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Challenge Programme 2023 – RNA- and Oligonucleotide-based Therapeutics

Call opens
16 August 2022
Call closes
26 October 2022 2:00pm (CET)
Announcement of results
Stage 1: December 2022
Stage 2: June 2023
Application guidelines


The purpose of the NNF Challenge Programme is to make substantial contribution to the development and strengthening of the Danish research environment, within research aimed to solve major challenges in global health, technology and sustainability. The Challenge Programme supports excellent researchers who will establish research and collaborate in a dynamic centre structure with a unifying vision and mission. The Programme provides long-term funding to enable scientific depth and focus and facilitate synergy between the research partners.

About the grant


30-60 million per grant


For grant inquiries
Jens Peter Holst Lauritsen
Scientific Manager, PhD
+45 3067 4848 [email protected]
Eugenia Krasnopjorova
Project Specialist
+45 4126 6120 [email protected]

Research Theme 2023

The programme is a strategic effort targeting specific challenges within annually selected research themes. For the 2023 application call, the Challenge Programme is seeking to support the following research theme:

  • RNA- and Oligonucleotide-based Therapeutics

The overall aim is to support the basic science that facilitate development of RNA and oligonucleotide-based therapeutics within common clinical conditions, primarily cardiometabolic diseases, efficiently targeting the relevant tissue, cell types and subcellular localisation. The program does not focus on rare diseases and vaccine development. So far, existing RNA and oligonucleotide-based therapeutics have mainly been able to inhibit an endogenous gene-function or modulate mRNA splicing. An additional challenge will be to develop methods that allow direct overexpression of proteins and peptides.

Supported research may include but is not limited to:

  • Research on cellular targeting to optimise delivery into specific cell types, such as adipocytes, endothelia or skeletal muscles, and control of subcellular localisation. This may include studies on chemical modification of RNA and oligonucleotides or development of nanoparticles to RNA/oligonucleotide exposure.
  • Research that facilitates development of novel RNA/oligonucleotide-based therapeutics and explores mechanisms to obtain increased transcription and protein expression.
  • Research that pursues therapeutics in novel RNA/oligonucleotide-based modalities such as aptamers, circular RNA, miRNA, and lncRNA.
  • Research in cellular response and adaptation to the RNA and oligonucleotides.


The Challenge Programme supports excellent research leaders from 2-4 research groups (main applicant plus 1-3 co-applicants).

The programme leader must be at least 75% affiliated with a Danish university, hospital or other non-profit research organization, that will be considered the host institution of the project.

The research institutions of the co-applicants can be located in Denmark or abroad. The co-applicants should contribute significantly to the advancement of the project and should receive part of the funding.

Industry collaboration is possible; however, funding cannot be awarded to industrial partner(s).


A total of up to DKK 120 million is available for grants between DKK 30 million and DKK 60 million for projects lasting up to 6 years.

Application process

The application process will consist of two stages.

Stage 1: A short expression of interest will be evaluated by an international expert committee. The best applicants will be invited to submit a Stage 2 application.
Stage 2: An application with a detailed project proposal. The main applicant will be invited for interview with the international committee.

Please read ”Information and Guidelines for Applicants” carefully before initiating the application process. Additional and essential information is found in these guidelines.

Click here to read more about the Challenge Programme and to see a list of previous Grant recipients.


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