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15 Health researchers receive midwife help towards an ERC grant

15 Health researchers receive midwife help towards an ERC grantThis month, fifteen Health researchers begin work on transforming their good, but not yet fully fledged, ideas into ERC applications. A task that can be a bit of a mouthful – so each one is therefore receiving a newly developed help package together with DKK 100,000 from the Dean's Office.

The hope is to free up the chosen researchers and also to gain some experience that can benefit all the faculty's researchers, says Ole Steen Nielsen, who is Vice-dean for Research. Photo: Lars Kruse, AU.

Six researchers from Biomedicine, five clinicians, three odontologists and a public health researcher are about to begin work on a task which Health is supporting both qualitatively and financially with DKK 1.5 million.

The money – DKK 100,000 per researcher – can be administered by the researchers as they see fit. The only requirement from the Dean’s Office is that in no more than two years, and preferably sooner, the researchers apply for one of the prestigious ERC grants – and that they along the way, they make use of the accompanying 'help package' in the form of an ERC development programme which has been developed by the Research Support Unit in collaboration with the Dean's Office.

"The fifteen researchers have been selected from a strong field of 25 applicants, and it has been very important for the Dean's Office to not only honour extensive CVs and long lists of publications," says Vice-dean for Research, Ole Steen Nielsen. He points out that an ERC Starting Grant can be applied for with just two years of experience in continuation of the PhD degree programme if the idea has – or can be developed to have – the required calibre.

"It is, among other things. in relation to developing ideas for projects that the ERC development programme and the DKK 100,000 must now show their worth," says Ole Steen Nielsen.

Who received the money and what are they researching?

The fifteen researchers and their preliminary grant topics can be seen in the list below, where the topics are reproduced as the titles received by Inside Health from the Dean's Office. The recipients are listed randomly and divided into the three types of grant:

Starting Grants:

  • Assistant Professor Maria Andreasen, 35 years old, Department of Biomedicine: Understanding of the molecular mechanism dominating protein self-assembly.
  • Associate Professor Mohit Kothari, 35, Department of Clinical Medicine: Joining DOTs to DO-THAT: A Multidisciplinary approach.
  • Professor Søren Dinesen Østergaard, 37, Department of Clinical Medicine: Closing the mortality gap in mental illness.
  • Postdoc Simple Futarmal Kothari, 35, Department of Dentistry and Oral Health: From pain in the face to perceptual distortion: Exploring mechanisms and novel treatment strategies.
  • Assistant Professor Qi Wu, 31, Department of Biomedicine: Biomarker discovery in urinary exosomes.
  • Associate Professor Asger Andersen, 38, Department of Clinical Medicine: Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension.
  • Associate Professor Peter Agger, 34, Department of Clinical Medicine: Cardiac Metabolism as a New Diagnostic Target in Heart Failure.

Consolidator Grants:

  • Associate Professor Martin Roelsgaard Jakobsen, 39, Department of Biomedicine: Understanding STING signaling and innate immune responses in the pathway to tumorigenesis.
  • Associate Professor Keisuke Yonehara, 39, Department of Biomedicine: Visual motion processing from retina to visual cortical areas in the mouse.
  • Associate Professor Simon Glerup, 42, Department of Biomedicine: A systems biology approach for decoding the glycome – glycode.
  • Associate Professor Cecilia Ramlau-Hansen, 48, Department of Public Health: Children of future generations.
  • Associate Professor Lars Henning Pedersen, 44, Department of Clinical Medicine: Precision medicine in pregnancy.
  • Associate Professor Rubens Spin-Neto, 37, Department of Dentistry and Oral Health: Ionizing-radiation-free dentistry: dedicated dental magnetic resonance imaging for planning bone augmentation and implant-based orofacial rehabilitation and outcome monitoring.

Advanced Grants:

  • Professor Peter Svensson, 55, Department of Dentistry and Oral Health: Training Orofacial Function – from basic mechanisms to new management strategies
  • Professor Anders Nykjær, 55, Department of Biomedicine: Sortilin receptors - balancing synaptic strength and mood states.

Set the researcher free and find out what works

The new help package called the ERC development programme, is structured so that the programme supports the researchers both individually and in the groups that are working towards the same type of ERC applications. For as Ole Steen Nielsen points out, there is a big difference between applying for a starting grant and an advanced grant:

"The ERC development programme takes differences like this into account, which also explains why the DKK 100,000 can be used for everything from own salary, workload reduction for research colleagues, conferences or a stay at a monastery, that is to say a writing retreat, to work on one’s application," says Ole Steen Nielsen.

The hope is to free up the selected researchers and, seen from our viewpoint, to gain some experience that can benefit all the faculty's researchers. Our long-term goal is to change the way young research talents understand this area, so that 'the large grants’ become something that are both attractive and within reach, if you play your cards right," says Ole Steen Nielsen.

He finds only one thing disappointing about the award of the seed money, which is that relatively few women have applied for – and thus received – the DKK 100,000 of public funds for personal career support.

"The fifteen we have chosen reflect the group of applicants as a whole in terms of gender, so it’s definitely not the case that we have not selected female research talents. The modest number of female recipients is part of what is unfortunately a larger and well-known issue that’s going to need the long haul to change. See for example the desire for more female professors at Health," says Ole Steen Nielsen.

More about ERC grants

ERC (The European Research Council) awards a range of grants of various types to researchers who are employed at a European University. Health's help package of DKK 100,000 relates to the following grants:

  • Starting Grants awarded to promising junior research talents between two years and seven years after having obtained a PhD degree. Up to EUR 1.5 million is awarded to groundbreaking research projects over a five-year period.
  • Consolidator Grants awarded to promising junior research talents and research group leaders between two years and seven years after having obtained a PhD degree. Up to EUR 2 million is awarded to groundbreaking research projects over a five-year period.
  • Advanced Grants awarded to exceptional research group leaders who have already produced outstanding research results. Up to EUR 2,5 million is awarded to groundbreaking research projects over a five-year period.

The European Research Council has a budget of EUR 13 billion (2014-2020). It was founded in 2007 and is owned by the European Union.


Vice-dean for Research Ole Steen Nielsen
Email: osn@au.dk
Mobile: (+45) 2476 5093