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Australian scientist gets DKK 19m for obesity work

Genomics scientist from the University of Copenhagen sets off a whirlwind of funding for his projects on obesity and diabetes

In the midst of economic gloom and hard times for science funding, one scientist has stood out and apparently found the winning formula.

India-born Australian Haja Kadarmideen of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences has only been in Copenhagen for one year, but he has already hauled in a solid lump of cash for three different genomics and systems biology projects.

»It has been a fantastic first year at the University of Copenhagen as I have been able to develop and submit grant proposals to external funding agencies that attracted nearly DKK 19 millions, and in these hard and highly competitive circumstances,« he says.

Unclear first where to get funds

In June last year, Haja got EU funding for a four year project on the genetics of obesity in pig models to improve human health. Six months later, the National Advanced Technology Foundation (DNATF) chipped in with a three year grant to find a method to reduce boar taint in Danish pigs.

Then, the Danish Strategic Research Council and the Department of Biotechnology funded a four-year project in co-operation with Indian partners to look at childhood obesity.

»It was quite unclear for me where, and how, I would be able to get external funds for my research before I moved to Denmark, so I was a bit nervous,« he admits to the University Post.

Started applications before arrival

But then the work kicked in, and things turned out better than his highest expectations.

»It was a very intensive first year for me, as I had to start quickly networking inside and outside Denmark, formulating new ideas and writing these grant applications. But in the end, all the hard work paid off,« he says.

Haja says that before he arrived he got support from the faculty’s research and innovation office, and a number of high profile collaborators (see box right).

»Now that I have got the funding for all these projects, we have to execute these projects and deliver results – a challenge as well as a great opportunity«, he says.

Family here

Denmark is the sixth country in Haja’s scientific career. Trained as a vet in Chennai, India, he then moved into genetics, doing his PhD in Canada and working in Holland, the UK, Switzerland and Australia.

»Being a vet and having a veterinary practice has enabled me to connect my research to practical, applied medical genetics,« he says.

Haja’s wife, who is from Holland, and three children have also moved to Copenhagen with him.

Read about the science behind Haja’s projects in an in-depth article here.

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