LUNDBECK FOUNDATION AWARDS GRANTS WORTH DKK 57 MILLION TO BOLD PROJECTS WITH THE POTENTIAL TO PRODUCE NEW KNOWLEDGE IN THE FIELD OF NEUROSCIENCE
The brains behind the projects are 29 researchers associated with universities and hospitals in Denmark. They are being funded by the Lundbeck Foundation LF Experiments research programme.
(The 29 researchers who are being funded by the LF Experiments programme in 2020)
It is easy simply to write off an audacious idea that differs dramatically from conventional views, for instance by terming it “completely unrealistic” or “downright ludicrous”, or even by demeaning it: “Come on! That’s just not feasible”.
However, such arrogance can backfire. What if – despite its unorthodox nature – the idea subsequently proves to be spot on?
The Lundbeck Foundation is very careful to avoid knee-jerk reactions and simply turn down bold ideas. For the same reason, the Foundation has established the LF Experiments research programme.
This programme recently awarded its 2020 grants, to the tune of DKK 57 million.
The money goes to 29 researchers at Danish universities and hospitals, each receiving around DKK 2 million to be paid out over two years.
The grants enable recipients to work on the audacious hypotheses they wish to test – either to produce new basic science or to develop new therapies for the benefit of neuroscience now or in the longer term.
And the research projects of the 2020 recipients of the LF Experiments grants cover a broad range of topics: from the study of oxygen flow to light-sensitive cells in the eye to development of new methods for analysing tissue and proteins.
Jan Egebjerg, Director of Research at the Lundbeck Foundation, explains that the projects which receive LF Experiments funding can be classed as high-risk projects.
‘So, these are projects that very often fail to produce the outcomes the researcher had originally expected – but we’re willing to take this risk. If only a few of these projects succeed, we may end up with ground-breaking new knowledge with the potential to broaden our understanding of the field of neuroscience,’ says Jan Egebjerg.
The 29 researchers who have received funding – 11 women and 18 men – are all associated with a Danish university or hospital, and they hold at least a PhD in their research field.
They were selected from 200 applications (62 from women and 138 from men).
In addition to its risk appetite – the hallmark of LF Experiments – the programme has a unique selection procedure. Jan Egebjerg explains that this differs in many ways from the usual review process for research grants:
‘To begin with, the applications are reviewed anonymously. Reviewers only address the actual idea or hypothesis presented by the applicant in their written application. They have no idea who is behind the project, nor are they aware of the applicant’s gender or position. And then, there’s the “decisive votes” system. This is our trump card, and it’s unique to LF Experiments.’
Each reviewer uses this trump card to single out an applicant who, in their opinion, MUST be given funding – regardless of what the other reviewers ultimately think of the project in question. Director of Research Jan Egebjerg explains:
‘Standard procedures, which seek to find consensus, may discard the boldest applications. This trump card gives a chance to the particularly audacious projects – those the reviewers disagree on. Eleven of the 29 projects that ended up receiving funding were actually chosen due to the trump card system.’
The 29 grant recipients come from the following universities or hospitals:
- University of Copenhagen (12).
- Aarhus University (8).
- Technical University of Denmark (4).
- University of Southern Denmark (3).
- Amager and Hvidovre Hospital (1).
- Aarhus University Hospital (1).