February 27 was a clear but frosty day at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), when the opening of the new Center of Excellence CeMiSt was celebrated with speeches and a reception.
The center leader, Professor Lone Gram, welcomed the participants to what she characterized as a day of expressing gratitude and defining expectations. Both Gram’s speech and the speeches of the other speakers left little doubt that expectations for the new Center of Excellence are high.
In the coming years, the center will be exploring fundamental questions about microbial secondary metabolites, organic compounds produced in microorganisms that are categorized as not directly essential to the development or survival of the organism. Penicillin and other antibiotics are probably the most well-known microbial secondary metabolites.
Despite the enormous resources that are put into developing new antibiotics, remarkably little is known about the natural function of microbial secondary metabolites. This is exactly what the center’s interdisciplinary group of researchers will delve into.
This presentation of the new center was launched at the opening:
The chair of the Danish National Research Foundation, Professor Liselotte Højgaard, warmly congratulated Professor Gram and the DTU on the new center. Højgaard also emphasized the importance of the global nature of science and the research that will be conducted at CeMiSt:
“We wish that the research will be a success for you, but most important for the sake of science. Science is global, and the results that you will discover will be important for a whole world. The world should be an open place, where students, researchers, knowledge and data can travel without borders, as it has been for academia and universities for more than 1000 years. We have an obligation to also ensure that Denmark is part of the global science community.”
The rector of DTU, Anders Bjarklev, also congratulated Gram and expressed his gratitude and pride in housing yet another DNRF Center of Excellence at the DTU. The new center confirms for Bjarklev the importance of a strong link between the technical sciences and the biological sciences, a link that the DTU will further strengthen in the future by giving all engineering students a knowledge of basic biology.
The center will be located at DTU Bioengineering. The head of department, Bjarke Bak Christensen, recounted how attracting a Center of Excellence grant to the department was one of his long-term ambitions when he was appointed in December 2016. It therefore came as a positive surprise when Gram fulfilled this ambition almost immediately after he took up his position. Bak Christensen stressed that a Center of Excellence has a huge impact on the possibilities for the department to attract and recruit the best young scientists.