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Health researcher part of a new open science project with the pharmaceutical industry

Researchers from Health, NAT and TECH are working with a number of international pharmaceutical manufacturers in a new open research collaboration that is making the data and results from the collaboration openly available free of charge. The Novo Nordisk Foundation is supporting the open science project with DKK 54.5 million.


The Open Discovery Innovation Network or ODIN is the name of the newly established research collaboration between Aarhus University and the pharmaceutical industry. In the network, the word 'innovation' covers both the way in which the researchers and companies work together and the results of their collaboration. The ambition is to utilise collective knowledge from all the researchers participating in the project and, in the long term, create innovation that benefits patients, industry and society.

Over the next three years, the ODIN collaboration will provide a space in which the participating researchers and companies can collaborate without the restrictive framework of the patent regulations. For example, they can focus their collaboration on the early phases of the development of new drugs, and generate shared knowledge that, although it may not be worth patenting, could become a building block in the development of future drugs.

The collaboration aims to lead to faster and more efficient pharmaceutical innovation globally by forging a strong foundation of basic knowledge and tools that everyone can access – and this includes competing companies.

Health researcher contributes with microscopy and cell culture systems

Associate Professor Lene N. Nejsum from the Department of Clinical Medicine, who is a member of the group behind the open science project application, is looking forward to engaging in an open research collaboration. She is ready to contribute her expertise in the field of in vitro cell culture systems and with the latest fluorescence microscopy techniques in the development of new knowledge which can lead to new screening systems and technological platforms.

"The open idea phase with many academic disciplines working together will mean that we can create better and more advanced projects. The results are shared openly, and this maximises the use of data and platforms, which will ultimately benefit the population. I see a unique opportunity to establish a collaboration with pharma companies and great benefit in being able to contribute as a researcher to the development of knowledge and technologies that many companies are looking for," says Lene N. Nejsum.

Everyone is welcome

In addition to Lene N. Nejsum, the application group included three other members from Health – associate professor Rikke Nørregaard from the Department of Clinical Medicine, associate professor Martin Roelsgaard Jakobsen from Department of Biomedicine and Martin Vesterby, director of INNO-X. The open science network currently comprises researchers from Health, Natural Sciences, Technical Sciences, as well as nine industrial partners, including Novo Nordisk A/S, LEO Pharma A/S, H. Lundbeck A/S, Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH and Nordic Bioscience A/S. However, all pharmaceutical companies are welcome to sign up for free.

"ODIN allows our researchers and businesses to collaborate on complex problems that they cannot handle on their own. The platform offers an opportunity to draw on many intellects from different disciplines and companies, so that we can quickly transfer methods known from a research field to new issues in another field, or find entirely new ways of examining 'old' challenges,” explains Marie Louise Conradsen, who is leading the ODIN project and is Head of Open Science at the NAT-TECH faculties.

The researchers are employed at Aarhus University and not in the ODIN project itself, and they participate voluntarily because of their academic interest. However, it is not a case of everyone doing whatever they want. A joint committee will assess each project before giving it the green light and funding, so that e.g. projects must not only benefit individual companies.

The DKK 54.5 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation will finance the administration of ODIN and the university's participation in the research projects for three years. The companies will contribute with e.g. technology, materials (such as screening libraries) and knowledge about automation etc.

Marie Louise Conradsen is setting up a secretariat with three employees, and she has tentatively started a tour of departments at the three faculties to “recruit” more researchers to the project.


PhD, Project Manager & Head of Open Science Marie Louise Conradsen
Aarhus University, The Nat-Tech Faculties
Tel.: (+45) 9350 8496
Email: mlco@au.dk