Claus Desler obtained his PhD in 2009 with a focus on bioenergetics and nucleotide metabolism. He continued his career as Post Doc at Center for Healthy Aging at University of Copenhagen, becoming an Assistant Professor in 2012 and an Associate Professor in 2018. During this time, Claus conducted aging research under a grant from the Nordea Fonden. Since 2024 Claus Desler is leading his group at Department of Biomedical Sciences at University of Copenhagen with support from EU Horizon 2020. Furthermore, Claus is leading an EU research network consisting of 10 European partners focusing on COVID-19’s long-term effects on kidney, heart, and lung health

Research profile

Aging is not a disease; however, it stands as the most significant risk factor for prevalent diseases in developed countries. Understanding the mechanisms of aging enhances the comprehensions of these diseases, aiding in identifying reliable biomarkers and therapeutic targets. We use approaches at the cellular level to identify and quantify senescence markers, to measure key metabolic factors, and to assess mitochondrial function and nucleotide metabolism to get a deep and thorough understanding of molecular aging.

Desler group aims to unravel the regulatory role of mitochondrial function in immune activation and immunosenescence. In elderly, an aging immune system is linked to increased risk of infection, chronic inflammatory disorders, vaccination failure, and reduced ability to remove senescent cells in the organism.

Main research questions:

  • How are immune cells regulated by mitochondrial bioenergetics and nucleotide metabolism?
  • What are the factors regulating immunosenescence?
  • What are the mechanisms responsible for premature aging?
  • What is the interplay between the immune system and senescent cells?
  • Can age-related diseases be prevented by improved function of the immune system?

Furthermore, immunotherapy of cancer is an extremely successful treatment of a long range of cancers, but presence of exhausted / aging immune cells accounts strongly for a reduced probability of success. This aging phenotype of the immune system is in many cases linked to impaired mitochondrial function and oxidative phosphorylation. Modulation of oxidative phosphorylation is therefore a very attractive target for revitalization of exhausted immune cells, used in immunotherapies and to improve the immune system in the elderly.

Recognizing the complexity of aging, we acknowledge that a monodisciplinary approach falls short. Therefore, we actively pursue interdisciplinary collaborations with behavioral scientists, socio-economic scientists, physicians, and clinicians. These collaborations span diverse projects, including immune function, kidney disease, cardiovascular diseases, lung diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and others.

Positions and training

2024 – Present. Principal Investigator Desler group – Endocrinology and metabolism. Dept. of Biomedical Sciences. University of Copenhagen

2018 – 2023. Associate Professor. Center for Healthy Aging. University of Copenhagen


  • EU Horizon Coordinator for the “POINT” project
  • Outreach activities for the European Immunometabolism Network 
  • Co-Chair: 1st European ImmunoMetabolism Conference

Selected links


UCPH profile