Bjarke Bak Christensen

Biotechnology plays a key role in the corona crisis

Friday 24 Apr 20

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Bjarke Bak Christensen
Head of Department
DTU Bioengineering
+45 30 66 42 33

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DTU Bioengineering sends out a quarterly newsletter containing a selection of the latest research. The newsletter focuses on current themes and contains comments by Head of Department Bjarke Bak Christensen.

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The Coronacrisis

Read about all DTU's research projects in the corona crisis
At DTU Bioenineering the Corona pandemic triggers considerable research activity and laboratories are part of the national emergency response.

The Corona pandemic tests the universities' ability to become part of the national emergency response. This is very much the case at DTU Bioengineering, where several research groups contribute to the development of new methods for detecting corona viruses, they conduct research in biological markers for dangerous influenza viruses and develop enzymes for reagents.

The corona crisis makes the role of universities in crisis response very clear. From a research perspective, it is a fantastic challenge to work on projects that can provide solutions to the crisis. –While weat the same time deliver on our core responsibilities within education and our other research activities.

Corona Test

The corona crisis has triggered research projects at a number of DTU's departments. DTU Bioengineering's molecular approach to biomedicine and health plays an important role in developing the methods needed to control coronaviruses and to develop the tests needed to determine whether a human is infected with Covid-19.

The molecular focus is in great demand in a number of the projects our scientists participate in. However, we cannot do this alone. We are not doctors and we do not have the medical expertise of handling virus infections medically or therapeutic. Therefore, we need to have a close collaboration with doctors and epidemiologists.

Coordination of research collaboration

The Corona crisis challenges the professional environments and companies to be aware of their core competencies. This is also true at DTU Bioengineering, where we for example do not bid in on tasks such as developing an actual vaccine, even though the department has the expertise to do so. Here we believe that a number of companies and organizations have greater research capacity to draw on.

On the whole, it is a big task for management to coordinate the forces so that we utilize the capacity properly and do not go after the same projects. We do this internally at DTU, but in the great interaction with companies and other universities we try as far as possible to let the researchers themselves put together their research teams. We can help guide the researchers in the right direction, but if we try to coordinate too much, we end up tying down the researchers' time and we demotivate more than we benefit.

I am confident that coordination and prioritization will ultimately be best handled by the companies and foundations that support research, and in doing so, they ensure that the most urgent challenges are given the highest research priority.

Bjarke Bak Christensen, Head of DTU Bioengineering.

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