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Award ceremony: five young researchers win prestigious award

February 20, 2023
Five top researchers of international repute are to be honoured with the coveted Elite Research Award. HRH Crown Princess Mary and the Minister for Higher Education and Science, Christina Egelund, will present the five awards in the foyer of the Royal Danish Playhouse in Copenhagen.

Can batteries become sustainable? Have we understood Parkinson's disease correctly? And how can we ensure the future survival of endangered animal species?

These are some of the questions this year's recipients of the prestigious Elite Research Award have asked themselves, and to which they have found groundbreaking answers in their research.

Five top researchers will receive the prestigious Elite Research award, which will be presented to them this afternoon by HRH Crown Princess Mary and the Minister for Higher Education and Science, Christina Egelund, at an award ceremony in the foyer of the Royal Danish Playhouse in Copenhagen.

DKK 1 million for research - and a personal recognition award

What the five prize winners have in common is that they are all "young researchers", as the award stipulates, and that they have delivered top-class research of an international standard.

The award also involves a grant of DKK 1 million towards the further research activities of the award recipients, plus a DKK 200,000 personal recognition grant.

In conjunction with the award, 20 highly talented PhD students will each receive a travel grant of DKK 200,000. These grants will be used to fund study trips to the very best research environments in the world.

The Minister for Higher Education and Science, Christina Egelund, comments:

- When a researcher dares to ask new questions, even about already established paradigms, there is a greater chance of breaking new ground. This is what this year's five award winners have done, and it encapsulates the whole essence of the Elite Research scheme: the idea that even as a young researcher you dare to lead the way, showing others that new paths have to be trodden, and that this can be done by researchers of all ages. Denmark is driven by knowledge, and we must continue to give a high priority to research - to ensure progress in Denmark, in the world, and for humanity as a whole. I wish to offer my congratulations to the five winners. And to the 20 talented PhD students who are receiving an Elite Research travel grant.

This year's winners of the Elite Research Award Prize:

Dorthe B. Ravnsbæk's research includes the discovery that batteries, currently made using lithium, which is a scarce resource, can also run on sodium, a more sustainable material. This groundbreaking research might mean that batteries could be produced to meet demand, enabling the world to mitigate the effects of climate change. 

Per Borghammer has challenged the common understanding of Parkinson's disease, which causes tremors and reduces the quality of life for several hundred thousand Danes. Developing a special scanning method, he became the first in the world to show that clots of Parkinson's protein may be located in the intestines up to 20 years before the disease is diagnosed. A pioneering research finding that in the long term might mean that patients with Parkinson's could be treated medicinally. 

Eline Lorenzen has studied the interaction between animals, humans and nature. By looking at DNA from finds of teeth and bones both prehistoric and modern, she has come to a better understanding of animal evolution and of how climate change has affected the world's animal species over the last 100,000 years. Another pioneering research finding that could tell us, for example, what are the polar bear's chances of surviving future climate change. 

Poul Fritz Kjær researches the role of law in political economy. He is the originator of the  theory of the Law of Political Economy, which explores how legal perspectives can be usefully integrated into political economy. This innovative piece of research provides a new understanding of economic law that has implications for future welfare and labour market policy. 

Alexander Kai Büll researches protein aggregation in the brain. Aggregation of proteins in the brain may lead to Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. Until now, it has not been clear why this happens. With his groundbreaking research findings, Alexander Kai Büll is the first person to identify and describe an autocatalytic process, that is, the chemical process involved in protein aggregation.


  • The Elite Research Award was first awarded in 2007 and is being presented for the 17th time this year.
  • The Elite Research programme focuses on top-level Danish research and raises awareness of the quality of Danish research.
  • The Elite Research programme aims to make researchers visible as role models and to arouse curiosity and enthusiasm for science among students and younger researchers.
  • Previous award winners include Eske Willerslev, who won the prize in 2011, and Vincent Hendricks, who was awarded the Elite Research Award in 2008.

For more information:

Press enquiries can be directed to the Ministry of Higher Education and Science press desk: + 45 7231 8181 or email: presse@ufm.dk

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