD students.
“I have used myographs in the teaching of both bachelor and Master students with great success. My students love to work with isolated arteries. They enthusiastically add compounds to the myograph baths, record the effects and perform the concentration-response curves.

“The myography technique encourages students to be proactive and ask critical questions during experiments. My students become familiar with pitfalls and important tricks when conducting in-vitro experiments with isolated organs. They become skilled at interpreting data, making conclusions, and troubleshooting problems, “said Dr Sheykhzade.
Dr Sheykhzade’s commitment to teaching and helping new scientists has led to faculty awards and nominations, including two times winner of the best teacher of the year.

Future directions in research and education
Continuing his scientific endeavors, Dr Sheykhzade currently investigates 1) the role of calcitonin gene-related peptides in the pathophysiology of migraine and 2) the role of formyl peptide receptors (FPRs), toll-like receptors (TLR2 and TLR4) in the development of atherosclerosis. He also looks at vasomotor activity, calcium handling, and metabolism in arteries isolated from different vascular beds of type 2 diabetic mice and rats. Dr Sheykhzade plans to help set up Ph.D. and postdoc projects to conduct investigations on these research projects.

“I am working to uncover the complex mechanism behind the inflammatory process that leads to vascular inflammation, atherosclerosis, and ischemia in diabetic patients, especially those with type II diabetes. The key players involved in this inflammatory process are indeed potential targets for drug intervention, and the information obtained from the study will hopefully help early diagnosis and improve the treatment of these patients.

“My research at the University of Copenhagen continues to excite me, and DMT myographs are playing an important part. The myographs are cited in 95% of my publications, and there are many more papers ahead. I also want to keep helping young people to find their research passion. We still have many questions to answer.”

Pirfenidone Is a Vasodilator: Involvement of KV7 Channels in the Effect on Endothelium-Dependent Vasodilatation in Type-2 Diabetic Mice.
Beck L, Pinilla E, Arcanjo DDR, Hernanz R, Prat-Duran J, Petersen AG, Köhler R, Sheykhzade M, Comerma-Steffensen S, Simonsen U. Front Pharmacol. 2021 Jan 12;11:619152. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2020.619152. eCollection 2020. PMID: 33643042

Effect of increased potassium intake on the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and subcutaneous resistance arteries: a randomized crossover study.
Dreier R, Abdolalizadeh B, Asferg CL, Hölmich LR, Buus NH, Forman JL, Andersen UB, Egfjord M, Sheykhzade M, Jeppesen JL. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2020 Dec 6:gfaa292. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfaa292. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33280043

Endothelial Dysfunction and Passive Changes in the Aorta and Coronary Arteries of Diabetic db/db Mice.
Beck L, Su J, Comerma-Steffensen S, Pinilla E, Carlsson R, Hernanz R, Sheykhzade M, Danielsen CC, Simonsen U. Front Physiol. 2020 Jun 23;11:667. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2020.00667. eCollection 2020. PMID: 32655412

Fluorescent Analogues of Human α-Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide with Potent Vasodilator Activity.
Zhu J, Pedersen MD, Ahmed LS, Abdolalizadeh B, Grell AS, Berg JO, Thulstrup PW, Franzyk H, Edvinsson L, Sams A, Sheykhzade M, Hansen PR. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Feb 17;21(4):1343. doi: 10.3390/ijms21041343. PMID: 32079247.

Hypermetabolism and impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilation in mesenteric arteries of type 2 diabetes mellitus db/db mice.
Arildsen L, Andersen JV, Waagepetersen HS, Nissen JBD, Sheykhzade M. Diab Vasc Dis Res. 2019 Nov;16(6):539-548. doi: 10.1177/1479164119865885. Epub 2019 Jul 31. PMID: 31364402

C-fibers may modulate adjacent Aδ-fibers through axon-axon CGRP signaling at nodes of Ranvier in the trigeminal system.
Edvinsson JCA, Warfvinge K, Krause DN, Blixt FW, Sheykhzade M, Edvinsson L, Haanes KA.J Headache Pain. 2019 Nov 12;20(1):105. doi: 10.1186/s10194-019-1055-3.PMID: 31718551

By Helen Inkson Communications Manager |DMT-APAC

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