June 30, 2020

The Novo Nordisk Foundation awards DKK 400 million – 41 research leaders have a unique opportunity to pursue ambitious long-term projects

The Novo Nordisk Foundation’s Research Leader Programme gives talented researchers the opportunity to investigate hypotheses with great potential and to develop new techniques and methods. The Programme also aims to support the continuing development of both young talented and top researchers.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded 41 grants of up to DKK 10 million each to outstanding research leaders at different stages of their careers.

The Programme supports both young talented researchers in the early stages of their career, talented research leaders at the intermediate career stage and established professors at a high international level.

The grants, which last 5 years, will enable these researchers to pursue ambitious projects within such fields as medical science and biotechnology. The knowledge from these projects can contribute to advances in health, disease and environmentally friendly production methods.

In one of the projects, the grant recipient wants to create new knowledge on specific microproteins in plants that can be used to improve existing crop plants to secure future food production.

In another project, the grant recipient wants to investigate how thyroid disease in pregnant women affects fetal development. The project aims to contribute to better diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease in pregnancy.

A third project will examine the biological process known as transcription. The first step in developing diseases such as cancer can occur if these processes in the body do not function or if there are errors or genetic disruptions. In the long term, new knowledge on basic cellular processes will advance the understanding of the development of disease and potentially also create the basis for better treatment methods.

“The Research Leader Programme aims to provide researchers with the best opportunities to make significant new discoveries by ensuring that they have a stable funding base for their research in the long term. This gives them the opportunity to pursue risky, innovative research ideas and to dare to think differently and explore new ways of and approaches to solving important questions,” says Birgitte Nauntofte, CEO, Novo Nordisk Foundation.

“With this programme, we also want to support the continuing development of excellent researchers regardless of their seniority. We are therefore strongly supporting younger and very talented research leaders with great potential,” adds Birgitte Nauntofte.

The Foundation has awarded 41 grants totalling DKK 400 million. The researchers supported are employed at universities, hospitals and other research institutions throughout Denmark and in the other Nordic countries.

The grants have been awarded as part of the Foundation’s Research Leader Programme, which comprises four scientific focus areas. Up to 12 five-year grants of up to DKK 10 million each are awarded annually within each of the four areas. The grant awards in 2020 are as follows:

  • Endocrinology and metabolic research. Read more about the 9 grant recipients and their projects here.
  • Biotechnology-based synthesis and production research. Read more about the 12 grant recipients and their projects here.
  • Clinical and translational research. Read more about the 10 grant recipients and their projects here.
  • Bioscience and basic biomedical research. Read more about the 10 grant recipients and their projects here.

About the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s Research Leader Programme

The Programme comprises three types of grants targeting a specific or typical stage of a researcher’s career as follows:

  • Emerging Investigator. Young promising research leaders who want to establish or are in the process of establishing their own research group and research profile.
  • Ascending Investigator. Research leaders at the associate professor level to enable them to consolidate their research group and profile.
  • Distinguished Investigator. Professors of the highest international standing and calibre.

Read more about the Programme and see a list of all previous grant recipients here.

About the Novo Nordisk Foundation

The Novo Nordisk Foundation is an independent Danish foundation with corporate interests. It has two objectives: 1) to provide a stable basis for the commercial and research activities of the companies in the Novo Group; and 2) to support scientific, humanitarian and social causes.

The vision of the Foundation is to contribute significantly to research and development that improves the lives of people and the sustainability of society. Since 2010, the Foundation has donated more than DKK 25 billion (€3.3 billion), primarily for research at public institutions and hospitals in Denmark and the other Nordic countries as well as research-based treatment and prevention of diabetes. Read more at

Further information

Christian Mostrup, Senior Programme Lead, +45 3067 4805,