DKK 60 Million for research into Big Data and Aging – University of Copenhagen

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16 January 2018

DKK 60 Million for research into Big Data and Aging


Researchers from Center for Healthy Aging receive DKK 60 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Challenge Programme. The project will investigate how big data can help address societal challenges following from ageing.

The Challenge Programme is the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s largest individual support programme with six-year grants of DKK 60 million. The programme is intended to support and promote world-class research focussing on solving present-day challenges within global technology or health. Researchers from Center for Healthy Aging is behind a research project that receives the prestigious grant.

Health data should increase our knowledge on healthy aging

The project is called ‘Harnessing the Power of Big Data to Address the Societal Challenge of Aging’ and is conducted by researchers at the Center for Healthy Aging. Within a tight legal and ethical framework, they intend to use modern computer-supported analyses to increase our understanding of the ageing process and to explore how the underlying biomolecular processes can be changed.

Professor Rudi Westendorp from the Department of Public Health and the Center for Healthy Aging is looking forward to starting the project.

‘The fact that we live longer and the number of years we have to live with a disease impact on our quality of life. Age is the most significant risk factor for most chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and dementia, but we still do not know why. The project gathers a group of talented researchers from different areas of expertise to ensure that we get the most out of the unique health data stored in Denmark’s official records. We wish to prevent and postpone the fragility experienced in old age. In the long term this will make it possible to customise treatments and ensure that more people live a healthy life for longer’, says Rudi Westendorp.

“The grant enables us to build bridges between the exploding fields of genomics and metabolomics as performed within the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, novel imaging techniques as developed within the Pathology Department at Rigshospitalet, and ultimately the unique data sources within Statistics Denmark. It is exactly this type of interdisciplinary research that the Center for Healthy Aging is striving for", tell Rudi Westendorp.

Co-applicants and partners in the project are Associate Professor Niels Ploug from the Department of Economics and Professors Lene Juel Rasmussen and Tom Kirkwood, both from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and the Center for Healthy Aging.

Each year the Novo Nordisk Foundation grants up to DKK 360 million to up to six Challenge Programme projects. Read more about the other projects in the press release from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.


Professor Rudi Westendorp
Center for Healthy Aging and Department of Public Health
M: (+45) 2296 3141