Aarhus University Seal

Blogpost from new Interim Director of DANDRITE

In this blogpost, new interim Director, Poul Henning Jensen, looks forward and brings out some of the highlights for the coming year in his new role.

Photo: Rikke Lindhard, DANDRITE

By Poul Henning Jensen, Professor and Interim Director, DANDRITE

It is with great joy and anticipation that I assume the role of Interim Director for DANDRITE from January 1. At our last board meeting, it was decided to establish a transparent process to recruit a new director. My present position is thus temporary and to secure continuity in this period of change.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend a heartfelt thank you to Poul Nissen for his outstanding leadership over the past 10 years, which has had a significant impact on where DANDRITE stands today.

Over a decade ago, alongside Poul and Anders Nykjær, I was involved in the initiation of DANDRITE as the Danish neuroscience research centre in the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine. At that time, the success of establishing a new interdisciplinary center for neuroscience was not guaranteed. In 2013, collaboration across disciplines and faculties was not common practice, and we often had to tread paths few had ventured before.

Today, we can proudly conclude that we have paved the way as a role model for similar projects. Interdisciplinary collaboration is now crucial for much outstanding research.

Another crucial success criterion is that we have served as a beacon, attracting many strong international applicants to positions at Aarhus University. With great expectations, we embark on a new year.

In many ways, 2024 marks a new chapter for DANDRITE. Not only with a new director and new faces in leadership but especially with an entirely new team of group leaders, as we have recruited four new talents in the past year.

For DANDRITE, the development and success of our group leaders are crucial, as we operate as a talent development program based on the EMBL group leader model.

Therefore, a central focus for me and the rest of the leadership in the coming time will be to give our new group leaders the optimal start to their exciting and innovative research programs, both internationally and nationally.

This will include closer collaboration with our partner institutions in the Nordic EMBL Partnership in Molecular Medicine, where DANDRITE represents the Danish node and other EMBL stations in Europe.

Our recent partnership meeting in Helsinki in September revealed several exciting overlapping areas of interest that we will try to leverage. Our new postdoc program, NORPOD, will be particularly effective in establishing productive collaborations across the Nordic countries.

Nationally and locally, we must continue to integrate our research even more into the many exciting neuroscientific programs at Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital and the wider Danish neuroscience community.

Expectations for interdisciplinary and translational programs are high, and DANDRITE will be ready as a very active participant.

Finally, I hope that we become even better at spreading our expertise for the benefit of the larger neuroscience community at AU – especially in our two host departments, Biomedicine and Molecular Biology and Genetics. In 2023 alone, we have contributed to attracting new imaging facilities at MBG and played a strong role in establishing facilities for animal experiments.

Internally, I will do my best to continue the work of improving our internal research community, with a focus on exciting challenging and enjoyable meetings and activities, ranging from biweekly meetings to annual retreats.

At the same time, I want to bring our DANDRITE-affiliated researchers closer together, help new research talents anchor themselves as DANDRITE team leaders, and engage in national initiatives where we can make a positive difference.

There are many good things ahead.

I look forward to continuing DANDRITE's journey towards new research insights in collaboration with the rest of the leadership, research colleagues, and the support team.