22 September 2011

Denmark moves up the stem cell research league

Stem cell research

A major investment in stem cell research has boosted the University of Copenhagen into the international stem cell champions’ league. The Danish Stem Cell Center (DanStem) was founded in January 2011. Now, several members from one of Europe's leading research groups in stem cell research which focuses on developing new stem-cell-based therapies for diabetes and cancer are relocating to the center.

On 1 October Professor Joshua Brickman from the University of Edinburgh takes up his post as PI at DanStem, and several members of his research group at Edinburgh have also applied for positions at the center. . Professor and Director Henrik Semb , point to the grand scale investment right from the start as  the main reason for being  able to attract staff with such remarkable profiles.

- DanStem is founded on the biggest single grant ever distributed by the Danish Council for Strategic Research The grant is  DKK 64.8 million (€ 8,7 million), and on top of this  the Novo Nordisk Foundation is contributing DKK 350 million (€ 47 million) over the next ten years. These huge grants and the stability they provide are among the factors that attract internationally recognised researchers", he says, adding that the other researchers from Edinburgh are only a first wave of a series of international researchers who will be joining DanStem in the coming months.

A strategic investment

Peter Olesen, the chairman of the Danish Council for Strategic Research, emphasises that the possibility of attracting leading international researchers is one of the obvious benefits of channelling research funds into large-scale strategic grants:
- Being able to attract the scientists everybody is fighting for means a number of tangible benefits for society as a whole. We create the basis for research and innovation and thereby the raw materials for future growth.

At the conference on stem cell research organised by the Danish Council for Strategic Research on 22 September DanStem will be represented by its director, Henrik Semb, and Kristian Helin, who is another PI at DanStem as well as Director of BRIC, the Biotech Research and Innovation Centre at the University of Copenhagen.

Both Henrik Semb and professor Kristian Helin, research leader at DanStem and director of the Biotech Research and Innovation Centre (BRIC), will be present at the Danish Council for Strategic Research's Stem Cell Conference on September 22, 2011.  Here they will present DanStem's visions and plans for future stem cell research.

The director of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, Birgitte Nauntofte, is delighted to see that the foundation's investment is paying off:
- The Novo Nordisk Foundation wants to develop a powerful biomedicine research capacity in the Copenhagen region. So we are very much looking forward to seeing how DanStem rises to the challenge of becoming the epicentre for stem cell research described in the visions for the center", she says.

Professor Brickman is looking forward to starting work in Copenhagen.

- I am delighted by the framework it has been possible to create via major, focused grants, and I am looking forward to the fruitful scientific cooperation the future holds with Henrik Semb's group and other leading international stem cell researchers who will be relocating to Copenhagen over the next six months  to be part of the center", he says.