European honour puts Danish researchers in exclusive company

Press releases 2011

Two professors from Aarhus University have been awarded a total of approximately DKK 35 million in much-coveted support from the European Research Council (ERC).

Professor Jens Stougaard, Department of Molecular Biology, and Professor Jørgen Christensen-Dalsgaard, Department of Physics and Astronomy, have now achieved what only ten other Danish researchers have managed. They have each been awarded a prestigious ERC Advanced Grant by the European Research Council (ERC). Aarhus University has now received five ERC Advanced Grants altogether.

The significant financial ERC back-up is awarded to the absolute best frontline research, and expectations are high regarding the ability of the recipients’ projects to make considerable progress in the European research world.

Professor Stougaard has been awarded a grant of DKK 17 million for his research into how plants can convert atmospheric nitrogen into fertiliser, and Professor Christensen-Dalsgaard has been awarded more than DKK 18 million to study the stars of the universe in depth.

Increased focus on European grants

In the last two rounds of awards, researchers at Aarhus University received five of the total of twelve ERC Advanced Grants awarded to Danish research projects since the scheme was introduced in 2008. The grants are awarded in three categories: Physical Sciences and Engineering; Life Sciences; and Social Sciences and Humanities.

“The EU has become a notable contributor in the world of research, and this is definitely an area the Danish universities have become very aware of. Competition is fierce and it’s only the best of the best who get to share the European Research Council’s funds. I’m therefore very pleased, of course, that the council has once more judged projects here at Aarhus University as being part of the absolute elite in European research,” says Rector Lauritz B. Holm-Nielsen, Aarhus University.

The European Research Council (ERC) also awards ERC Starting Grants, which go to the most talented young researchers. In the latest round, Jiong Li, Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, was awarded more than DKK 11 million for his research project on how hormone changes in pregnant women can influence the foetus.