Asian Correspondent » Aarhus University Asian Correspondent Tue, 30 Jun 2015 18:59:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 SWEETENED DRINKS CAN BE DANGEROUS Wed, 04 Jan 2012 09:59:17 +0000

The test lasted six months and involved volunteers drinking one litre per day of four different drinks: Coca-Cola, skimmed milk, light cola (zero energy) and water. After the trial period it was discovered that the fat content in the liver and muscle tissue of the people who had been drinking Coca-Cola had more than doubled in comparison with the people who had been drinking the three other drinks. The amount of fat in the abdominal cavity and the fat content in the blood (cholesterol and triglyceride) also increased in the Coca-Cola group.

The results of the six-month test has just been published in the highly respected American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And the conclusions constitute a serious warning against drinking sucrose-sweetened beverages on a daily basis. The test was carried out by a team of researchers led by Bjørn Richelsen, a professor of clinical nutrition at Aarhus University.

A connection has already been discovered between drinking sucrose-sweetened beverages and the development of obesity, diabetes and cardio-vascular disease; but previous studies have failed to demonstrate a direct link between such drinks and these health problems.

“Our results show that there is a direct connection between the daily ingestion of one litre of sucrose-sweetened beverages and the fat content in the liver, muscles and abdominal cavity. The fat content of the blood increases as well, and cholesterol levels rise. All these changes are known to increase the risk of developing diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases,” says Professor Bjørn Richelsen from Aarhus University.

“Children and young people are believed to represent a high-risk group in terms of the negative effect of sucrose-sweetened beverages; and diabetes and cardio-vascular disease aren’t the only things to threaten young people who have a high consumption of these drinks. The incidence of the liver disease known as ‘non-alcoholic fatty liver’ is increasing in young people, and a high consumption of soft drinks may also be a contributory factor to this problem as well,” says Bjørn Richelsen.

The trial also demonstrated that even though skimmed milk has the same energy content as sucrose-sweetened beverages, milk had no negative effects on the fat content of the liver, muscles and abdominal cavity – or on the fat content in the blood. Cola Light (sweetened with aspartame) had almost the same effect as water.

So the conclusion is clear: drinking one litre of sucrose-sweetened beverages every day for six months increases the risk of contracting diabetes and cardio-vascular disease, so the consumption of these drinks should be kept to a minimum. When considering the results of this study, it’s worth remembering that the average consumption of sucrose-sweetened beverages among young men in the US is 1.8 litres a day, and that average consumption for the American population as a whole is 0.5 litres a day.

By Lise Arnfred
Aarhus University, Faculty of Health Sciences

Read more:

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Motivating research environment Tue, 20 Dec 2011 09:01:17 +0000

Faculty of Health at Aarhus University for over-the-years has developed a challenging, diverse research work groups which are unique by itself. Many of the groups at the faculty are having motivating work force which keeps them succeeding. Every group member is trained to be effective when they work independently or in a team. Work environment like this will help even a new member in a group to develop these skills.

My research group for example is formed by 13 group members, which consists of professor, post doc fellows, PhD students, research year students and research assistants. Our group is lead by 3 senior professors who work on different areas of renal physiology. Professors and students in our group are always open for discussions and eager to learn new things. We usually have laboratory meetings once a week sometime once every two weeks, where we discuss about our project and experimental problems. Most of the new ideas are valued and discussed. Creativity is always encouraged during laboratory meetings.

There will be a casual meeting every week where we have morning snacks and tea.  Sometimes we have social meetings outside the campus which help us to know and understand each other. During these meetings we talk about sport, religion, politics etc and do not force the conversation but allow it to flow naturally. These activities help us to communicate effectively and build a team spirit.

Many research groups at the university have similar activities which help them to get involved with each other and know better. University at its end also organises many social gathering to help research groups to get socialised with each other. University annual meetings, University fest, Christmas celebration etc are some of them. All of these social activities help us to create work environment which is motivating to others.

Ravikiran Mahadevappa
PhD Student at Aarhus University, Denmark

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NEW PIECE IN “PUZZLE OF BLOOD PRESSURE” FOUND Fri, 16 Dec 2011 11:16:51 +0000

Researchers at the Institute of Biomedicine, Aarhus University have found a new piece in the puzzle of why increased blood pressure (hypertension) happens, and the results have been published in the recognised journal “Circulation”.

