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Quantitative genetics researcher awarded Young Elite Researcher Prize

The Danish Council for Independent Research has selected Postdoctoral Scholar Jan Lassen as a Young Elite Researcher. He carries out research into quantitative genetics and will ensure less methane emission from dairy cattle.

[Translate to English:] Jan Lassen er udpeget til Ung Eliteforsker af Det Frie Forskningsråd til at sikre en lavere metan-emission hos malkekvæg. Foto: Søren Tobberup Hansen

Jan Lassen is a postdoctoral scholar at Aarhus University, and he is one of forty-five young scientists to be selected as a Young Elite Researcher by the Danish Council for Independent Research (DFF).

His scholarship amounts to DKK 3.8 million (approximately EUR 500,000), and is granted as part of the DFF’s Sapere Aude (Dare to know) research career programme.

The DFF awarded Dr Lassen a postdoctoral grant earlier this year, and it is on this basis that he has now received a supplementary grant and the title Young Elite Researcher.

Dr Lassen’s postdoctoral project is concerned with genetic selection in relation to methane emission from dairy cattle. Methane is sixteen times more active as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, for example, and the amount of methane produced by cows in connection with rumination (chewing cud) amounts to eight per cent of greenhouse gas emission.

“The project’s end product is cows with a lower genetic potential for methane emission, combined with a higher milk yield and lower frequency of disease. To do this, we’ll use non-invasive methods to quantify the methane emission of the cows. Kinship among the animals and information about their DNA will be used to estimate genetic parameters and find genomic regions that affect their methane emission. We can use these estimates to select low methane-emitting animals. In this project, we’ll also quantify the genetic correlation between methane emission, milk production, fertility and resistance to disease – thereby including a number of targets of economic value in our selection,” explains Dr Lassen.

He is grateful for the award from the DFF and the improved opportunities made possible by the extra funds.

“This is the seal of approval on my work and I’m extremely pleased about it. The extra funds also make it possible for me to expand my network by working with highly skilled people in my field and raising the research level of the project. At the same time, I hope it can help promote research into food and agriculture, which I feel is hard pressed – both in Denmark and internationally,” says Dr Lassen. As part of his project, he will be spending a period in autumn 2012 at the University of Vermont, USA.

Other Aarhus University researchers in the field of food and agricultural research have previously been selected as Young Elite Researchers. Henrik Hornshøj, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, received the same award in 2010, while similar awards went to Hanne Christine Bertram (2006) and Majken Pagter (2009), both from the Department of Food Science.

For further information, please contact Postdoctoral Scholar Jan Lassen Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, +45 8715 7936, jan.lassen@agrsci.dk

Text: Søren Tobberup Hansen

Translation: Robert Hay