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Ten supernerds receive research grants through the NERD programme, which has been extended by 5 years based on great success

The NERD projects are very diverse, and the common thread is that all the grant recipients are both creative and ambitious. With a long time horizon of 7 years, the grants offer recipients both room to manoeuvre and sufficient time to nerd out and thus make significant progress in their field for the duration of their grant.

See the complete overview of this year’s NERD grant recipients below.

You can also read the stories about two of the 2022 NERD grant recipients Junjun Tan, who will explore chemistry of life, and Jan Joachim Arlt, who will investigate fundamental aspects of the next generation of quantum technologies. 

Five more years
The NERD programme was launched in 2019 for a 3-year trial period and has now been extended for another 5 years.

Lene Oddershede, Senior Vice President, Natural & Technical Sciences, Novo Nordisk Foundation, says: “The feedback we have received for the NERD programme has been overwhelmingly positive. The research communities have especially expressed enthusiasm for the special selection criteria that counteract the accumulation of science barons and minimise bias through an innovative anonymised evaluation process. In addition, the researchers are very pleased with the long time horizon and the flexibility the programme provides. I am therefore very pleased that the Board of Directors of the Novo Nordisk Foundation has approved continuing the NERD programme for 5 more years with a grant amount of up to DKK 490 million. I am very much looking forward to following this research on the sidelines.”

In addition to the long duration of the grant, the NERD programme partly anonymises the selection process, so that the assessment committee cannot see information about the researchers or their bibliometric data but only the project description, with the aim of reducing unwanted bias and increasing focus on the science.

In addition, the researcher must not be a recipient of other grants exceeding DKK 4 million per year. The reason is that the Foundation wants to combat the Matthew effect; in Denmark, this has resulted in 20% of researchers receiving 90% of the grants, creating science barons. This requirement has proven extremely effective in ensuring that NERD grants are awarded to emerging creative researchers.

About the NERD Programme

The purpose of the NERD programme is to support original basic research within the natural and technical sciences, including but not limited to physics, chemistry, mathematics and computer science. The application must describe how the outcome of the project may have potential future applications in the health sciences, life sciences or sustainability.

Researchers at any career stage after obtaining the PhD degree are eligible to apply, although the applicant cannot have a grant portfolio as principal investigator exceeding an annual total of DKK 4 million.

NERD 2022 grant recipients

Packing Frustration in ABC Starblock Polymers
DKK 13,999,697
Kristoffer Almdal, Professor, Technical University of Denmark

Recreating Dynamic Behaviours of Life through Systems Chemistry
DKK 13,998,939
Junjun Tan, Postdoctoral Fellow, Aalborg University

Proximity-inducing New Downstream Chemistries – a Platform for Rewiring Cell Signalling
DKK 8,533,491
Bente Frølund, Professor, University of Copenhagen

Pulsed DNP and EPR Spectroscopy for Biological Applications – the Next Breakthrough in Magnetic Resonance
DKK 10,000,000
Niels Chr. Nielsen, Professor, Aarhus University

Nanostrings on Nanodrums: an Optomechanical Orchestra for Gas Sensing and Quantum Optomechanics
DKK 13,969,517
Aurelien Dantan, Associate Professor, Aarhus University

Bridging the TeraHertz Gap Using Plasmas
DKK 13,957,820
Stefan Kragh, Associate Professor, Technical University of Denmark

Fundamentals of Neutral Atom Quantum Simulators
DKK 13,737,747
Jan Arlt, Associate Professor, Aarhus University

Taming Cations in Natural Product Synthesis: Methods and Mechanisms
DKK 13,653,739
Christian Pedersen, Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen

DNA-stabilized Silver Nanoclusters as New Emitters in the Tissue-transparent NIR-II Region
DKK 13,991,330
Tom Vosch, Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen

Protein Structure at Nano-surfaces – ProSurf
DKK 10,000,000
Tobias Weidner, Associate Professor, Aarhus University

Further information

Marie-Louise Jersin, Senior Communications Partner, +45 3049 4957, maj@novo.dk