Fun facts about the faculty: Jens Christian Skou

On October 8, the faculty's all-time superstar Jens Christian Skou would have turned 104 years old. As a Health employee, you can probably recite in your sleep that Skou won the Nobel Prize in 1997 for his discovery of the sodium-potassium pump, but did you know that…

Photo: Søren Kjeldgaard, AU Foto
  • … 20,000 beach crabs lost their lives in Skou's laboratory? Skou conducted his biomedical research on beach crabs from Kattegat, which he had delivered by a fisherman from south of Aarhus. Each experiment required 20 crabs to be separated, boiled, centrifuged and analyzed. This meant going through a total of 200 crabs per week, which reportedly gave the entire department a characteristic smell.   
  • ... a commemorative plaque in Skou’s honour hangs in the yard at Lemvig Gymnasium? Jens Chr. Skou was born in Lemvig, and on his 80th birthday in 1998 he was named an honorary citizen there. In fact, Skou never went to Lemvig gymnasium, because it didn't exist when he was a young man. Instead, he got his diploma from Haslev Gymnasium. But no need to nitpick about details - for example, Skou also won the Nobel Prize in chemistry without being a trained chemist.
  • ... Skou published his last scientific article at the age of 96? He officially retired in 1988, but kept his office at the university, where he continued to take an active part in research at the department as professor emeritus until 2015, where his last article was published. Skou's office, which he resided in for more than 40 years, was moved and recreated 1:1 at the Steno Museum, where it is part of the exhibition 'Science is passion'. It is the only preserved office of a Nobel Laureate.

BONUS: Watch Skou's last interview

The last video interview with Jens Chr. Skou was recorded at the award ceremony of the very first Skou award in 2016, which went to Trine Mogensen. In addition to Mogensen’s research, two things particularly pleased and impressed Skou about the award recipient. Just watch (in Danish  only):


  • Steno Museum: The exhibition ’Videnskab er lidenskab’
  • The book ”Videnskab er lidenskab – med forskere på arbejde”, edited by Morten Arnika Skydsgaard and Kristian Hvidtfelt Nielsen, Aarhus Universitetsforlag