UCPH Excellence Programme for Interdisciplinary Research

In January 2013, 18 projects were granted research funds from the University of Copenhagen's Excellence Programme for Interdisciplinary Research. The program has distrubuted nearly half a billion Danish kroner to strengthen interdisciplinary research at the university.

The research projects who received funding have been elected by an international evaluation panel.

In the spring of 2016, an international panel of researchers led by Vice President of the European Research Council, Klaus Bock, conducted a mid-term evaluation of the projects and the Excellence Programme as such. Read the mid-term evaluation of the UCPH Excellence Programme for Interdisciplinary Research.

Living with Statins – High Cholesterol values in the blood: A Social, Medical and Personal Perspective [Acronym: LIFESTAT]

More than half a million Danes take statins in order to maintain good health and avoid cardiovascular disease. However, there is evidence that statin-use has serious side-effects including skeletal muscle cell death, muscle pain and lower exercise tolerance. The Living with Statins project will investigate the biological consequences of statin treatment, people’s perception of disease risk influenced by the media, and the way people manage to live with the risk.

Project leader: Professor Flemming Dela
Involved faculties: SUND, SAMF, HUM

 » Read more about LIFESTAT (in Danish)

Attention to Dopamine: From Psychological Functions to Molecular Mechanisms

Attention is essential for our ability to select only the most important information for conscious perception. Visual attention can be precisely measured in psychological tests however there is a huge gap between our understanding of attention at the psychological level and basic brain mechanisms at the cellular level. The Attention to Dopamine project focuses on the relationship between visual attention, the neurotransmitter dopamine and the highly prevalent disorder ADHD.

Project leader: Professor Ulrik Gether
Involved faculties: SUND

 » Read more about Attention to Dopamine

Governing Obesity

At least 2.8 million people world wide die from obesity every year and obesity affects quality of life, healthcare costs and efficiency of the workforce. The aim of Governing Obesity is to provide new knowledge and novel means for governing obesity and its consequences. The project will explore interventions across individual and societal level.

Project leader: Professor Thue W. Schwartz
Involved faculties: SUND, SCIENCE, HUM, JUR

 » Read more about Governing Obesity

Precise Genetic Engineering - UCPH as a leader in Next Generation designer organisms

Genome editing is a revolutionary technique allowing the precise genetic engineering of cells and organisms. The technique has an immense potential in diverse areas of biotechnology and biomedicin including drug discovery, stem cell and gene terapies, livestock and crops. The Precise Genetic Engineering project will establish University of Copenhagen as a leading knowledge and education center on the technological, legal and ethical aspects of genome editing.

Project leader: Associate professor Hans H. Wandall
Involved faculties: SUND, BRIC, SCIENCE, JUR

University of Copenhagen Research Centre for Control of Antibiotic Resistance (UC-CARE)

Antibiotic resistance is one of the major threats to human healthcare in the decades to come. UC-CARE is a novel research centre for control of antibiotic resistance in bacteria affecting humans and animals. Research will focus on a broad range to topics important to prevent antibiotic resistance, e.g. discovery of new drug targets, alternative methods for prevention of bacterial infections and societal factors influencing antibiotic use.

Project leader: Professor Anders Miki Bojesen
Involved faculties: SUND, HUM, SAMF, SCIENCE

» Read more about Controlling antibiotic ressistance at UC-CARE

Global genes, local concerns: Legal, ethical and scientific challenges in cross-national biobanking and translational exploitation

This project deals with the legal, ethical and scientific challenges related to cross-national use of biobanks. The project aims to study and ultimately provide guidelines to overcome regulatory barriers to biobank research and the utilization of research results, while at the same time securing the ethical legitimacy of the research and the societal interests. Screening of biobanks to identify novel ciliary disease genes will be used as a case example.

Project leader: Associate professor Timo Minssen
Involved faculties: JUR, HUM, SUND, SCIENCE

» Read more about Global genes, local concerns

'Changing Disasters': Understanding Societies through Disasters

According to recent estimates, 244 million people were victims of natural disasters in 2011. The Changing Disasters project aims to explore how disasters are shaped by societies – and no less important – how disasters shape societies. The researchers involved in this project will investigate the social, political, technical and cultural aspects of how societies interpret and respond to disasters, and describe changes in society initiated by these catastrophic events.

Project leader: Professor Morten Broberg
Involved faculties: JUR, TEO, SCIENCE, SUND, HUM, SAMF

» Read more about Changing Disasters

The Genomic History of Denmark

The Genomic History of Denmark will, in close collaboration with The National Museum of Denmark, showcase Denmark as the first country in the World to map its evolutionary, demographic and health histories from the earliest settlers to modern times. DNA and proteins extracted from Danish archaeological skeletons collection dating back to the Mesolithic (5000-3000 BC) will be analyzed to provide knowledge about Danish heritage and health history. The impact of the scientific findings on our cultural, historical, self identity health will be elucidated.

Project leader: Professor Eske Willerslev
Involved faculties: SCIENCE, SUND, HUM, JUR

» Read more about the Genomic History of Denmark

Plants for a changing world

Climate changes seriously threaten agriculture and at the same time the world population is increasing rapidly. To meet this challenge the project will investigate if it is biologically feasible to develop modified crops with improved salt tolerance, resistance to pathogens and increased nutritional value. An important part of the project concerns the social, economic, legal, and ethical feasibility of the approach in order to meet the controversial opinions in the public against the use of plant biotechnology in food production.

