Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences

Staff Profile

Dr Soren Nielsen

Research Associate



Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects 150 million people worldwide of which 5 million are in Europe and 500,000 in the UK.
I have worked with HCV at Newcastle University since 1997 and found that HCV circulates in blood associated with very low density lipoprotein (VLDL). These lipid particles are naturally secreted by the human liver to distribute triglyceride and cholesterol to organs and muscles in the body. HCV hijacks this pathway to produce HCV associated with apolipoproteins A-I, A-II, B, C-I and E. In patients with chronic HCV we have found immunoglobulins IgA, IgG1, IgG3 and IgM on the virus.


I have international experience from working as postdoctoral assistant in Germany and in Minnesota and Texas, USA. The knowledge I have obtained from working abroad benefits me every day, both when dealing with people and when making decissions and designing experiments in the laboratory.

Roles and Responsibilities

Within the Institute for Cellular Medicine I am responsible for my own research project. It is up to me to produce good papers and get these accepted in international scientifice journals. It is also my responsibility to present our research at national and international research meetings.


Ph.D in Biochemistry from University of Munster in Germany, 1993
Masters Degree in Biochemsitry from Aarhus University, Denmark, 1988
Masters Degree in Accounting from Business School Aarhus, Denmark, 1987
Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and Physics from Aarhus University, Denmark, 1985

Previous Positions

Research assistant at Aarhus University in Denmark from 1987 to 1988 (2 years)
Ph.D student at Munster University in Germany from 1989 to 1993 (4 years)
Postdoctoral assistant at University of Minnesota, USA from 1993 to 1995 (3 years)
Postdoctoral assistant at Texas A & M University, USA in 1996 (1/2 year)
Postdoctoral fellow at Newcastle University, England from 1997 to present (11 years)


I am member of the following scientific societies:
British Association for the Study of the Liver (BASL)
Society for General Microbiology (SGM)
American association for the advancement of Science (AAAS)
American Society for Microbiology

Honours and Awards

In September 2005 I received the Philip Hague Award from British Association (BASL) for the Study of the Liver for the best Abstract submitted to BASL in the field of viral hepatitis.


I speak and write danish, german and english

Informal Interests

I have run the Great North Run in Newcastle 10 times now.
I have run the London Marathon, Edinburgh Marathon and Manchester Marathon 2 times each. I keep an allotment at Nunsmoor in Fenham, Newcastle.
I enjoy playing with my son, Daniel and enjoy the Weekends, Christmas and Easter Holidays that we spend together.


Research Interests

My expertise is density gradient ultracentrifugation and FPLC techniques. I am experienced in 1-D and 2-D gel electrophoresis and Western blotting. I have experience in molecular biology techniques and real time PCR. I have combined the use of these methods to analyse the density profile of Hepatitis C virus from human serum and liver.

Other Expertise

I have worked with a cytosolic protein from human heart which binds long chain fatty acids. I have also worked with fatty acid binding to human serum albumin. While working in the USA as a postdoc, I identified a membrane bound enzyme which was later found to transfer long chain fatty acids across cell membranes.
While working with Dr. Edward Routledge at Newcastle University I gained knowledge in working with monoclonal antibodies and protein expression. We prepared a humanized monoclonal antibody and I did cross linking studies to improve the efficiency of the antibody in target cell killing.

Current Work

Currently, I am a Wellcome Trust postdoctoral fellow working on Hepatitis C virus. I purify and characterize Hepatitis C virus from infected human liver. We have found the virus associates with very low density lipoprotein, VLDL. I am using the Electron Microscopy Unit at Newcastle University to obtain pictures of the HCV virus from density fractions and from size fractionated samples. These are samples from an HCV infected human liver with a very high titre of HCV. I have also purified HCV lipo viro-particles from human liver by density gradients and by gel filtration. We have found the virus is associated with apolipoproteins A-II, B, These associations with host apolipoproteins and antibodies may explain why Hepatitis C virus infection in chronic in more than 80% of infected people.

Future Research

I have been funded by the Wellcome Trust in London for 4 out of the last 6 years. During 2 years, from 2003 to 2005 my work was funded by my supervisor, Prof. Geoffrey Toms. The current funding ends in January 2009 and we have applied for a new project grant from The Wellcome Trust. The goal of my current research is to purify and characterize HCV lipo viro-particles from HCV infected human liver.

Research Roles

I July 2006 I became Principal Investigator on our Wellcome Trust grant. This implies that I am responsible for the progress of the research project and also responsible for the project report. My aim is to succeed with this research project. So far, two papers have been published from this work, in Journal of Virology and in Journal of General Virology.
My co-applicants are Prof. Geoffrey Toms, Prof. Margaret Bassendine and Dr. Dermot Neely. I am thankfull for the support I have received from Newcastle University. I use the research facilities provided by the University, the Pinnacle for protein identification, Electron Microscopy Unit and Audio Visual Centre.

Postgraduate Supervision

From September 2002 to July 2005 I have co-supervised Ph.D student Caroline Martin in collaboration with Dr. Geoffrey Toms. From May 2005 I am co-supervisor for Ph.D student Siti Ibrahim.

Esteem Indicators

I was invited to give an oral presentation at the annual meeting in British Association for Study of the Liver (BASL) in September 2005. At the meeting at Kings College in London, I received the Philip Hague Award from BASL for the best abstract submitted to the annual meeting in the field of viral hepatitis.
I was invited to give an oral presentation at the annual meeting in BASL in September 2006 in Dublin.
I have been invited to give a 45 minutes seminar in January 2007 at the Institute Pasteur Hellenique in Athens, Greece. This is an honour for me which I am proud of. It has come because I initiated a collaboration with Dr. Penelope Mavromara at the Institute on Hepatitis C protein NS5A. The institute pays travel and accomodation and I will do my best to present our work.


While at Newcastle University I have been co-applicant with Prof. Geoffrey Toms as Principal Investigator. Two of these grant applications have been succesfull and I am currently working on the second grant we have obtained from the Wellcome Trust.

Industrial Relevance

Our group is collaborating with Innogenetics in Ghent, Belgium, which has provided us with 24 monoclonal antibodies to envelope glycoproteins of HCV. We have used the antibodies in Western blotting and immunofluorescence. The characterization of these antibodies is of value to us because it give us good reagents for use in research and it is of value to the compagny because it improve their knowledge about the monoclonal antibodies.


2-D electrophoresis. Density gradients. FPLC. Hepatitis C virus.
Molecular biology. Lipid analysis. Western blotting. Real time PCR. Lipid analysis. Cholestrol, phospholipid, triglyceride measurement


Undergraduate Teaching

I have supervised three project students.
Sarah Stevenson for 2 months in 2003
Barnabas J. King for 2 months in 2005
Kerry Brown for 2 months in 2006

Postgraduate Teaching

I supervised M.Res student Paul J. Purcell from February 2008 to July 2008. He received a Merit in his degree.
I supervised M.Res student Daniel Lowther from February 2007 to July 2007. He received a Distinction in his degree.
I help in the supervision of Ph.D student Siti Ibrahim. Prof. Geoffrey Toms is her Ph.D supervisor.
Between 2003 and 2005 I helped in the supervision of Ph.D student Caroline Martin, now Dr. Caroline Martin. Prof. Geoffrey Toms was her Ph.D supervisor.