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A real and tangible difference

Minister for Higher Education and Science Jesper Petersen's speech at The Brain Prize, October 25th 2021.

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Your Royal Highness
Prize winners
Chairman of the board
Guests.

I am proud and delighted to be part of this evening’s celebrations. An evening where we celebrate neuroscience and recognise a group of its top researchers.

Less abstract than we think 

When you hear the word neuroscientist. Or brain researcher. I think most people have a certain image in their heads. We picture highly intelligent men and women in white lab coats, huddled up in a laboratory day and night. Studying x-ray images of brains. Doing experiments and tests. But other than those vague images, I don’t think many of us can truthfully say that we understand what it is brain researchers do.

It is a field of research that can feel very far removed from our lives. From the things and people we care about.

But tonight’s award ceremony highlights that this preconception of neuroscience couldn’t be more wrong. I mean; brain research certainly is for highly intelligent men and women. Doing fascinating research. Possibly while wearing white lab coats.

But the research by this evening’s prize winners is not far removed from the normal lives of most people. It is not abstract. In fact, it very much has a concrete impact on real life for so many people.

I have close family members who suffer from migraines. Sadly, that does not make me special. The life quality, work ability and health of millions of people worldwide is impacted by migraines. A debilitating disorder that has enormous personal consequences for the people suffering from it. And comprehensive economic consequences for our society.

The same can be said for Rett-syndrome. While it is a much more rare disorder, the severity of the impact it has on the children affected by it – and their families – can’t be overestimated.

By researching these disorders. Looking for answers, treatments, even cures. You are making a very real and tangible difference in the lives of people around the world.

Life changing life science 

Earlier this year Denmark launched a national life science strategy that seeks to create better conditions for research and development in this field. Denmark is a life science nation. And we want to keep it that way.

As part of our policy for research and its strategic elements lies a priority of life science and a political will to sustain a continuing development in this field. Along with a strong life science industry. With excellent research like the neuroscience, we are celebrating tonight.
This is why Denmark is the OECD-country with the most publicly funded health research by percentage of GDP. We want to make sure that Denmark is a top pick nation for anyone who wants to do research and innovation in the life science field.

Therefore, I am incredibly grateful for the great support this field receives. Thank you Lundbeck Foundation for your generous contributions. They are of great value in sustaining a strong life science sector in Denmark.

The Brain Prize puts Denmark on the map when it comes to neuroscience. And I hope you will forgive me – because I know that science has no borders. But I can’t help being a little extra proud that we have our first ever Danish winner of the prize tonight.

Looking for answers, treatments and cures

All six of you have dedicated yourself to these disorders. To the real and tangible struggles of the people suffering from migraines and Rett-syndrome. Improving people’s lives. Bringing science closer to the people. And ensuring its legitimacy and support. Which is essential to maintaining a strong neuroscience field that can keep pushing forward.

And to keep creating new insights, knowledge and breakthroughs. That will someday become new answers, treatments and even cures.

Congratulations. And thank you. All of you.

last modified Dec 07, 2021