Young talent awarded Elite Research travel grant – University of Copenhagen

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24 February 2016

Young talent awarded Elite Research travel grant

Elite Research travel grant

Curiosity, cooperation and a passionate interest in research. This is what drives PhD student and doctor of medicine Nicolai Jacob Wewer Albrechtsen. Now his talented efforts have been rewarded with the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science’s Elite Research travel grant.

The Elite Research travel grant is awarded each year to particularly talented PhD students to fund long-term study abroad periods at leading research environments worldwide. And this is exactly what Nicolai Jacob Wewer Albrechtsen, a 27-year-old PhD student and doctor, intends to use it for.

“The grant will be used for two important things. First, it means that I can continue my work at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry near Munich, where we are preparing protein profiles of human blood to investigate biomarkers for a number of diseases, especially diabetes and other metabolic disorders. Secondly, it gives me the chance to get into the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston, which boasts unique facilities in relation to insulin signalling in cells, in mice and in humans. The grant will help to expand the horizons for my research, so that I and our team can enter into some exciting new international partnerships and together produce new results,” says Nicolai Jacob Wewer Albrechtsen.

New possibilities to be explored and tested
Nicolai Jacob Wewer Albrechtsen is affiliated with the Section of Endocrinology Research at the Department of Biomedical Sciences and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, where he works closely together with Professor Jens Juul Holst. In addition, he also works closely with Professor Dr Matthias Mann Group Leader of the Clinical Proteomics group at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, and cooperating with the two well-known top researchers has been hugely inspiring and very rewarding.

“I am driven by my curiosity, my quest for new discoveries and a desire to understand biology and human physiology. As a doctor, the ultimate goal is that, one day, our work can be used to diagnose and treat patients. Together with my supervisors Jens Juul Holst and Bolette Hartmann, I have been particularly involved with the translational aspect, which has opened up a world of possibilities. By combining basic research with clinical aspects, we can explore biology in depth, for the benefit of patients and society as a whole,” says Nicolai Jacob Wewer Albrechtsen.

Enjoy the little moments
The grant is awarded to especially talented PhD students, and there is no doubt that this is true of Nicolai Jacob Wewer Albrechtsen. Even as a medical student, he showed a keen interest in combining basic research and medical science, and has, despite his young age, created unique international relations within research. He has contributed to the publication of 21 peer-reviewed articles, attracted external funding, is the daily instructor for one of the world’s biggest online diabetes courses (Diabetes – a Global Challenge), is a Global Clinical Scholar alumnus  from Harvard Medical School and is the recipient of a European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) Fellowship Award.

Asked what advice he would pass on to other hopeful PhD students, he is in no doubt:

“Throw yourself into something that fills you with enthusiasm. Then the grants, funding and articles will follow. But the most important thing is that you feel it’s fun. A PhD is not just three years which you have to get through. Remember to enjoy the little moments each day which are peculiar to research: the international relations, the special atmosphere in the lab, the apparently insignificant but memorable experiences and the personal relations with your supervisors and talented colleagues,” says Nicolai Jacob Wewer Albrechtsen. 

The Elite Research travel grant will be presented at a special ceremony at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek on Thursday, 25 February 2016. The grant is for DKK 200,000.