DDEA Award Recipient Jordi Merino Wants to Leave a Lasting Impact with His Genetics Research

Posted on 31.01.2024

Jordi Merino receives a DDEA Early-Career Researcher Award 2024

”I want to do something transformative that can help people for generations to come.”

This is the mission of Jordi Merino, 40, who has just received a DDEA Early-Career Researcher Award 2024. Starting his research in Spain, Merino studied nutrition and metabolism in the context of cardiometabolic diseases, before moving to Boston to do a postdoc in genetic epidemiology of diabetes and cardiovascular disease at Massachusetts General Hospital. After several promotions and awards, Jordi Merino was recruited as an Associate Professor and Group Leader at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR), where he leads the Genomics and Precision Medicine in the Merino Group.

For his highly promising career track and his notable contributions to research in diabetes prevention and care, Jordi Merino now receives a DDEA Early-Career Researcher Award in the field of diabetes.

”It means a lot to win this award. I am very grateful to the DDEA, the Award Committee, and the person who nominated me, my director, Juleen R. Zierath,” says Jordi Merino.

Investigating the Interplay Between Lifestyle and Genetics

It was Jordi Merino’s innate curiosity as well as his wish to help people that led him to research how to mitigate diabetes and related cardiovascular disease through a focus on genomics and population health.

”One of the best ways to understand how the body works is by understanding how genetics work, and how genes are regulated,” says Jordi Merino.

Through his research, Jordi Merino seeks to advance enhanced therapeutic strategies for preventing and managing type 2 diabetes and related metabolic complications. This includes investigating not just internal factors, but external ones as well.

”I am trying to integrate genetic and downstream molecular effectors with behavioural and environmental factors to understand why people develop diabetes, and what they can do to prevent it. My mission is to try to prevent or even help eradicate diabetes in the future through a better understanding of the pathophysiology mechanisms and what drives the disease,” Jordi Merino explains.

The field of precision medicine, medicine tailored to individual patients” needs, is moving fast in line with technological advances, Jordi Merino comments.

”We are in a kind of golden era of biomedicine right now, with emerging technologies and a deeper understanding of the field, which has evolved significantly from what it was just 30 or 40 years ago,” says Jordi Merino. ”We are now able to generate knowledge and methods that will greatly change and benefit future patient care and disease prevention.”

Jordi Merino is also co-leading another ambitious study, the Danish Health Precision Initiative. The goal is to advance the understanding of how individuals transition from a healthy state to the onset of cardiometabolic diseases by enrolling 10,000 individuals for deep phenotyping. The study is still in the planning stages.

Coming to Denmark

Besides being recruited as a Group Leader at CBMR in Copenhagen, Jordi Merino mentions how the Danish Diabetes and Endocrine Academy (DDEA) was instrumental in his decision to move to Denmark in 2022.

”DDEA actually influenced my decision to transition to Denmark. Due to a collaborative project in 2018 between my former institution in Boston and CBMR scientists, I discovered the DDEA newsletter promoting all these extraordinary activities. It was such a source of inspiration. I thought that Denmark seemed to have a strong research community in this field – and I have since been proven right,” says Jordi Merino.

Leading Other Curious Minds

Since 2022, Jordi Merino has been leading his own research group, the Merino Group, at CBMR, focusing on genomics and precision medicine research.

”It is very enriching and rewarding to work with other early-career researchers who are enthusiastic and willing to give so much of themselves to understand human biology better,” says Jordi Merino. ”I think of the advice my mentor in Boston gave me when I told him I was leaving for Denmark to lead a group; he suggested recruiting people that were just as curious as me, so that is what I am currently doing.”

The motivation behind dedicating yourself to work like this, as Jordi Merino mentions, comes not just from curiosity; it mostly comes from the wish to help people.

”We do not work for the money. Typically, this career entails a lot of work outside the office, a lot of thinking and brainstorming, and a lot of commitment. And we do all that because we are curious, yes, but mainly because we want to help people. It is also about legacy, and the things you can accomplish that can help society and help people are the things that will last,” says Jordi Merino.

DDEA’s Managing Director, Tore Christiansen, on Jordi Merino:

The fact that Jordi chose to leave a prestigious position in Boston and come to Denmark to establish his own research group is a great asset to the Danish research community. Jordi is a source of inspiration for other earlycareer researchers with his persistence, curiosity, and altruism as his driving force. I am also confident that this driving force will come into play in advancing the very ambitious Danish Health Precision Initiative. We are very excited that the Award Committee chose Jordi among the many talented nominees, and we look forward to inviting him back to new DDEA educational activities in the years to come.

The DDEA Early-Career Researcher Awards

This award recognises excellence, innovation, passion, and commitment to Danish diabetes and classical endocrine research. The DDEA Early-Career Researcher Awards are presented to two individual early-career researchers (from Danish research institutions) who each have shown promising research and great potential to be world-class researchers within their fields of expertise and who each has made an important contribution to the understanding and treatment of diabetes and classical endocrine diseases. The winners each receive 25,000 DKK. Read more about the award.

Jordi Merino was nominated by Juleen R. Zierath, Professor of Clinical Integrative Physiology, Karolinska Institutet and Executive Director at Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research.

About Jordi Merino

Spanish-born researcher Jordi Merino has a background in nutrition and metabolism from Barcelona University. He did PhD training on subclinical atherosclerosis and lipid metabolism at Rovira i Virgili University, as well as two years of clinical training at Sant Joan Hospital. Jordi Merino went on to do a postdoc in genetic epidemiology of diabetes and cardiovascular disease at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). In 2018, Jordi Merino was promoted to Research Associate at MGH and Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medicine School. Jordi Merino moved to Denmark in 2022 when he was recruited as an Associate Professor and Group Leader at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research. There, Jordi Merino leads the research group, Genomics and Precision Medicine in the Merino Group. As of 2021, Merino serves as an Associate Editor for the journal Diabetologia. Merino has received several accolades for his research, such as the Levine-Riggs Young Investigator Scientific Achievement Award, and the Outstanding Manuscript Award from the Nutrition and Obesity Research Center at Harvard.


Jordi Merino
Associate Professor, Group Leader of the Merino Group, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research
+45 51 42 40 55

Danish Diabetes and Endocrine Academy
Tore S. Christiansen
Managing Director
+45 29 64 67 64

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