1981  M.Sc. Civil Engineering (Chemistry), Technical University of Denmark.
1986 Ph.D. Technical University of Denmark.

Professional career

  1982  Scientific Employee Technical University of Denmark, Institute for Microbiology.
  1985 Assistant Professor Department of Life Sciences and Chemistry, Roskilde University
  1989  Visiting Scientist Tufts Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  1989  Associate Professor Department of Life Sciences and Chemistry, Roskilde University
  1993 - 2000 Director of the Biology Program Roskilde University



My research interests are within 1) control of DNA replication in bacteria, 2) prokaryotic gene regulation and molecular genetics, 3) molecular evolution and 4) bioinformatics.

A bacteria needs to sense when to start its duplication of the chromosomal DNA, so that two full chromosomes are ready, when the cell divides into two daughter cells. In fast growing bacteria duplication may take more than two doubling times, so it is actually the grand-grand mother cell that starts the chromosomes for the newborn bacterial cell.

The central actor in sensing when to start DNA replication is the DnaA protein, which I have studied in E. coli and in other bacteria. Recently I have started to study the control of DNA replication in Vibrio cholerae. V. cholerae has two chromosomes in contrast to related bacteria which only have one chromosome. For instance I will study how the control of the main chromosome linked to the control of the other. This study will be in collaboration with Anders Løbner-Olesen.

Recently I have become engaged in Next-Generation sequencing and I have developed a simple and very sensitive program for detection of mutations and InDels in experiments based on resequencing with the Illumina GAII platform and similar data. See R2R: From Reads to Results and recent publications.


Apart from giving standard lectures and experimental courses in molecular genetics I have been devoted to teach in:

Gene Technology

I developed this course while arriving at this university. The teaching strategy was to make the student identify herself as a researcher rather than a piece of cattle. The method for this was that the DNA isolated on day one was the source of all results obtained during the course. Thus all failed experiments had to be repeated until sufficient material/results were available to continue. During this process the student learned to plan experiments, work efficiently, identify, solve, and prevent errors and work independently. This course was kept day long for two or three weeks. This course was kept for the last time in March 2003.


During my research I have become interested in how the computer could assist me in analyzing various questions. A few students admired that and a hands-on computer course exploring resources for sequence analysis was created mainly to support project work (see below). When the net appeared this became the media for the instruments and the manuals of this course. This course will now be developed into a regular course and a co-operation with DIS will make the course available to Danish and international students. The course aims to give the biology student experience and training in using bioinformatics for solving problems. I will train the student through hands-on experience and will focus on using available resources rather than creating resources. The biology student may hereafter seek further specializing in developing bioinformatics resources - by obtaining skills in mathematics, statistics and programming - or use the bioinformatics in conjugation with a specialization in biology. Find the Bionformatics course page here.

Project work

A leading teaching strategy at this university is the "Problem Oriented Project Work in Groups", which means that all students throughout their study spends approximately half of their study time by studying a problem defined - or at least chosen - by themselves. In their first years the methods are mainly information searching, reading of secondary and primary literature supported by textbooks and perhaps simple experiments. Later primary literature and more advanced experiments become dominating and the possible problems becomes more linked to the research of the advisor.

This emphasis on project work reduces the requirements for very specialized courses as each student specializes during the project work.

Guiding the enthusiastic students in their exploration of the unknown may be a very fruitful experience!

      Member of the research group:
"Molecular and General Physiology"


Recent Publications

Val ME, Skovgaard O, Ducos-Galand M, Bland MJ, Mazel D.
Genome Engineering in Vibrio cholerae: A Feasible Approach to Address Biological Issues.
PLoS Genet. (2012) 8:e1002472.
Skovgaard O, Bak M, Løbner-Olesen A, Tommerup N.
Genome-wide detection of chromosomal rearrangements, indels, and mutations in circular chromosomes by short read sequencing.
Genome Res. (2011) 21:1388-93.
Charbon G, Riber L, Cohen M, Skovgaard O, Fujimitsu K, Katayama T, Løbner-Olesen A.
Suppressors of DnaA(ATP) imposed overinitiation in Escherichia coli.
Mol Microbiol. (2011) 79:914-28.
Rahn-Lee L, Gorbatyuk B, Skovgaard O, Losick R.
The conserved sporulation protein YneE inhibits DNA replication in Bacillus subtilis.
J. Bacteriol. (2009) 191:3736-9.
Rasmussen T, Jensen RB, Skovgaard O.
The two chromosomes of Vibrio cholerae are initiated at different time points in the cell cycle.
EMBO J (2007) 26:3124-31.
Nordman J, Skovgaard O, Wright A.
A novel class of mutations that affect DNA replication in E. coli.
Mol Microbiol. (2007) 64:125-138.
Duigou S, Knudsen KG, Skovgaard O, Egan ES, Løbner-Olesen A, Waldor MK.
Independent control of replication initiation of the two Vibrio cholerae chromosomes by DnaA and RctB.
J Bacteriol. (2006) 188:6419-24.
Riber L, Olsson JA, Jensen RB, Skovgaard O, Dasgupta S, Marinus MG, Løbner-Olesen A.
Hda-mediated inactivation of the DnaA protein and dnaA gene autoregulation act in concert to ensure homeostatic maintenance of the Escherichia coli chromosome.
Genes Dev. (2006) 20:2121-34
Lobner-Olesen A, Skovgaard O, Marinus MG.
Dam methylation: coordinating cellular processes.
Curr Opin Microbiol. (2005) 8:154-60.
Skovgaard O, Lobner-Olesen A.
Reduced initiation frequency from oriC restores viability of a temperature-sensitive Escherichia coli replisome mutant.
Microbiology. (2005) 151:963-73.