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New grant type brings talented researcher to Denmark

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has launched a new grant type – the NNF Young Investigator Award program – which provides individual grants of DKK 20 million over seven years to attract highly talented younger scientists to Denmark. Esben Lorentzen is the first to receive this award to establish a research group at Aarhus University.

2015.12.21 | Lisbeth Heilesen

Esben Lorentzen is the first to receive the NNF Young Investigator Award to establish a research group at Aarhus University (photo: Max Planck Institut of Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany)

Esben Lorentzen, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany, has been selected as the first to receive the Novo Nordisk Foundation's Young Investigator Award. This younger independent investigator will now be pulling up stakes and establishing his laboratory at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Aarhus University.

The Foundation’s Young Investigator Award will support his research programs with DKK 20 million over seven years.

“With the new Young Investigator Awards, the Novo Nordisk Foundation aims to bring some of the world's most talented and promising younger researchers to Denmark. These awards will support their establishment of outstanding research programs and strengthen Danish research both now and in the future”, says Novo Nordisk Foundation CEO Birgitte Nauntofte.

About receiving the NNF Young Investigator Award, Esben Lorentzen says:

 “I am very excited to join the vibrant scientific community at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Aarhus University. The expertise and state-of-the-art equipment at the Structural Biology unit will provide my research group with the optimal conditions to tackle difficult research questions going forward. The NNF Young Investigator Award provides me with the necessary funding to move my research group to Denmark and contribute to the excellent biomedical research programs in place. Furthermore, given the competitiveness of the award, it provides recognition and acknowledgement of the quality of our research.”

Esben Lorentzen research project

Moving to: Aarhus University, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics

Cilia are thin hair-like structures on the surface of cells that have very different purposes depending on the type of cell. The functions of cilia include cell movement, communication and sensing changes the cell’s environment. If these structures do not work properly in humans, different diseases result depending on the defect and the type of cell. The research that Esben Lorentzen will conduct with his Young Investigator Award will reveal how cilia are formed and function at a detailed molecular level. Comparing normal and defective cilia will provide understanding of cilia diseases and guide new treatment strategies.

Eva Hoffmann from the University of Sussex, Great Britain, was also granted a NNF Young Investigator Award to set up a laboratory at the University of Copenhagen.


About Novo Nordisk Foundation Young Investigator Awards
The NNF Young Investigator Award program has been created to enable highly talented younger scientists located outside of Denmark to establish their labs in Denmark. These grants will support independent early- to mid-career researchers who are ready to conduct more ambitious studies within biomedicine and biotechnology. Young Investigator Awards are granted through a two-stage application process following an open Call for Applications.

Each award is up to DKK 20 million, which can be used for research program costs including project operations, salaries and equipment. Funding up to DKK 2.5 million per year is available for seven years, with up to DKK 5 million in the first year for establishing the lab at the Danish institution.


Text: The Novo Nordisk Fonden

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