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https://novonordiskfonden.dk/en/news/novo-nordisk-foundation-awards-grants-to-14-associate-professors-for-ambitious-projects/

Novo Nordisk Foundation awards grants to 14 associate professors for ambitious projects

Novo Nordisk Foundation awards grants to 14 associate professors for ambitious projects

14 Jun 2021

When influenza viruses and SARS-CoV-2 attack us, they use the body’s metabolism to multiply in our bodies. In a new project, Christian Kanstrup Holm, an Associate Professor at Aarhus University, will identify the metabolites and metabolic pathways viruses use. In the long term, he wants to investigate whether drugs can be developed to target people’s metabolism that specifically prevent viruses from using this metabolism. These drugs would therefore be antiviral agents, preventing viruses from multiplying in our bodies. The results may help to prevent future pandemics.

Christian Kanstrup Holm is one of 14 research leaders at the associate professor level who have just received an Ascending Investigator grant through the Novo Nordisk Foundation Research Leader Programme.

Another grant recipient is Pablo Iván Nikel Mayer, Senior Researcher and Group Leader at the Technical University of Denmark. His project will contribute to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and limiting the production of plastics from fossil resources. This will be achieved through the engineering of bacterial cell factories that can convert C1 substrates (derived from gaseous carbon dioxide) into new biomaterials that can be used in packaging production, biomedicine, textile production, agriculture and electronics. The ultimate goal of the TARGET project is to help to reduce global warming and the pollution of water resources and soil.

“Once again this year, we received many excellent applications for projects that can potentially create new important knowledge to benefit health and sustainability,” says Niels-Henrik von Holstein-Rathlou, Senior Vice President, Biomedicine & Health Sciences, Novo Nordisk Foundation, adding:

“With these grants, we want to enable researchers to pursue risky ideas and test new approaches to important challenges but also to contribute to the ongoing development of world-class researchers.”

Part of the Foundation’s Research Leader Programme
The grants for the 14 projects are part of the Foundation’s Research Leader Programme. Since 2018, the Foundation has awarded grants totalling DKK 1.3 billion to 143 researchers. The grants are awarded to research leaders at three different career stages.

  • Emerging Investigator. Upcoming and promising researchers who want to establish or are in the process of establishing their own research group and research profile.
  • Ascending Investigator. Talented research leaders at the associate professor level in the process of consolidating their research group and profile. 
  • Distinguished Investigator. Professors of high international standing and calibre.

The 14 recipients of Ascending Investigator grants

Name: Simona Chera, Associate Professor
Institution: Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Bergen, Norway
Project title: Regulating Glucose Tolerance by Targeting Delta-cell Population, a Freshly Uncovered Critical Player in the Pathogenesis of Monogenic Diabetes
Grant amount: DKK 10,000,000

Name: Niklas Björkström, Associate Professor
Institution: Department of Medicine Huddinge, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
Project title: Dissecting Immune-endocrine Mechanisms Affecting Endometrial Physiology and Pregnancy Outcome
Grant amount: DKK 10,000,000

Name: Jennifer Baker, Senior Researcher
Institution: Center for Clinical Research and Prevention, Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital, Denmark
Project title: Life-course and Intergenerational Pathways to Child and Adult Cardiometabolic Health
Grant amount: DKK 9,999,878

Name: Paolo Ceppi, Associate Professor
Institution: Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern Denmark
Project title: Understanding and Targeting the Polyol Pathway and Fructose Dependence of Non-small-cell Lung Carcinoma
Grant amount: DKK 9,996,600

Name: Christian Kanstrup Holm, Associate Professor
Institution: Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University
Project title: Exploring Metabolic Pathways to Fight Pandemic Viruses
Grant amount: DKK 9,978,838

Name: Konstantin Khodosevich, Associate Professor
Institution: Biotech Research and Innovation Centre (BRIC), University of Copenhagen
Project title: Neuronal Circuits Controlling Psychiatric Disorders
Grant amount: DKK 9,931,923

Name: Petrine Wellendorph, Associate Professor
Institution: Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen
Project title: Modulation of Tonic Inhibition in GABAergic Signalling (aGABAsign)
Grant amount: DKK 9,999,427

Name: Bjarne Nørgaard, Associate Professor
Institution: Department of Cardiology, Aarhus University Hospital
Project title: Coronary CT Angiography: Pushing Boundaries for Improved Patient Management in Clinical Practice
Grant amount: DKK 7,842,664

Name: Kirsi Mikkonen, Associate Professor
Institution: Department of Food and Nutrition, University of Helsinki, Finland
Project title: Revealing Mechanisms of Post Processing Senescence to Secure the Supply of High-quality Vegetables for the Planetary Diet (VegeSense)
Grant amount: DKK 10,000,000

Name: Sebastian Marquardt, Associate Professor
Institution: Copenhagen Plant Science Centre, University of Copenhagen
Project title: PROTECTOR: Promoting Resilience to Temperature Change with Environmental Sensor RNAs
Grant amount: DKK 9,999,063

Name: Clarissa Schwab, Associate Professor
Institution: Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering, Aarhus University
Project title: Organic Acids – Old Natural Compounds with Underexploited Biofunctionalities (BIOFUNC)
Grant amount: DKK 9,941,638

Name: Amelia-Elena Rotaru, Associate Professor
Institution: Department of Biology, University of Southern Denmark
Project title: Harnessing Microbes to Store Electricity and Capture Carbon Dioxide in Sustainable Chemicals
Grant amount: DKK 9,735,600

Name: Miia Mäkelä, Principal Investigator
Institution: Department of Microbiology, University of Helsinki, Finland
Project title: MYCOFACT: the Dual Role of Sugar Transporters in Plant Biomass Conversion by Fungi to Improve Microbial Cell Factories
Grant amount: DKK 9,997,196

Name: Pablo Iván Nikel Mayer, Senior Researcher and Group Leader
Institution: Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby
Project title: TARGET – Sustainable Production of Novel Biopolymers by Engineering Efficient C1 Assimilation in Pseudomonas putida
Grant amount: DKK 9,999,440

Read about the Programme and see all the grant recipients here.

Further information

Christian Mostrup, Senior Programme Lead, +45 3067 4805, cims@novo.dk