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Challenge Programme 2024 – Disentangling insulin resistance

Call opens
1 June 2023
Call closes
25 October 2023 2:00pm (CEST)
Announcement of results
Stage 1: December 2023
Stage 2: June 2024
Application guidelines


The purpose of the NNF Challenge Programme is to make substantial contribution to the development of the Danish research environment, within ambitious research aimed to solve major challenges in health and the sustainability of society and the planet. The aim is to give leading researchers the opportunity to assemble a strong team that can collaborate in a centre-like structure with a unifying vision and mission to develop solutions to major challenges. The Programme provides long-term funding to enable scientific depth and focus and facilitate synergy between the research partners.

Research Theme 2024

The programme is a strategic effort targeting specific challenges within annually selected research themes. For the 2024 application call, the Challenge Programme is seeking to support the following research theme:

  • Disentangling insulin resistance

The challenge is to improve understanding of the mechanisms and molecules regulating insulin sensitivity and the development of insulin resistance with a stratified human-centric point of departure, in order to develop candidate therapies targeting insulin resistance.

The programme will have a special focus on disruptive and innovative approaches to tackle the challenge and should include novel state-of-the-art technologies such as the integration of multiple omics data, single-cell sequencing, CRISPR technology or organoids on a chip. We encourage applicants to focus on data representing diversity both in relation to gender, ethnicity and associated conditions. The programme does not focus on the prevention or treatment of obesity, but the effects of weight loss and physical activity can be leveraged for mechanistic understanding.

Supported research may include but is not limited to: 

  • Identifying novel underlying causal molecular mechanisms of IR in central and peripheral tissues including but not restricted to muscle, adipose, liver, kidney, brain, and blood vessels.  
  • Understanding the roles of IR in the progression of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, neurodegenerative disorders or other related co-morbidities. 
  • Understanding IR heterogeneity in diverse populations based on genetics, clinical measures, and biomarkers for development of precision-based or personalized risk assessment and treatment strategies. 


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 organisation, 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 an 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.

The Challenge evaluation committee can be found here (will be announced at a later stage).

About the grants


Up to DKK 30-60 million per grant



Career stage

Research Leaders (Mid-career/Associate Prof.), Research Leaders (Established/Prof.)


For grant inquiries
Kristine Williams
Scientific Manager
[email protected]
Eugenia Krasnopjorova
Grant Manager
[email protected]