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Outgoing SAB member: “It is difficult to overstate the impact of the science at DANDRITE”

Over the past six years, Professor Yang Dan from the University of California has witnessed DANDRITE evolve into a highly impactful scientific organization. As she steps down this year, she plans to continue following the scientific results from afar.

Professor Yang Dan
Professor Yang Dan Photo: Rikke Lindhard, DANDRITE
Scientific Advisory Board at Sandbjerg Manor, May 2024
Professor Yang Dan participated in her last SAB-meeting in May 2024. From the left: Yang Dan, Peter Scheiffele, Veerle Baekelandt, Cornelius Gross, Elena Cattaneo and Ryohei Yasuda Photo: Rikke Lindhard, DANDRITE

When Professor Yang Dan joined the Scientific Advisory Board back in 2018, both the DANDRITE organisation and the first cohort of Group Leaders were young and still trying to find their footing.

The then-youthful and experimental nature of DANDRITE was a key part of Yang Dan's motivation for becoming a member of the SAB:

"The program introduced a new set of mechanisms. So, when I was asked to become a member of the Scientific Advisory Board, I was really curious to see how far the program would progress and how it would overcome its initial challenges," Yang Dan explains.

After six years as part of the SAB, Yang Dan has had the opportunity to closely follow its development and has observed significant changes. Activities are now well-organized, and policies have been established.

"Over the years, a lot of the little wrinkles have been worked out, and the Group Leaders have matured and grown into strong scientists training the next generation. There has really been a maturation on multiple levels."

At her final SAB-meeting this year, Yang Dan also had the opportunity to meet the new cohort of Group Leaders, whom she sees as very different from the first group.

"In the first round, there was a very strong focus on neural circuits. This round is a bit more diverse, and I am excited to follow this new group of leaders and the scientific breakthroughs they will make in the coming years."

Speaking of breakthroughs, Yang Dan does not doubt how DANDRITE has positioned itself both nationally and internationally.

"In Denmark, it has certainly brought neuroscience to a new level, especially outside of Copenhagen. But also in the areas of systems neuroscience, the impact in that subfield has been tremendous. It is very difficult to overstate the impact," she states.

During the last six years, she has served as a scientific mentor for the institution in general and the Group Leaders in particular. Before she leaves, she has one last piece of advice to give the young Group Leaders who are now embarking on a new career as principal investigators:

"Focus—don’t spread yourself too thin. Find a good balance between exploring new directions and also focus on getting things done. Get your first and second publications out as quickly as possible, and then you really pick up the momentum."