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iNANO associated researchers receive DKK 12 m for research instruments and postdoc fellowship

The Carlsberg Foundation awards DKK 12 million in total for iNANO associated researchers. The funds allow the researchers to invest in new valuable research instruments, which will create basis for strengthened research collaboration across research groups at iNANO and partnering departments. One of the recipients have received funds for going on a research stay at a leading international research institution outside Denmark.

iNANO associated researchers receive DKK 12 m from the Carlsberg Foundation for research instruments and postdoc fellowship abroad. (Photos: Maria Randima, Jesper Rais, Lars Kruse, AU Photo, and Lisbeth Heilesen)
iNANO associated researchers receive DKK 12 m from the Carlsberg Foundation for research instruments and postdoc fellowship abroad. (Photos: Maria Randima, Jesper Rais, Lars Kruse, AU Photo, and Lisbeth Heilesen)

Congratulations to all of the recipients!

INTERNATIONALISATION FELLOWSHIP

Postdoc Mette Galsgaard Malle, iNANO and Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
A dna-based mechanical loop for molecular geometric footprint magnification allows ultra-sensitive detection, DKK 1.095.654
Ultra-low concentration detection is important for early-stage medical diagnostics. To date, however selective detection of biomolecules at ultra-low concentrations remains one of the greatest challenges which may be solvable using the molecular geometric footprint magnification outlined here. A developed ultra-sensitive detection platform for alpha-synuclein aggregations and seeding would dramatically reduce the gap for early diagnosis of Parkinson's disease and would importantly enable the evaluation of potential therapeutic efficiency. Additionally, the proposed methodology, when established, might be universally applicable for the detection and amplification of a plethora of other multivalence and aggregation-initiated diseases and reveal the arrangement for a more in-depth understanding.

RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE

Professor Anja-Verena Mudring, Department of Chemistry and iNANO
Pushing the green transition: research grade spectrofluorometer for enabling the next generation of energy efficient, environmentally benign lighting, DKK 1,653,934
Energy is one of most critical challenges that society is facing and reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions is becoming an increasingly important task in order to achieve a sustainable society. Probably the most important sector where energy consumption can be reduced is lighting. Consequently, it is important and timely to develop energy efficient lighting technology beyond the state of art. An important task in evaluation of new materials for the next generation of light sources is their photophysical characterization. In this the research-grade spectrofluorimeter will be key equipment.

Professor Daniel Otzen, iNANO and Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
Fluorescence spectrometer for versatile biophysical analyses, DKK 254,752
The project provides support for a Cary Eclipse fluorescence spectrometer for interdisciplinary research in biological, chemical and physical sciences at iNANO, Aarhus University. This instrument will allow us to measure how molecules "talk" with each other and how this affects their structure and stability. Examples include proteins involved in neurodegenerative diseases, development of new biomaterials, membrane proteins involved in cell development, green biosurfactants, nucleic acids in health and disease, origami structures of RNA molecules, measuring protein binding to nanoparticles, formation of drugs in immunotherapy, studies of cellular nanoreactors and intramolecular switches in proteins and RNA.

Professor Jan Skov Pedersen, Department of Chemistry and iNANO
Upgrade of gallium metal jet x-ray source for small-angle x-ray scattering, DKK 492,480
Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) is a technique for determining the structure of particles, polymer, proteins and other complexes and aggregates. The measurements are done directly on solutions and suspensions and do not require any special sample preparation. However, the measured intensities are weak, and therefore a high intensity X-ray source is employed. The application concerns an upgrade of the liquid metal jet X-ray source at the SAXS at Aarhus University, which was funded in 2014 by the Carlsberg Foundation. The novel technologies used in the source have been further developed and the upgrade will give higher flux and higher stability. This will give better quality data in a broad range of research projects.

Professor Kurt Vesterager Gothelf, Department of Chemistry and iNANO
Mass spectrometer for analysis of protein and oligonucleotide conjugates, DKK 1,266,113
Alle levende væseners funktioner kontrolleres og udføres af DNA og proteiner som er biomakromolekyler. Når man studerer og anvender disse biomakromolekyler inden for forskning og i udviklingen af nye potentielle lægemidler, binder man ofte små molekyler til biomakromolekylerne. Det kan være farvestoffer, så man kan studere dem ved mikroskopi eller det kan være et lægemiddel, hvor biomakromolekylerne bringer lægemidlet til de celler, hvor det skal virke. Dette anvendes også inden for mange andre forskningsområder. Den nye bevilling skal anvendes til at købe et fælles massespektrometer, der med præcision kan skelne modificerede biomakromolekyler fra dem, der ikke er modificerede. Det vil i høj grad bidrage til, at vi kan lave disse forbindelser med højere kvalitet.

Associate Professor Magnus Kjærgaard, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics and iNANO
Instrument for characterization of biomolecular phase transitions, DKK 1,234,240
Like houses, living cells are divided into different rooms with different functions. These "rooms" are known as organelles. Recently, a fundamentally new type of organelle has been discovered that is not bounded by membranes, which is akin to a room without walls. Instead, these organelles form by spontaneous assembly of biological macromolecules: proteins, RNA, and DNA. To study such organelles, we need new equipment that can describe the self-assembly of into liquid-like droplets. This grant will enable us to acquire an instrument that can track the self-assembly of macromolecules and the tiny protein droplets formed. The instrument will be used in a range of projects describing how such membrane less organelles are perturbed in disease as well as engineering of new biomaterials.

Professor Merete Bilde, Department of Chemistry and iNANO
What is in the air? DKK 3,571,604
The air that surrounds us contains a large number of different molecules. Some molecules are harmful to human health, others play a role in formation of aerosol particles and may ultimately affect global climate via interaction of particles with light or via cloud formation. To access how molecules affect human health, air quality and climate it is important to know whether they are present in the gas phase or whether they are present in aerosol particles. We will acquire an advanced instrument (Proton Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometer) which will allow us to identify and quantify semi-volatile organic molecules in aerosol particles as well as in the surrounding air. It will give us exciting new research possibilities and we will use it in a wide range of research projects.

Professor Mogens Christensen, Department of Chemistry and iNANO
Detector for electron backscattering diffraction, DKK 980,000
The aim of the project is to bring about a paradigm shift in material science and expand the understanding of materials. The Electron Backscattering Diffraction (EBSD) detector is uniquely capable of obtaining local information on the nanoscale about atomic structure, size and shape plus the crystallographic orientation also known as texture. For centuries is has been known that atomic structure is driving materials properties, in the late 20th century nanoscience became the focus with bottom-up synthesis. The EBSD will give us the ability to take the next step and investigate materials where the crystallographic orientation on the microscale has been manipulated to improve the properties. The textbook example, where the atomic-, nano-, and microscale is paramount is in magnets.

Professor Poul Nissen, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics and iNANO
Mass photometry for structural studies of complex biomolecular assemblies, DKK 1,329,070
Biomolecules control and catalyze the processes in life and make up tissues. We visualize the complex, dynamic structures of biomolecules at the atomic level with the aim of understanding mechanisms of e.g. enzymes, biochemical pathways, mutations and drugs. Using mass photometry, we can obtain important insight into the heterogenous properties of biomolecules by studying them one by one using a minimal, label-free sample. Mass photometry is optimal for screening precious samples prior to structural studies, and provides also critical information into the interpretation of functional data. Acquiring a new generation mass photometry instrument, we will support basic and applied research in molecular and cell biology, physiology, and biotechnology leading also to spin-out activties.

Read the press release and see list of recipients from the Carlsberg Foundation here.