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1951

Novo Foundation established

The Novo Foundation is established on 1 January with Thorvald Pedersen as Chair, with both Thorvald and Harald Pedersen as life members of the Board. Novo Terapeutisk Laboratorium’s annual general meeting decides to set up a Foundation and to allocate DKK 100,000 of the profit to create a foundation. The Articles of Association state that the purpose of the Novo Foundation is “… to provide support for social, humanitarian or scientific causes …”. Today, the Articles of Association of the Novo Nordisk Foundation repeat this wording but in reverse order. The Articles of Association of the Novo Foundation also state that “The Board of the Foundation, when making its disbursements, shall consider optimally protecting the interests of the company …”. The Board of Directors decides who receives grants.

1955

The Novo Foundation awards its first grants

The first grants totalling DKK 80,000 are decided at a Board meeting on 31 January. Two Board members, Poul Iversen and Hans Baggesgaard Rasmussen, each receive DKK 10,000 for scientific purposes, the Danish Diabetes Association receives DKK 5,000 for scientific research, and the Denmark-America Foundation receives DKK 5,000. The largest grant of DKK 50,000 is awarded to the University of Copenhagen for its planned Department of Biology in the Botanical Garden. Since the university subsequently expresses an opinion on the Novo Foundation’s construction permit on Fuglebakkevej that the Novo Foundation does not like, the amount is reduced to DKK 20,000.

1957

Niels Steensens Hospital Research Laboratory opens

The Hospital, originally opened in 1932 for treating people with diabetes, opens a new laboratory to carry out research into the causes and treatment of diabetes. Thanks to excellent results over the years, Niels Steensens Hospital becomes the most important diabetes centre in Scandinavia.

1959

Novo Foundation establishes the Committee on Medical Research

The Board of the Novo Foundation agrees that an application process for grants will enable the Foundation to distribute the available money to where it is most needed. However, the Board wishes to avoid a situation in which institutions that are turned down and that also consume Novo’s products become disenchanted with Novo and thereby stop using its products. The Board therefore decides to establish a committee with both internal and external members that can assess the applications. The Committee has four members: Hans H. Ussing (pictured) and Poul Iversen from the Board and one representative from each of the medical faculties of the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University: Erik Husfeldt and Knud Lundbæk, two of the most respected and well-known physicians in Denmark. The Committee is to be responsible for “… medicine and the related natural science fields”. This is the origin of the Committee on Medical and Natural Sciences Research, which was in existence until 2017 and is also the forerunner of the current committee structure of the Novo Nordisk Foundation.