Finding solutions we could not find on our own

Already as a medical student, Professor Jonel Trebicka was fascinated by the challenge of liver diseases. This course has not changed, and today he associated to OUH and SDU as adjunct professor in the Department of Gastrointestinal and liver diseases. Allow us to present him and his points of view in a field with a lot of challenges.

jonel og linda 2About yourself, your background and step towards your present career and research
To begin with the beginning I am born in Albania, and due to the profession of my father, my family moved several times to German speaking countries and therefore I was raised in Albania, Austria and Germany. In Bonn I studied medicine, and early I had some exchange with Barcelona, which is one of the leading centers in the field of liver diseases and especially in end-stage liver disease (cirrhosis), which really is a challenge for the health care.

So as a matter of fact I found the liver very interesting to study already as a student. The reason is that it is a central organ, and the outcome of cirrhosis is really bad compared to other chronic diseases. That I learned during my first years in the intensive care unit, where I saw a lot of patients. And I have learned it as being a liver surgeon later in Barcelona. This field is neglected for many years and will always require work and research to be done. The last is necessary if we want to improve the treatment of these patients.

How and when did you establish the cooperation with SDU/OUH?
I did my PhD in Copenhagen. Professor Aleksander Krag (Department of Gastrointestinal and liver diseases, OUH, red.) was one of my supervisors. During my PhD I initiated a clinical trial, which was published last year. So this was the start, and you may say that he invited me to Odense. Today I am co-supervisor for one of his fellows. For me our cooperation has enriched my work, not because of the technique, more due to the discussions, which allow us to see the challenges of liver diseases from different angles. It is really rewarding.

The steps forward, since the beginning of the cooperation
When I finished in Copenhagen and was back in Bonn, Aleksander and I established cooperation between the labs in Odense and the lab in Bonn. We have difference facilities and skills, which help us to do our work, and it is very useful for both parts.
And like I was supervised by Aleksander, I am now supervising some of his fellows, Maria Kjærgaard and Linda Møller, who have visited me in the lab in Bonn. In addition I have projects with several others in the team – and it is a great pleasure.
Together we have written 15 papers in top journals of the field (Gastroenterology IF: 18.187, Gut IF: 14.921, J Hepatology IF: 10.590) during the last years, so indeed we have a lot of common projects, which we see from different sides and with different skills.

How do you support the Odense-research?
My network consists of consultants and specialists in the liver area in different centers in Europe. And I would say that I support Odense with a clinical data, animal-studies, samples from patients who receive a stent in their liver to treat complications of cirrhosis, knowledge and experience – besides of a good cooperation spirit – I hope.
And actually now I am the principal investigator of the PREDICT study in Barcelona based EF Clif – The European Foundation for the Study of Chronic Liver Failure. This study, including more than 50 centers in Europe and 1200 patients, might be crucial for the management of liver diseases.
And as a member of the steering committee of EFCLIF, I took the opportunity to recommend and involve Aleksander Krag in EFCLIF in Barcelona, where we have 90 European hospitals as our partners and together we run a number of trials.

Experience and advantages?
Again I have to bring in Aleksander. He always says, that if you want excellence, you have to focus, to pick excellent people. You cannot do it by yourself, because no one is excellent in all areas.
More tangible the relation has made it possible for me to store a lot of samples in the bio-bank here in Odense – a very nice facility for me to use.

In conclusion I would like to point out that the support goes both ways – it is a mutual cooperation built by boxes with different expertise. Besides that we have common partners, which are the glue in our work. The result is outstanding, not least at the personal level. We all speak the same language. We deliver what we say, we deliver, and together we find solutions, which we never would be able to find on our own.

The Danes, the culture?
I am in Odense several times a year and of course I have a lot of mail exchange with all my collaborators here.  I must say – of my own free will – that I am very fond of the Danes and my colleagues here. They are open-minded, unformal, nice and friendly. And our work is uncomplicated – it is very easy to kick-off things here. Contrary to many other places in the world, the first word here is often a yes!
In fact the Danes have a lot to be proud of; the design, the porcelain – and the cheese. The last is very important for me to bring back home to my Spanish father in law.

Professor Jonel Trebicka er 40 år.
Principal investigator of EF Clif – European Foundation for the study of chronic liver failure.