15 February 2016

New seal of approval to the University of Copenhagen


Top researchers from the University of Copenhagen have been awarded eight large grants from the European Research Council out of a total of ten grants given to Danish projects. This is the highest number ever for a Danish university and paves the way for several research projects beneficial to society.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen excel in the international competition for research funding. The European Research Council (ERC) has just disclosed the names of the recipients of the crucial ERC Consolidator Grants, which are given to outstanding scientists with projects of great promise. With eight grants awarded the University of Copenhagen’s researchers have received a record-high number totalling close to DKK 127 million. It is the highest number of ERC grants ever awarded to one Danish university, and a very significant part of the ten Consolidator Grants given to Danish research projects this year.

“Receiving ERC grants is one of the most spectacular seals of approval a university can achieve in Europe, and we’re very pleased that our researchers at the University of Copenhagen have attracted funds of this magnitude. It’s a consolation at a time of large-scale reductions in both education and research,” says Prorector for Research and Innovation, Thomas Bjørnholm.

From Big Data in healthcare to old genes

The list of recipients from the University of Copenhagen covers a wide range of research topics vital to science and society. The projects will shed light on topics ranging from the progression of cancer, the early development of the human gut and the biological development of the modern horse. A fourth project has the potential to change the way in which society deals with the mounting volume of citizen health data.

How can we manage the increasing collection of health data on citizens? One of the ambitious new projects aims to map out one of today’s major challenges and resources. Photo: Polfoto

Professor Klaus Høyer from the Department of Public Health is behind the project 'Policy, practice and patient experience in the age of intensified data sourcing,' which has been awarded nearly EUR 2 million. Together with eight other researchers, he will map out one of today’s major challenges and resources: health data.

“GPs, hospitals and psychologists are all increasingly collecting big data on citizens. And researchers, politicians and pharmaceuticals are all keen to use the data. But there is a wide range of potentially conflicting interests and legislation in this field because our understanding of the data collection is fragmented,” Professor Høyer says.

With the backing of the ERC grant, his research project now has the possibility of mapping practice and conditions of data collection and compare against similar data issues in other countries.

“We will be able to give the Danish academic environments that are using health data an empirically-based understanding of the data collection. This will make it possible to advise politicians, researchers and clinicians on the consequences of data collection, so that we can find the most optimal ways of managing this issue,” he says.