22 March 2010

Denmark to open world-class international research center

University of Copenhagen receives historic financial donation from the Novo Nordisk Foundation

With funds from the largest-ever private donation in Danish history, the University of Copenhagen is set to build a new center for international metabolic research at the Faculty of Health Sciences. The center will open in autumn 2010.

The Center will conduct research into Type 2 diabetes, among other diseases, and will acquire the capacities and resources to establish itself as one of the leading international research centers in the world. With 885 million Danish kroner (approx. 160 million US Dollars) from the Novo Nordisk Foundation, a team of 5 leading research scientists will be headhunted by the University to oversee "The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research".

Combating lifestyle diseases

The Center will aim to carry out basic research into metabolism – or what is commonly known as lifestyle diseases. This includes diabetes and obesityrelated illnesses, all of which are on the rise throughout the world. According to the International Diabetes Federation, approx. 285 million people world-wide suffer from Type 2 Diabetes and this figure is set to climb to 438 million people within just 20 years.

- "This magnificent donation will transform Copenhagen into a global epicenter for metabolic research,” explains Dean Ulla Wewer from the Faculty of Health Sciences. “The Center will establish a framework for leading researchers within the field. We will acquire the knowledge and facilities to make a difference to understand the basis for the development of metabolic disease, which continues to affect more and more people around the world."

- "This is a big day for Denmark and for the University of Copenhagen. The new metabolic center will strengthen Copenhagen’s place on the map as a center for world-class research, says Rector Ralf Hemmingsen. “The Novo Nordisk Foundation is truly visionary in their decision to make such a massive investment in solving serious global problems such as lifestyle and metabolic diseases. This donation will place Danish research at the forefront of international work in this field."

Global tendency

The Chairman of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, Doctor of Technology Ulf J Johansson stresses that the size of the donation must be equal to the enormity of the challenge faced by researchers.

- "The donation of 885 million kroner should be seen in light of the staggering increase in the incidence of metabolic diseases. Even though these are commonly referred to as lifestyle diseases, their incidence is spread throughout the world and is not only prevalent in affluent society."

In the presence of science ministers and other dignitaries, Ulf J Johansson will award the donation to Dean Ulla Wewer today on Monday March 22, at a short ceremony at the Lundsgaard Auditorium, Faculty of Health Sciences.

- "The Donation is our way of bringing the University of Copenhagen into the ranks of the international elite, in an area of research within Biomedicine in which Denmark is already strong", says Ulf J Johansson.

Handing over ceremony for largest-ever private research donation in Danish history

When:  Monday 22 March 10.00am
Where: Lundsgaard Auditorium at the Faculty of Health Sciences, 3B Blegdamsvej, 2200 Copenhagen N

The ceremony will last approx. 50 minutes. Subsequent to this, members of the press will be able to obtain exclusive interviews and footage of key persons involved in the new metabolic center, including director Anne Stæhr Johansen and research leaders Gerald I. Shulman, Jens Juul Holst, Juleen R. Zierath, Oluf Borbye Pedersen and Thue W. Schwartz.


  • The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research will open on 1 October 2010 and will house 5 research leaders recruited from among the best scientists from around the world.
  • The Metabolic Center will, within a few years, be based in a new building, which is under development at the Faculty of Health Sciences (Panum Building) in Copenhagen.
  • The Novo Nordisk Foundation is an independent institution, which lends support to scientific, humanitarian and social endeavours. Most of this support is channeled within the field of health science.
  • The Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Copenhagen is home to 4000 students, approx. 1000 PhD students and 1800 members of staff. The Faculty provides 13 degree programmes and drives health science research.


Ulla Wewer, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences
Tel: (+45) 28 75 70 51
E-mail: ullaw@sund.ku.dk

Birgitte Nauntofte, Director of Novo Nordisk Foundation
Tel: (+45) 30 79 45 73
Email: bint@novo.dk