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Stronger research environments at the Department of Biomedicine

On 1 January, the Department of Biomedicine will make changes to its management and organisation. The goal is to strengthen research, and the means will be four research themes that will create greater visibility externally and a better sense of belonging internally. At the same time, Professor Søren Paludan is joining the management team as deputy head of department for research.

Implementing the larger units the researchers will be able to act collectively in regard to the international research environments, foundations and business and industry, says Søren Paludan. Photo: AU.
Department Head Thomas G. Jensen hope and believe that the changes to the organisation will strengthen all the research groups and thus also the department as a whole. Photo: AU

A 17th Century saying states that “No man is an island”, and Donne’s poem is not the only one to argue that 'every man is a part of the main'. From the turn of the year, the Department of Biomedicine will turn away from the current flat research organisation and instead ask its researchers to become part of something bigger to bring about development and provide a greater sense of belonging.

At the beginning of the new year, biomedical researchers must affiliate themselves with one of the four research themes under the overall leadership of Professor Søren Paludan. As of 1 January, he will become the new deputy head of department with special responsibility for the department’s research, which is currently organised in approx. seventy independent research groups.

“You could say that we’re going from individual ‘islands’ to larger units with greater visibility better able to act collectively in regard to the international research environments, foundations and business and industry,” says Søren Paludan.

“This is also advantageous in situations such as the faculty management team wanting to match some of us with other disciplines, for example, for larger funding applications. It’s simply easier to support something that’s already part of a structure and that’s something that we currently lack,” he says.

In his role as deputy head of department, Søren Paludan will work closely with both Department Head Thomas G. Jensen and the three current deputy heads of department, Thomas Juhl Corydon, Morten Schallburg Nielsen and Birgitte Mønster Christensen, who are all continuing in their roles.

Four broad themes

Thomas G. Jensen explains that the four new research themes under Paludan will each have their own coordinator.

“It’s not that we’re going to appoint a new leader for each of the four themes, but rather that four researchers with the right core competences have agreed to take on the extra work of coordinator. I'm very grateful for that. I hope and believe that the changes to our organisation will strengthen all the research groups and thus also the department as a whole," says Thomas G. Jensen.

The four research themes cover the following areas:

  • Noncommunicable diseases (coordinator – Robert Fenton)
  • Personalised medicine (coordinator – Anders Børglum)
  • Neuroscience (coordinator – Poul Henning Jensen)
  • Infection and inflammation (coordinator – Søren Paludan)

Søren Paludan, who will act as both coordinator and new deputy head of department, points out that many of the department’s researchers will almost certainly be able to see themselves in more than one of the four themes. For example, because they belong in one area in relation to their topic and another when it comes to methodology.

The department has therefore decided that the researchers themselves will determine which theme they are part of, and that it should also be possible to change themes if a person changes the focus of their work or simply wishes to have a different affiliation.

Strengthened academic environments

“We’re well aware that there are employees at Biomedicine who think they lack a larger environment with good seminars and help with career development, and I believe we can be better at providing this with the coming structure,” says Søren Paludan.

He adds that the department probably also has employees who will be cautions or even critical, perhaps because they fear losing their academic freedom. But there’s no reason to fear this according to Thomas G. Jensen.

“There will always be a discussion of any changes and we are of course a university, so everyone is welcome to give their opinion. But this doesn’t alter the fact that I, as department head, believe this is a good way for us to move forward. There is real potential in the way we’re going to organise our research from now on," says Thomas G. Jensen.

New chair of the Committee on Education

In addition to the changes to the way in which research is organised, after the turn of the year the department management team will also say goodbye to Deputy Head of Department, Professor Helle Prætorius Øhrwald. She is stepping down from her position as deputy head of department and chair of the department’s Committee on Education because she has become a member of the Independent Research Fund Denmark. Deputy Head of Department Birgitte Mønster Christensen will take over the position of chair of the Committee on Education.


New Deputy Head of Department for Research Søren Riis Paludan
Department of Biomedicine
Email: srp@biomed.au.dk
Tel.: (+45) 8716 7843
Mobile: (+45) 2899 2066

Department Head Thomas G. Jensen
Department of Biomedicine
Email: thomas@biomed.au.dk
Mobile: (+45) 2778 2805