Apply for grants

CHALLENGE PROGRAMME 2025 – Ectopic fat and cardiometabolic disease

Call opens
9 April 2024
Call closes
9 October 2024 2:00pm (CEST)
Application guidelines Send application


The purpose of the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s Challenge Programme is to make a substantial contribution to the development of Danish research ecosystems within strategically relevant research areas. 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 2025

The programme is a strategic effort targeting specific challenges within annually selected research themes. For the 2025 application call, the Challenge Programme is seeking to support the following research theme:

  • Ectopic fat and cardiometabolic disease

The challenge is to understand causal factors in the development and consequences of ectopic fat accumulation, identifying novel targets and precision medicine strategies in disease prevention and treatment with a human-centric point of departure.

Through basic and applied research the programme should have a special focus on disruptive and innovative approaches to tackle the challenge and should include novel state-of-the-art technologies such as large-scale omics and imaging techniques (e.g., CT and MRI) allowing for non-invasive quantification. 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 per se, but on the understanding of how ectopic fat causes adverse health effects and how this disease risk can best be reduced (with/without weight loss). Hence, the effects of weight loss, diets and physical activity could be studied for mechanistic understanding of disease modification.

Supported research may include but is not limited to:

  • Identifying and understanding underlying genetic and acquired mechanisms that cause ectopic fat accumulation in various tissues.
  • Understanding how ectopic fat causes adverse health effects (local and humoral mediators).
  • Understanding the beneficial effects of weight loss, physical activity and specific diets on ectopic fat accumulation and disease (e.g., T2DM & CVD) modification.
  • Research aimed at subgrouping based on measures of ectopic fat for precision 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% employed at a Danish university, hospital or other non-profit research organization, that will be considered the host institution of the project. Affiliation must be declared in the hosting letter and justified if less than 75%.

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 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.

About the grants


Up to DKK 30-60 million per grant



Career stage

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


For grant inquiries
Mads Fiil Hjorth
Senior Scientific Lead, PhD
[email protected]
Jamie Batchelor
Grant specialist
[email protected]