 Professor Dr Christian Aalkjær from the Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, in cooperation with other researchers has for the first time proved how the health of the cells in the small veins can possibly have an influence on blood pressure. Some people are naturally predisposed to hypertension, as they have a gene that codes a very important protein which transports what we sometimes call ”the baking powder” (bicarbonate) into the cells of the smallest veins. This protects the cells from getting acidic. And when the cells  become acidic they lose the ability to contract. This influences the resistance that the blood meets when flowing through the body, and the higher the resistance, the higher the blood pressure.

”Well yes, we have now come a little further to understanding the mystery of increased blood pressure in human beings”, Christian Aalkjær confirms.

”And this is very important knowledge to help us move forward – but also we have to underline that this still foundational research, and that it will not have an impact on treatment for a few years still.”

Read more about Biomedin at Aarhus University, Denmark

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1000 international students gathered at Summer University Tue, 13 Dec 2011 09:01:13 +0000

This year around 1000 students from all over the world attended courses at the summer university in Aarhus, Denmark. Throughout July and August more than 80 courses were offered within the fields of Humanities, Theology, Social Sciences, Health Sciences, Natural Sciences, Agricultural Sciences, Business and Educational Sciences.

In 2012 Aarhus University will repeat success. The programme is already to be found on the website: www.

All teaching at AU Summer   University is based on current   research and has a strong   international perspective. The close   link between research and education   ensures the quality and depth of the   courses. Lecturers are partly   academic staff from Aarhus   University and partly international   guest lecturers.

AU Summer University takes place on campus in the architecturally renowned yellow-brick buildings in the beautiful university park. At campus you will have access to a helpdesk and service centre. Addresses and building locations will be announced later.

AU Summer University is divided into two consecutive terms. In each term, students can earn either 5 or 10 ECTS credits depending on course selection and duration at Bachelor, Master and PhD level. All courses are conducted in English and following the terms below:

     Term 1, 2011
      4 July – 22 July (5 ECTS) 

      4 July – 29 July (10 ECTS)

     Term 2, 2011
     1 August – 19 August (5 ECTS) 

     1 August – 26 August (10 ECTS)

is 15 March 2011 and 1 June for the second round. Click here…

Application deadline

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New Health Research will be presented in January Fri, 09 Dec 2011 14:44:34 +0000

In January more than 500 PhD students at Faculty of Health Sciences will present their research projects to at the annual PhD Day. With poster presentations and lectures, international speakers and political debaters from the medical world, the PhD Day has room for both the individual project and the big picture.

The PhD Day is a yearly opportunity for the PhD students to see the work of their colleagues, to network and to be inspired. The day provides a friendly environment for students to show their efforts and test their presentation and dissemination skills.









‘Successful supervision – a two-way process’
Internationally renowned scientists and experts are invited to give talks that inspire and motivate. This coming January we have the pleasure of welcoming Professor Sir Andrew McMichael, Director of the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, JR Hospital Headington, Oxford. Theme of the day is “Successful supervision”
As a pioneer in research education Faculty of Health Sciences has more than 30 years of experience, and central to the consistent quality of the education offered here at HEALTH are our supervisors. These are researchers employed at HEALTH or Aarhus University Hospital recognized internationally for their results and academic knowledge.
Similarly, the importance of dedicated and ambitious PhD students prepared to take the initiative in the collaboration can not be underestimated.
Read more about the PhD day…   

In 2011 Nobel Laureate Professor Sir John E. Walker from the Medical Research Council in Cambridge talked at the PhD Day about his journey into the mitochondria and towards the absolute research elite. Before a packed auditorium Walker – in a personal and witty way – talked about what he saw as the three defining factors for any researcher:

  • That you are passionate and determined about what you do
  • That you have help and support, including financial support
  • That you remember that research is an opportunity to contribute to society









 Nobel Laureate Sir John E. Walker at Aarhus University campus

In 1997 Sir John E. Walker shared the Nobel Prize with Professor Paul D. Boyer for their explanation of the enzymatic process that creates adenosine triphosphate (ATP). And another Nobel Prize winner that year was Professor Jens Chr. Skou from Aarhus University for the first discovery of an ion-transporting enzyme, Na+, K+-ATPase.








 In 1997, Professor Jens Christian Skou from Aarhus University was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his description of the sodium-potassium pump – a small, but vital mechanism located in every cell of the body.This is partly because, by pumping sodium ions out of the cell, the pump maintains a salt balance that is necessary for the function of muscles and nerves.

