Two highly talented researchers are moving from the United Kingdom to Denmark after receiving Novo Nordisk Foundation Young Investigator Awards.
Following an international call for applications, the Novo Nordisk Foundation has granted two Young Investigator Awards to biomedical researchers Lea Klingenberg Barfod and Tomonori Takeuchi.
The DKK 20 million (€2.7 million) awards enable the scientists to establish their laboratories in Denmark and to pursue ambitious research programmes over a 7-year period. Their research programmes have goals that range from understanding complex biological processes to improving medical treatments.
With the Young Investigator Awards, the Foundation aims to bring some of the world’s most talented and promising younger researchers to Denmark. The awards will strengthen Danish research both now and in the future.
Better protection against disease
Lea Klingenberg Barfod, PhD, is joining the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Copenhagen from the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, where she has been a Senior Research Scientist. As an Associate Professor in Copenhagen, Lea will lead a research group focusing on improving the quality of the antibodies induced by vaccines.
Her Young Investigator Award research programme will aim to rationally determine the characteristics of antibodies that are able to induce disease protection. The malaria pathogen will be used as the disease-causing model, followed by similar approaches for other pathogens for which there are no effective vaccines. The knowledge gained from this research can be directly translated into a second-generation malaria vaccine and transferred to developing vaccines for other diseases.
Lea Klingenberg Barfod says about the scientific environment she will be joining: “The Centre for Medical Parasitology at the Department of Immunology and Microbiology of the University of Copenhagen offers a very special and progressive research environment, with strong scientific programmes related to developing vaccines as well as fieldwork in Africa.
My research portfolio and the expertise I will bring adds to existing departmental activities with clear synergistic potential. I am therefore very excited about having this unique opportunity to establish my group at this specific Centre.”
Regarding the significance of the Award for her, Lea Klingenberg Barfod says: “The Novo Nordisk Foundation Young Investigator Award will have a tremendous impact on both my research and my career. It gives me a very special opportunity to continue and expand the research about which I am passionate. Without the Award, I would not have had the same opportunity to strategically plan my research years ahead, since very few funding bodies offer a 7-year time frame.”
How knowledge is updated
Tomonori Takeuchi is joining the Department of Biomedicine at Aarhus University and will lead a team at the Danish Research Institute of Translational Neuroscience (DANDRITE). He arrives from the Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, where he has been a Postdoctoral Research Fellow since moving there from Japan.
Tomonori Takeuchi’s Young Investigator Award research will focus on how neural structures in the brain organize knowledge. A key but poorly understood issue is how memories of everyday events, which are initially stored in one part of the brain, are selected and then assimilated into a relevant knowledge structure in another part of the brain. The goal of the research programme is to understand the molecular mechanisms of these processes. The studies have the potential to reveal new targets for treating lost memory function.
Tomonori Takeuchi says about the Foundation’s grant and opportunity: “The Young Investigator Award provides me with a great opportunity to lead an independent laboratory at DANDRITE in the Department of Biomedicine at Aarhus University. Here I will be able to pursue innovative research questions about learning and memory. I am very excited about various valuable opportunities in Denmark to exchange ideas and experimental results with scientists from all over the world with different research backgrounds.”
About the Novo Nordisk Foundation Young Investigator Awards
Young Investigator Awards enable outstanding younger scientists located outside Denmark to establish their laboratories in Denmark. These grants support independent early- to mid-career researchers who are ready to conduct more ambitious studies within biomedicine and biotechnology. Young Investigator Awards are granted following an open call for applications and a two-stage application process. More information is available at the Foundation’s website.
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