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Six more years for Biomedicine's department head

Thomas G. Jensen has been re-appointed to the position of department head at the Department of Biomedicine. He will work on strengthening research with more impact, helping more spin-outs get off the ground – and he will also expand the international and digital aspects of the study programmes that belong under the department.

"We must do a better job of telling and showing the world around us what we do and how we do it. And here I will, of course, take the lead but I won't be doing this alone," Thomas G. Jensen says. Photo: Lars Kruse, AU.

Since 2011, Thomas G. Jensen has left his personal imprint on the Department of Biomedicine – and he will continue to do the same over the next six years.

As chair of the appointment committee, Dean Lars Bo Nielsen is pleased that Thomas G. Jensen has said yes to another term.

"Thomas has a passion for his work and he is able to lay out a direction and get the staff onboard, both when things are going well but also when they’re going less well. He is a constructive team player who has on several occasions undertaken to lead the way – among other things in relation to our collaborative partners at other universities and in foundations and business and industry," says Lars Bo Nielsen.

Better research with more impact

With his reappointment, Thomas G. Jensen will be in charge of elevating a well-functioning department that is enjoying healthy academic and financial progress to a new level as an internationally recognised beacon for biomedical research and education.

One of his visions is to hieghten the impact of research and the way to do this includes more competitive research groups with the intention of increasing the funding from foundations secured by the department. Other specific objectives include more ERC grants and at least one major new research centre.

"We have recently organised research into four themes, and as an employee at the department, you should expect to meet more discernible leadership. Not just from me and the deputy heads of department , but also internally in the new research themes. One thing we will be doing is working with individual career plans for each academic staff member – and with required follow-up," says Thomas G. Jensen, and also mentions the mentorship programme for junior researchers and strategic recruitment both internally and externally as paths towards the new goals.

Modern teaching – also in English

Thomas G. Jensen's to-do list also includes readying the students for tomorrow's labour market by introducing more English-language elements into the study programmes.

"We need to make more use of foreign researchers in our teaching, and we will also make teaching more modern through the use of e.g. blended learning and video. Moreover, I will allocate funding to support research by those employees who spend extra resources on teaching tasks during a period," he says. 

First the lean years ...

As department head, Thomas G. Jensen is probably best known as the man who immediately after his appointment guided the department through a merger in which six departments became one in 2011. This was followed by a big round of cutbacks in 2014 that led to both dismissals and resignations. Around the same time, work began on the Skou Building, which was inaugurated in October 2019 with the plan being to move in during Spring 2019.

"The department and I have been through a range of challenges together and I’m therefore grateful to be able to carry on now we’re in a situation where we’ve got a some incredibly talented employees, a healthy economy, more students than previously, increased funding from foundations than when I started – and where we’ve also become such a sought-after place to work that the two most recent job advertisements for permanent positions had more than ninety good applicants," says Thomas G. Jensen, who emphasises that he will continue to be a department head that staff can meet in both formal and informal contexts.

Visible in a new way

However, some things will change. Thomas G. Jensen will devote more energy to acting as the department's public face and he will focus more on recruitment, relationships with foundations and business and industry as well as new partner universities in Leuwen and Edinburgh.

"We must do a better job of telling and showing the world around us what we do and how we do it. And here I will, of course, take the lead but I won't be doing this alone. We will come to work with a new strategy at the department where everyone is an ambassador for their workplace – on social media and in our national and international network," he says.

"Because even though modesty is a virtue, telling people about all the many things we can contribute with is most certainly not a sin! Whether it’s research at elite international level, or how we educate young people, it’s something which is in demand all over the world," he says.

Thomas G. Jensen in brief

  • Department head at the Department of Biomedicine from 2011
  • Professor of medical genetics at AU from 2006
  • Member of the Danish Council on Ethics 2003-2011
  • Member of the National Committee on Health Research Ethics from 2012
  • Professor and research director at the Kennedy Centre in Glostrup 2003-2006
  • Department head at the Department of Human Genetics at AU 2001-2003
  • Graduated as a medical doctor from AU in 1987
  • Born in 1961. Married to Lillian, lives in Skødstrup outside Aarhus and has two sons – Emil and David who are 33 and 32 years old