Read more about the life of the Phd students at Aarhus University: 
Read more about the Nobel Prize winners:

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The road to a PhD is not straight, but zigzag Wed, 07 Dec 2011 16:30:11 +0000

Before I started my PhD study, I acted like many other young men who are about to start science life. I was full of energy and passion. I told myself I should work hard and got my paper published on big journals—like Nature, and Science within two years. After nearly one year’s PhD life, I realized that this might not be possible for every PhD student. This week was not easy to me. My favorite project that is also very ambitious produced negative results, which means the whole hypothesis of the project is not working somehow. This could be due to many reasons, one of them could be this is just impossible in biology.

My supervisor and I discussed about all the possibilities and alternative methods. We agreed that we shouldn’t just throw it away. Instead we should slow down and look for if there is any other strategy to get our goal. This is the first time I learned from my own experience that the truth is like the big ocean and our knowledge is just like a small brook. There is huge difference between the final result and the rationale. As a PhD student who is approaching the truth with very limited knowledge, we are almost doomed to have a zigzag road in science. So be resilient, I told myself.

Yujia Cai,
PhD at Aarhus University

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A focus on translational research Tue, 06 Dec 2011 14:31:04 +0000

After I got my Master degree, I asked myself two questions.
No. 1: are you really interested in biology?
No.2: what am I really interested in? My answer to the first question is YES! To the second question-to be honest-I didn’t have a clear answer at that time. However, in the deep heart, I knew I wanted to do something more practical and useful although I didn’t know what exactly it was.

By chance, I noticed a PhD program in Aarhus University that puts an emphasis on translational medicine. I told myself maybe I should have a try. So I did, and I am happy that I am here now.  There is a strong translational research atmosphere here in Department of Human Genetics which now is part of the newly built Department of Biomedicine.  Without walking out of the building, I can find many colleagues who are interested in translational medicine especially gene therapy. One month after my arrival in Aarhus, the world’s largest funder of biomedical research—NIH—approved to establish a new center devoted to speeding therapies from bench to the bedside. It’s a good era for translational biomedicine research… 

/Yujia Cai,
PhD at Aarhus University

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Aarhus B4U Fri, 02 Dec 2011 09:32:21 +0000

Welcome to “The world’s smallest big city” or “The biggest village of the world” as called by locals. After being selected as a Youth Goodwill Ambassador, Denmark, I came to know more into details about the development being done and initiated by Aarhus Municipality in Branding AarhUS. It also broadened my knowledge in knowing the effort that they are putting to make the city more internationalized and the process is quite visible. Already Aarhus is a house for more than 40 thousand students and is also defined as Youth City of Denmark, as its maximum population lies in Youth. Here I have tried compiling my thoughts about this happiest city into 4Bs.

 1B is Books which is nothing but Students. Aarhus University (AU) stands in top ranks universities of the world and students from all over the world are keen to get into AU for their higher studies. AU as an international university has a University International centre
(UIC; which is keen and active in finding the solution for all the problems of students, so the Internationals feel at home. From CPR registration (Health Insurance card) to finding accommodation, it has given a relief to some extent. Believe me it was much difficult for me 2 years back when I had to find everything on my own. Dealing with everyday practical issues is not an easy job for newcomer. “The Mentor Buddy program” initiated by various faculties has helped many newcomers to get sync into the new place culturally and socially. Good news for all new comers is that Aarhus is looking forward to build a complete International Dormitory which will be soon available for new comers, now I envy all of you and wish that these facilities were there when I was a newcomer ;-).

 2B is Bike which is an important means of transportation of any student living in Aarhus. Don’t get surprised when you see everyone here (Professor to Students) on bike. It’s healthy, convenient and yes economical too. Not all but almost everything is in hand’s reach by bike here. The Aarhusians are really bike lovers. Whether it is cold, dark winters or bright sunny summers they have no excuses in escaping bike ride. I was impressed by the reply given to me by my supervisor when I was finding excuses from the winters here. Once I asked, Isn’t it too cold during winters to ride bike. And the reply was you don’t have to excuse the weather it is more to blame what you are wearing. So don’t find excuses rather find the right clothes :-).

 3B is for Business which means jobs. There are many lectures being conducted by AU as well as International community in Denmark to find the place for you (future goals) and for your girl friend/ spouse (present time). Till your companion is not able to find jobs/position, UIC keeps organizing lectures for all the researchers. The University is internationalized and so far I didn’t found language as a barrier in the campus but I must admit language is the first barrier if you are looking for jobs or something on public website and UIC provides many language courses within university premises to make things easy for you and your spouse if you have long term plans in Denmark. I am six time drop out from the language course but still I have not lost faith. It’s all how you cope up your timings with work and after work language classes.

