29 November 2022

SUND receives four Sapere Aude research leader grants


Four researchers from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences receive Sapere Aude research leader grants. They each receive DKK 6 million for their innovative projects.

The four recipients
The four researchers from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is Katrine Schjoldager, Kristiane Barington, Fernando Racimo and Naia Moroueta-Holme (photo: DFF).

Out of the 41 new Sapere Aude grants provided by the Independent Research Fund Denmark, four go to researchers at the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. They are: Katrine Schjoldager from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Kristiane Barington from the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Fernando Racimo from Globe Institute, and Naia Morueta-Holme from Globe Insitute.

The Sapere Aude grant pool supports talented research leaders, giving them a chance to head their own research team.

“The excellent and capable young researchers in Denmark help renew the knowledge already available with their groundbreaking ideas. Each year it is therefore a special time when we publish the names of the new Sapere Aude Research Leaders. In them we see so many talented researchers who can help ensure that Danish research continues to contribute to finding solutions to society’s challenges for many years to come,” says Maja Horst, who chairs the Board of the Independent Research Fund Denmark. 

The funding instrument “Sapere Aude: DFF-Starting Grant” aims at promoting careers, the mobility internationally as well as nationally among research environments, as well as to strengthen networks.

Sapere Aude: DFF-Starting Grants are targeted at top researchers who intend to gather a group of researchers and/or research students to carry out a research project at a high, international level. The grants furthermore strengthens the possibility for excellent young researchers to return to a Danish research institution after a research stay abroad.

The four researchers from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences receive just over DKK 6 million each. Read more about the four projects below.

Kristiane Barington, IVH

Titel: ”Forensic age assessment of porcine granulation tissue”

The project is about achieving objective and accurate age assessments of porcine wounds.  On a yearly basis approx. 130 cases of potential animal neglect are submitted for veterinary forensic investigation. The age assessment of the lesions is of utmost importance and is used to interpret the degree of negligence or in apportioning blame. Granulation tissue (tissue formed when inflammatory lesions heal) is of decisive importance when assessing the age of a lesion such as a wound. However, this age assessment is based on incomplete scientific evidence.  My aim is to apply cutting-edge technologies to discover objective ways to obtain accurate age assessment of porcine wounds. Granulation tissue from porcine wounds will be evaluated for parameters that changes over time. The results will be combined in a mathematical model able to objectively assess the age of wounds.

I am very proud and happy to have received the Sapere Aude grant, as it is a stepping stone to fulfill my ambition to become one of the leading researchers in the field of veterinary forensic pathology. The opportunity will strengthen my research profile and my network of collaborators in Denmark and abroad, as well as give me important management experience.

Fernando Racimo, Globe Institute

Titel: ”Spatio-temporal analytisk modellering til paleobiologic”

The STAMP project will consist in reconstructing ecological dynamics in the Arctic and tundra regions of North America and Eurasia over the past 30,000 years: What was the distribution of keystone megafauna species in the late Pleistocene and Holocene landscapes, and why did it change over time? How were species impacted by climate upheavals and ecological turnovers? What are the ecological and environmental parameters that determine species resiliency or extinction in the face of change? We will tackle palaeoecological problems in which space and time are inextricably linked together, and also develop new computational tools for the analysis of spatiotemporally-tagged ancient data.

STAMP will allow me to create an internationally-recognized programme in spatiotemporal paleobiology, grounded in a sound statistical framework. It will produce a new conceptual paradigm for thinking about how to handle paleo-datasets and how much information can be obtained from them. It will also create a new paleo-data resource and a novel set of computational methods for analysing ancient ecological processes. Ultimately, STAMP will serve to empower the next generation of paleo-scientists with powerful tools to map the living past.

Naia Moroueta-Holme, Globe Institute

Titel: ”ATEMPO: Anthropogenic impacts on Temporal biodiversity change”

Humans are altering biodiversity across the globe, and ongoing global warming and land use change are expected to result in drastic shifts in species? distributions and ecosystems. To predict these shifts into the future, there is an urgent need to better understand temporal biodiversity dynamics. Indeed, predictions based on current species? distributions are often proven wrong. This project seeks to reconstruct changes over time in plant and bird communities as well as their habitats the past 100 years by integrating field expeditions following in the footsteps of Danish botanists in Greenland and Denmark, citizen science time series data, and analyses of historical aerial photographs. With these reconstructions, ATEMPO will bring fundamental new insights into cross-scale biodiversity dynamics and their natural and human-driven mediators.

Receiving a Sapere Aude grant is a big honor, and I am very grateful for the recognition of my research accomplishments that it represents. I will now be able to hire a PhD student and a postdoc and make the expeditions a reality. Overall, the grant will be fundamental for my ambition of consolidating myself as a research leader within macroecology of the Anthropocene.

Katrine Schjoldager, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine

Titel: Exploring the functional and structural consequence of LRP glycosylation - The sweet spot of receptor mediated endocytosis

The low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) and related proteins (LRPs) are essential multi-ligand, fast- recycling endocytic receptors controlling uptake of lipids, vitamins, enzymes and neuropeptides and dysregulation is closely tied to neurogenerative and kidney diseases. The mechanisms behind ligand selection, intracellular trafficking and disease development are poorly understood. We recently discovered that LDLR and LRPs are O-glycosylated in the ligand binding domains and that loss of O-glycosylation of LRP2 result in impaired kidney function in mice. The responsible glycosyltransferase (GALNT11), that adds sugars to LDLR and LRPs, is highly expressed in the brain choroid plexus (CP) and in kidney proximal tubule (PT) cells and is linked to both kidney disease and a locus for Alzheimer’s, suggesting that O-glycans play key roles in LRP function. Here, I aim to provide mechanistic and structural insights into how O-glycosylation regulates LRP1/2 function, develop CP and PT conditional Galnt11 ko mouse models to demonstrate causal roles in disease and identify LRP glycopeptide biomarkers for chronic kidney disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

It is a huge honor to receive the Sapere Aude grant. Second, the grant allows me to explore a subject with fundamental importance for how we perceive the role of sugar molecules in regulating protein functions. Importantly, the grant will help me cement a line of research that can develop the next generation of glycobiologists.


Associate Professor Kristiane Barington
+45 35 33 31 12

Associate Professor Fernando Racimo
+45 35 33 69 14

Assistant Professor Naia Moroueta-Holme
+45 61 67 65 95