5 July 2007

Newsletter No. 1

To all staff
On 30th April, the Faculty of Health Sciences (SUND) received a magnificent donation of DKK 600m from Novo Nordisk Foundation to set up and operate a Protein Research Center for the next ten years. The name of the Center is: Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research. The Dean and Novo Nordisk Foundation had called a press conference for 11.00 a.m. Later in the day, the event was celebrated at a full Lundsgaard Auditorium with presentation of the donation, speeches and music. Many staff and collaboration partners attended. The big cheque was presented to the Dean, Ulla Wewer, by the Chairman of the Foundation, Ulf. J. Johansson, in the presence of Helge Sander, Minister of Science, Bodil Nyboe Andersen, Chairman of the Governors of the University of Copenhagen and members of the Board and the Dean's and Chancellor's offices. The event was covered by radio, TV and the papers. See also at https://sund.ku.dk/sund-nyheder/proteincenter. It was a happy occasion and the Dean would like to thank you for your support.

Where will the Protein Center be located?

The Protein Center will be at Panum and will occupy about 4,000 m2 in Building 4+6, Floors 1-3. These floors have been allocated by SUND as part of the consolidation process outlined in the Campus Plan from November 2006. The location of the Center means it will come under the aegis of SUND. Staff who are currently in this area will be moving during the autumn of 2007 to other locations in Panum, after which it will be modified to house the Protein Center. We expect it to open at the end of 2008.

About the process

The Novo Nordisk Foundation wanted work on the plans for the Center to be restricted to just a few people and so it was not possible to provide information along the way. In fact, the final decision was only taken at a board meeting at the Foundation on Friday 27th April. Staff at SUND were the first to be briefed about the donation on the Monday morning at a well-attended meeting in the Lundsgaard Auditorium. There are no strings to the donation and it will go to the Protein Center at Panum. All IP rights will accrue to the University of Copenhagen in line with the usual rules.

Building up the Protein Center and then what?

The Protein Center will consist of a core facility for producing and characterizing proteins together with five strong research teams with different research profiles but all focusing on protein research. It is important to emphasise that the core facility will service, complement and collaborate with researchers at SUND, other faculties and national and international institutions. For example, the Center is expected to work closely with other groups on mapping protein structures (X-ray and NMR).

The name of the Managing Director of the Center who has already been found will be released very soon. The Director will also head up the core facility and will be employed on a full-time basis reporting directly to the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences. Two of the five other Research Leaders will be Prof. Matthias Mann and Prof. Søren Brunak. Prof. Mann's laboratory is at Max Plank in Munich and he will be employed part-time at the Protein Center and Prof. Brunak will work at DTU and at the Center. In practice this will be a joint appointment of the kind common in many other countries.

This will allow for the maximum synergy and networking between researchers at the various research institutes. The three other research leaders will be sourced internationally in the course of the next year. There will also be a drive to recruit staff for the Protein Center. The focus will be on supporting education and resources have been allocated in the budget for constructing an elite laboratory in Building 12.1 for use by students engaged in protein studies.

Who is paying for fitting out the Protein Center

The Board of Governors and the University of Copenhagen are supporting the project and are investing considerable funds in renovating the 4,000 m2 floorspace, inter alia by investing in new ventilation for building 4+6. We have also made a start on a major, comprehensive maintenance project for Panum - all installations in Building 4+6 will be simply replaced. This means amongst other things that we will save on energy.

Campus Plan going ahead at Panum

Detailed planning for who will be moving where and how the Institutes will operate are being addressed locally by the Institutes. It has been decided that where staff are concerned, activities will revolve around the Heads of Institute. Working groups have been/will be set up at the Institutes and we will ensure that all staff are kept informed about what is going to happen. Good communication is critical for implementing the Campus Plan project without too much frustration. In conjunction with NAT, we appointed a part time information officer, Morten Moesgaard Mortensen, with effect from 1st May. He will be at SUND one day a week to help on communicating the Campus Plan.

The Heads of Institutes and the local project committees are working with TA, architects and engineers to plan how the move will work and how the functionality and flexibility of laboratories and office facilities can be futurised as much as possible within the financial framework available. We are working on GMO, stink cupboards and new study facilities for students. And working environment enhancements and energy savings are being incorporated right from the start. Faculty Director Arnold Boon is the link man. In other words: "Panum is in building mode".

More information about the Protein Center on the way

A website has been set up at healthscinces.ku.dk/research/proteincenter which we will keep updated with details of what is happening at the Protein Center and we are planning to send out a regular newsletter to all staff. We will also arrange scientific information and discussion meetings with interested researchers which could lead to new collaborations. It will take a little while to get going and we will keep you briefed on progress, both about new potential collaborations and how far we have got with setting up the Center.

Spring greetings from:
Ulla Wewer, Birgitte Nauntofte, Flemming Dela, Old Faber, Karsten Bech, Arnold Boon.