The name PUMPKIN may suggest a research centre focused on American Halloween traditions or the investigation of the growth of vegetables – however this would be misleading. Researchers at PUMPKIN, short for Centre for Membrane Pumps in Cells and Disease, are in fact interested in a large family of membrane proteins: P-type ATPase pumps. This article takes the reader on a tour from Aarhus to Copenhagen, from bacteria to plants and humans, and from ions over protein structures to diseases caused by malfunctioning pump proteins. The magazine Nature once titled work published from PUMPKIN ‘Pumping ions’. Here we illustrate that the pumping of ions means nothing less than the pumping of life.