Project leader: Professor Michael Broberg Palmgren
Involved faculties: SCIENCE, SUND, HUM, JUR


Plants use solar energy to drive the synthesis of complex compounds. In the bioSYNergy project, synthetic biology will be used to extend this ability to solar driven production of high-value and new-to-nature natural compounds in photosynthetic cells and thus provide a sustainable alternative to the current production of pharmaceuticals, food ingredients and other industrial compounds. Pharmaceuticals will be screened towards G-protein coupled receptors taking advantage of resolved crystal structures and nano science technologies. A bioethics and communications platform for dialogue with society on the use and implications of synthetic biology will be established and intellectual property and regulatory aspects related to the open source approaches of synthetic biology will be addressed.

Project leader: Professor Birger Lindberg Møller
Involved faulties: SCIENCE, SUND, HUM, JUR

 » Read more about bioSYNergy

Dynamical Systems: Mathematical Modeling and Statistical Methodology for the Social, Health and Natural Sciences

Many biological, physical and social systems are characterized by their dynamical nature. The aim of this proejct is to develop mathematical models and statistical methods suited for the analysis of empirical data obtained from such systems. The models and methods will be applied to physiological and biomolecular processes, neuroscience, psychology and econometrics, which in turn will serve as a testing ground for new methodology.

Project leader: Professor Susanne Ditlevsen
Involved faculties: SCIENCE, SUND, SAMF

 » Read more about the Dynamical Systems Interdisciplinary Network

Physical activity and nutrition for improvement of health - Copenhagen Women Study

Physical inactivity and poor nutrition are the two most important factors in the alarming increase in obesity, cardiovascular diseases and type2 diabetes. Research at the Center for Physical Activity, Nutrition and Health will explore the mechanisms by which physical activity and proper nutrition can improve health, prevent disease and facilitate treatment of life-style related diseases, encompassing activities ranging from molecule to individual.

Project leader: Professor Erik A. Richter
Involved faculties: SCIENCE, HUM, SUND

» Read more about Copenhagen Women Study


Fertilizing the ground and harvesting the full potential of the new neutron and X-ray research infrastructures close to the University of Copenhagen.

This project prepares researchers at UCPH to exploit the full potential of the new world class neutron and X-ray synchrotron facilities in Lund and Hamburg. The unique capabilities of these facilities that make it possible to unravel the finest structural details in hard and soft matter will be employed in a waste range of research projects and aid the development of new drugs and materials.

Project leader: Professor Sine Larsen
Involved faculties: SCIENCE, SUND, JUR, HUM, SAMF

 » Read more about CoNext

Social Fabric

Social FabricHuman behavior is to a large extent determined by social interactions. This project will map entire social networks of a freshman class across all modes of communication using smart phones as sociometers, and these data, the social fabric, will provide novel perspectives on social networks as they evolve in real time. The project will develop new tools for characterizing social networks, and will analyze, both quantitatively and qualitatively, if and how behavior is transmitted in networks. The project seeks to advance the emerging field of computational social science, and will, at the same time, analyze how issues such as ethics and privacy are handled in researching sensitive data.

Project leader: Professor David Dreyer Lassen
Involved faculties: SAMF, SCIENCE, SUND, HUM

» Read more about Social Fabric

Europe and New Global Challenges (EuroChallenge)

EuroChallenge addresses Europe’s place in the world in the context of a rapidly and radically changing global order. The project examines the intersection of a changing global configuration on the one hand and still unresolved tensions of European integration on the other. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the market, politico-legal and socio-cultural aspects of Europe’s challenges will be elucidated.

Project leader: Professor Ben Rosamond
Involved faculties: SAMF, JUR, HUM

» Read more about EuroChallenge

The disrupted "we": Shared intentionality and its psychopathological distortions

The capacity to adopt a we-perspective and create a social reality is fundamental to human social life. This project will investigate the nature of disturbances in the capacity for entering and maintaining a we-perspective in schizophrenia. The investigation will provide new input to theoretical debates about the relation between the first-person perspective, empathy and the we-perspective, and a basis for novel approaches to treatment of schizophrenia.

Project leader: Professor Dan Zahavi
Involved faculties: HUM, SUND

» Read more about The disrupted "we"

PROGRAM – Information PROminence and GRAMmar in mind and brain

PROGRAM is a new research and education centre for neurolinguistics at University of Copenhagen. Research at the center will advance current knowledge about the neuro-cognitive basis of grammar by using a combination of psycholinguistic experiments, and experiments with MR scanners to image cognitive processes in the brain. The knowledge will facilitate diagnosis and treatment of agrammatic aphasia as well as gramma teaching.

Project leader: Associate professor Kasper Boye
Involved faculties: HUM, SUND, SAMF

» Read more about PROGRAM

Counteracting Age-Related Loss of Skeletal Muscle Mass: an Interdisciplinary Innovation Project on Making Lifestyle Changes through Exercise and Diet (CALM)

After age 50, the human body suffers a loss in skeletal muscle mass of up to 2% every year resulting in loss of strength and functional ability. This interdisciplinary project aims to develop a programe that can help prevent the loss in skeletal muscle mass in elderly people. The project will examine the effects of exercise and protein intake, identify the individual and social barriers that prevent elderly people from making lifestyle changes, as well as stakeholders shaping eating and exercise habits among the elderly population.

Project leader: Associate professor Astrid Pernille Jespersen
Involved faculties: HUM, SCIENCE, SUND

» Read more about CALM