19 January 2021

Nationwide academy will bring together Denmark’s experts in cardiovascular disease research

Cardiovascular disease

A new nationwide Danish Cardiovascular Academy will bring together Denmark’s experts in cardiovascular disease research. The aim is to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease. The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded a grant of DKK 150 million to the Academy and the Danish Heart Association awards an additional DKK 30 million.

Heart model
(Photo: Colourbox)

Each year, more than 55,000 people are diagnosed with cardiovascular disease in Denmark, and a growing number of people live with chronic cardiovascular disease.

To prevent cardiovascular diseases and improve the quality of life of people with these diseases, Denmark’s experts and knowledge within this field will be assembled in the Danish Cardiovascular Academy. The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded DKK 150 million for establishing and operating the Academy.

The academy will award over 100 ph.d. and postdoc grants over a period of 6 years. In addition, it will establish a training and development network to educate the cardiovascular researchers of the future in close collaboration with the Danish Heart Association.

Interdisciplinary projects

The academy will be anchored at Aarhus University and has University of Copenhagen as a close collaborator. Professor Christian Aalkjær from AU and UCPH will be Executive Managing Director, while Professor Thomas Jespersen from UCPH will be Head of Training and Education. Both have been driving forces in the project, which now receives funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Danish Heart Association.

Professor Thomas Jespersen
Professor Thomas Jespersen, UCPH, does research in heart arrhythmia  with focus on the translational axis to the clinic. He is head of the cardiovascular track of the PhD School at SUND and head of Danish Cardiovascular Research Academy which will be integrated into Danish Cardiovascular Academy.

“It is essential for us that the projects that will receive funding from the academy are interdisciplinary and reach across sectors. That will ensure a multifaceted approach in the education of young talents and in the research projects,” says Thomas Jespersen.

The idea behind pooling all of Denmark’s knowledge on cardiovascular disease is to improve understanding of the mechanisms that lead to cardiovascular disease, thereby improving diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

“The Danish Cardiovascular Academy will ensure the development of research talents and facilitate the collaboration between highly skilled researchers and clinicians across the country. It will definitely contribute to the opportunity that the Danish cardiovascular area now has of profiling itself internationally and of benefiting the population. It is an initiative that we look forward to getting started,” says Ulla Wewer, dean at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, UCPH.

Actively integrating patients’ perspectives

In addition to bringing together knowledge and experts from universities, hospitals and other research institutions, the Danish Cardiovascular Academy will integrate patients’ perspectives. A patient organization, the Danish Heart Association, is therefore a partner of the Academy and is contributing a further DKK 30 million to the collaboration.

“The Danish Heart Association is pleased and proud to be actively involved in establishing and expanding the Danish Cardiovascular Academy. Involving a patient organization so actively is visionary and provides the best conditions for shaping and boosting Denmark’s future research in cardiovascular disease to benefit patients and society,” says Anne Kaltoft, CEO, Danish Heart Association.

Professor Christian Aalkjær
Professor Christian Aalkjær, AU and UCPH, does research into the physiology and pharmacology of vascular resistance. President for European Society for Microcirculation

The Danish Cardiovascular Academy will build strong interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral networks in Denmark and internationally. In addition, the Academy will focus on recruiting the best PhD students and postdoctoral fellows within cardiovascular research.

“Denmark has a long tradition for cardiovascular research, but the numerous experts in the field have never been brought together before. The Danish Cardiovascular Academy wants to change that, and the Novo Nordisk Foundation wants to support this development based on its many positive perspectives,” says Niels-Henrik von Holstein-Rathlou, Senior Vice President, Biomedicine & Health Sciences, Novo Nordisk Foundation.

About the Danish Cardiovascular Academy

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded DKK 150 million for establishing the Danish Cardiovascular Academy for a 6-year period. The Academy is based at Aarhus University, and the other partners are:

  • The University of Southern Denmark
  • Aalborg University
  • The University of Copenhagen
  • The four university hospitals in Aarhus, Odense, Aalborg and Copenhagen
  • The Danish Heart Association.


Professor Thomas Jespersen
University of Copenhagen