Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl



by Niels Ole Kjeldgaard, the founder of the department

written in 1993 in connection with the department's 25th anniversary

The Molecular Biology Department was established during an especially favourable time for Danish research.  Throughout Denmark it was recognized that research and education were central issues for the country’s economic and cultural future, and that the majority of the population should have the opportunity to take an education to the highest possible level.  During the 1950s it was decided to expand the existing universities and departments of higher learning as well as to found new universities.

An auspicious start
The University of Aarhus was part of this picture, and during 1960 it was decided that its biology teaching should be broadened to include subjects that were previously taught only at the University of Copenhagen.  At the beginning of the 1960s, professorships in Zoology. Botany and Genetics were established so that teaching to Bachelor and Master levels in the Biological Sciences could begin. At this time a typical department’s personnel consisted of one Professor, one Head of Department and two to three Associate Professors. Thus, the faculty’s plan in 1966 was that the biology department as a whole should have 13 Professors, 15 Heads of Department and 39 Associate Professors.  Naturally there were also major building plans.

In the autumn of 1965 the Faculty of Science set up a committee to study the requirements for expansion of the Biology teaching at the University of Aarhus.  In addition to the Professor of Botany from Aarhus University Dr. Kai Larsen, the committee included four Professors from the University of Copenhagen: Dr. C. Barker Joergensen ( Zoophysiology), Dr. Morten Lange (Botany), Dr. Ole Maaloe (Microbiology) and Dr. K. G. Wingstrand (Zoology).  The committee unanimously supported the expansion plan and it was suggested that Professor-ships and Departments be set up in the fields of Genetics, Plant Physiology, Zoophysiology and Molecular Biology.  It was a time when the Ministry could meet the financial demands so in 1966 a Professor of Genetics was appointed, followed in June 1967 with the appointments of Professors of Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology.

Biology teaching began with selected students continuing to follow courses in Copenhagen.  It was very important for securing a good teaching base in Aarhus that the Faculty recognized that it could be a catastrophic start if the new subjects were immediately overwhelmed by high student numbers.  Therefore, an agreement was made that students, even after the new departments were set up, could still, after selection, continue to study in Copenhagen until satisfactory buildings could accommodate them in Aarhus.  This decision was an important basis for the successful expansion of our Department in that attention was paid to the development of the subject matter rather than the pressure of teaching when it came to appointing Department staff.

Staff and students (1976)

Staff and students (1976)

1989 - group photo 1

1989 - group photo 2

1989 - Group photo 3

1989 - Group photo 4