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The cardiovascular network at Health is a reality

A new formal research network, the cardiovascular network at Health, will bring together researchers from a wide range of fields of study in new joint projects for the benefit of patients with heart disease. The network is the first – but not the last – of its kind at Health.

An interdisciplinary research network is brought to life! After the formal part of the first annual meeting 75 researchers from several departments continued the academic discussions in a more informal ‘get together’ in the Skou Building.

Around 150 researchers from different departments, research units and hospital departments will now pool their insights, creativity, initiative and enterprise in a new interdisciplinary research collaboration called the cardiovascular network at Health, which the faculty management team is behind.

The goal is better treatment of heart disease via more and better collaboration between basic research, clinical research, health service research and clinics throughout the Central Denmark Region.

“Since the 1960s, the cardiovascular field has stood out with an impressive research tradition that focuses on prevention and is based on a close but also perhaps rather random collaboration with other areas of specialisation,” says the network’s spokesman Hans Erik Bøtker, who is also chair of the cardiovascular network’s steering committee.

Synergy can be planned

"Now we’re establishing a foundation for synergy in a much less random – and even planned – way, and we believe that this can lead to something exciting and important," says Hans Erik Bøtker.

The steering committee’s observer from the faculty management team, Thomas G. Jensen – who is also department head at the Department of Biomedicine – also emphasises the likely benefits of bringing together researchers who are not already part of one another’s more informal networks.

“When Lars Bo Nielsen took up the position of dean, he pointed to how strong we are in the cardiovascular field and I remember thinking at the time ‘are we really’ – and I’ve been here at the university for thirty years! However, we’re geographically very spread out and thus don’t necessarily know what colleagues in other locations are working on," says Thomas G. Jensen.

Open to all – just come and join

Last week, the steering committee and 75 other participants left the first annual meeting of the network in good spirits. The network is characterised by an open structure and no upper limit on the number of members.

"The day’s programme featured some excellent research a real desire to exchange knowledge across the formal part, which bodes well for interdisciplinary research in the future," says Thomas G. Jensen.

This is a point that Niels-Henrik von Holstein-Rathlou certainly agrees with. He has overall responsibility for the Novo Nordisk Foundation's grants and activities within biomedical and health science research, and was invited to the network’s first annual meeting to talk about funding opportunities.

“It’s always difficult to predict what networks will turn up of results, but for a research area that’s as broad as the cardiovascular, it’s important that the clinicians and researchers carrying out basic research have contact with one another. If you don’t know each other, the sodium potassium pump can quickly become abstract for a hospital doctor, while his or her day-to-day work and reality are equally distant for a researcher carrying out basic research. That's why having a forum where research is in focus is a good place to begin," says Niels-Henrik von Holstein-Rathlou.

The cardiovascular network is the first of a number of top-down facilitated research networks at Health, with the Food and Nutrition Network as the next awaiting final realisation. Follow developments on Health's Research Network website.