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Health researchers receive DKK 25 million towards interdisciplinary projects

Three research projects from Health receive funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s ‘Interdisciplinary Synergy’ programmes. The three projects receive a total of DKK 25 million and common to them all is that they cross professional boundaries in search of new solutions to concrete health challenges.

Research collaborations that cross disciplines, organizations and national borders. This is what the Novo Nordisk Foundations looks for when distributing funds in the ‘Interdisciplinary Synergy’ and ‘Exploratory Interdisciplinary Synergy’ programmes. In the latest round, 15 projects received a total of DKK 120 million – three of which originate at Health. 


A new method for assessing donor kidneys 

At the intersect between renal medicine nanotechnology, biology and advanced imaging, a group of researchers led by professor and consultant Bente Jespersen from the Department of Clinical Medicine aim to develop a new method for determining whether donor kidneys are sufficiently viable to ensure good results after transplantation. Focussing on kidneys from deceased donors, the researchers intend to analyse the kidneys using nanoscale biosensors, which emit a light signal if the kidney’s cells are alive. The hope is to ensure that only well-functioning kidneys are transplanted.

The project is supported with DKK five million from the Exploratory Interdisciplinary Synergy program.
The research team:

  • Professor and consultant Bente Jespersen, Dept. of Clinical Medicine, AU and AUH
  • Associate Professor Marco Eijken, Dept. of Clinical Medicine, AU and AUH
  • Professor Jørgen Kjems, Dept. of Molecular Biology and Genetics, AU
  • Professor Michael Pedersen, Dept. of Clinical Medicine, AU
  • Professor Henri Leuvenink, University Medical Center Groningen and Honorary Skou Professor, AU


Solar cells in the eyes

Millions of people worldwide are blind because the photoreceptors in their eyes do not work. Photoreceptors function like solar cells - they produce an electric current when light hits the retina. Therefore, solar cell implants in the eyes is a potential solution to give the blind a meaningful vision. Associate Professor Keisuke Yonehara from the Department of Biomedicine and his research team will develop such an implant consisting of thousands of small solar cell units and study the biological impact on the eye and the interaction between implant and nerve cells. 

The project is supported with DKK five million from the Exploratory Interdisciplinary Synergy program.
The research team:

  • Associate professor and group leader Keisuke Yonehara, DANDRITE, Dept. of Biomedicne, AU
  • Clinical professor and chair Toke Bek, Dept. of Clinical Medicine, AU, AUH
  • Professor Stephan Sylvest Keller, NANOLAB, DTU


A deeper understanding of viral diseases

Viral infections are the cause of a host of severe diseases, and if one hopes to understand the underlying disease mechanisms, a multidisciplinary approach is a prerequisite. Therefore, Professor Søren Riis Paludan and Professor Trine Mogensen from the Department of Biomedicine in collaboration with Associate Professor Smita Krishnaswamy from Yale University have established an international project group, which works to integrate techniques from e.g. clinical infectious disease medicine, experimental animal science, multi-omics research, and machine-learning to provide a deeper understanding of the viral diseases COVID-19 and herpes simplex encephalitis.

The project is supported with DKK five million from the Exploratory Interdisciplinary Synergy program.
The research team:

The next call for the Interdisciplinary Synergy and Exploratory Interdisciplinary Synergy programmes opens 1 April 2021. Find out more at the foundation website.


Professor and consultant Bente Jespersen
Aarhus University, Dept. of Clinical Medcine and
Aarhus University Hospital
Mobile: 78 45 24 11
Mail: bente.jespersen@clin.au.dk

Associate professor Keisuke Yonehara
Aarhus University, Dept. of Biomedcine and DANDRITE
Mobile: 93 50 80 84
Mail: keisuke.yonehara@dandrite.au.dk

Professor Søren Riis Paludan
Aarhus Universitet, Institut for Biomedicin
Mobile: 28 99 20 66
Mail: srp@biomed.dk


The article is based on press material from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.