30 May 2019

New institute to describe the diversity of humans and the Earth

Initiative

Through research into the origins of life and the Earth, the distribution and genetic diversity of life as well as the interaction of humans with the Earth, scientists at the new Globe Institute will contribute to a deeper understanding of how diseases occur, develop and affect humans.

Photo: NASA-Johnson Space Center. Credits: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/6143615821
Photo from NASA-Johnson Space Center. Photo credit: Flickr

The Globe Institute is a new department at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, effective 1 July 2019. It will be home to more than 200 scientists along with other staff and students, who are currently affiliated with the Department of Biology, the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management as well as the Natural History Museum of Denmark. The Institute will be headed by internationally renowned professors; Eske Willerslev, Kurt H. Kjær, Tom Gilbert, Martin Bizzarro, Carsten Rahbek and Minik Rosing.

The switch to the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences follows a merger between the Natural History Museum of Denmark and the Department of Biology – a merger that met considerable resistance both from the groups that are now switching faculties and Department of Biology staff. It has therefore been necessary to establish an organisational framework for the continued efforts of the five research centres at the University of Copenhagen.

"After a very chaotic time, I hope that the establishment of the Globe Institute at the University of Copenhagen will provide the peace and stability that is a prerequisite for a strong, interdisciplinary research environment in an international league of its own," Professor Eske Willerslev says.

"I’m looking very much forward to welcoming all scientists, other employees and students to the Faculty. We will make great efforts to provide a good foundation for the work of the Globe Institute and we anticipate many exciting development opportunities,” says Dean Ulla Wewer of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.

Interdisciplinarity in a new gear

The Globe Institute transcends disciplines and will conduct research into the origin, evolution, diversity and maintenance of the universe, the Earth and life in a changing world. The scientists will seek to uncover the basic geological and biological conditions that determine life on Earth, including examining the interaction between living organisms and their surroundings. This applies, for example, to the exploration of microbes and microorganisms that cause diseases and their interaction with the animals and plants they live in. In this way, scientists can explain how diseases occur and explore the conditions for colonising the universe.

The Globe Institute will also develop interdisciplinary programmes for the University's students, communicate broadly to the public and provide research-based consultancy services to public-sector institutions. Research from the Globe Institute will contribute to resolving global challenges, including climate change, human conditions in the world, the biodiversity crisis and sustainability, and to developing, among other things, medical treatment of mental illnesses and infectious diseases, food production and forensic medicine.

Former Head of research Anders J. Hansen will be acting Head of the Globe Institute and join the faculty management team on par with other departments and centres at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. The scientists will also be teaching at the Department of Biology and the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management.

"I’m looking forward to a stable framework for our research and teaching, allowing us to do what we’re best at, which is exploring our amazing world and putting the results to good use," Tom Gilbert says.

Continued collaboration with the Museum

Until now, the five research groups have been affiliated with the Natural History Museum of Denmark. The scientists will continue to work closely with the Museum about the ongoing development, curation and use of the unique natural history collections. They also expect the current close collaboration with the Department of Biology and other departments at the Faculty of Science to continue in future. The scientists’ new affiliation with health sciences provides clarity and stability about the framework that is to provide the necessary foundation for the construction of a new museum, which has just begun.

"The collections are crucial to our research, and we are crucial to ensuring that the collections can be of benefit and develop, and we’re pleased that there will still be a mutually binding collaboration between the Museum and the Globe Institute," Martin Bizzarro says.


Contact

Rector Henrik C. Wegener via Director of Communications Jasper Steen Winkel:
Mobile: +45 45 28 75 42

Acting Head of the Globe Institute Anders J. Hansen:
Mobile: +45 45 28 75 61