Aros Rainbow Panaroma View, which makes into headlines of New York Times.

4B is Beer, which is actually the cultural / social activity. As from my last blog I said that Danes are like pineapples so you need a pint of beer to peel that first layer. It’s a funny saying which I rhyme usually that If you want to be a friend with Dane, have a mug of beer but if you want to be a close friend bring crate of beer, then rest is the history :-). We, as Asians, our every gossip start and end at “Cup of Tea”. Here the gossips are same, only the “Tea Stalls” have been replaced by “Beer Bars”. Well if you are interested in knowing Indian culture or festivals, is the website which will bring you closer to Indian culture here in Aarhus. You can have a glimpse of Bollywood dancing from the below video. Yes, yes I know I am a horrible Dancer ;-).

Best Wishes,

Dr Mohit Kothari, BDS, PhD Fellow

School of Dentistry, Aarhus University, Denmark

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Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy prevents relapses in recurrent depressions. New results from Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences place the effects of this psychological treatment on an equal footing with medicinal relapse prophylaxis.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is an effective manner of preventing depressions. This is the conclusion drawn by PhD student Jacob Piet and Professor Esben Hougaard from Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences in the first systematic meta-analysis, which gathers previous research on the effects of mindfulness in recurrent depressions.

An alternative to medicine
Systematic training in mindfulness has proven successful as a measure of prophylaxis for persons suffering from recurrent depressions. For these persons, the mindfulness training reduces the risks of a relapse by 34 per cent. This number increases to 43 per cent for persons who have previously undergone three or more depressive incidents. The results are noticeable, says Jacob Piet.

– The results can change the treatment in the future. Right now, patients who have undergone at least three depressive incidents are advised to continue sustained treatment with antidepressants, which they sometimes have to use for the remainder of their lives. Research indicates that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can be equally effective in terms of preventing new depressive incidents, says Jacob Piet.

He stresses that there has been found no adverse effects in connection with the mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, but rather that the treatment can have side benefits in the form of fewer depressive residual symptoms and an increased quality of life. For many recovering patients with a substantial risk of relapse, the mindfulness training can prove an attractive alternative to continued medicinal treatment, however, mindfulness does require an active commitment and a continued completion of the exercises.

Depression is a common illness with a lifetime risk of approximately 20 per cent.
It is a very agonising illness, which is also very costly for society.

WHO – the World Health Organization – estimates that the illness will constitute
the largest health economical burden in the Western world by 2030. Depressive
incidents can be effectively treated either medicinally or by using psychotherapy,
however, the risk of a relapse is considerable. For persons, who have previously
been depressed, the risk of a relapse is somewhere between 50 and 90 per cent,
and the risk increases after each depressive incident.
Effective prophylaxis is therefore a top priority.

Read more:

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Cancer cells sent on Chinese space journey Tue, 22 Nov 2011 12:07:29 +0000

Aarhus professor currently testing thyroid cancer cells in weightless conditions in Chinese spacecraft.

Live human cancer cells are out in space right now – more specifically in the Chinese Shenzhou 8 capsule, which was launched from Inner Mongolia on 1 November.

The cells’ journey into space is part of a research project headed by Denmark’s only professor of space medicine – German-born Daniela Grimm, Aarhus University. The aim is to find out how cancer cells – in this case from a patient with a highly aggressive form of thyroid cancer – behave in a state of weightlessness.

The Aarhus professor has previously worked with simulated weightlessness on Earth, and she has shown a 30% increase in cell death in thyroid cancer samples. In experiments with other cells, she has tested the effect of simulated weightlessness on board aircraft.

According to the plan, the samples should return to Earth on 18 November, and Professor Grimm will study the impact on the cancer cells of ten days of real weightlessness in space – a research project that, when all comes to all, could contribute to new opportunities for treating cancer.

This research project is just one of seventeen biological and medical experiments taking place right now on the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft.

Read more about the project:

Read more about Daniela Grimm’s research

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PFC substances increase risk of breast cancer Fri, 18 Nov 2011 16:16:56 +0000

A new research project involving Greenland women with breast cancer shows for the first time a clear link between the risk of breast cancer and exposure to perfluorocarbons found in products such as raincoats, pizza trays and baking paper. More substances ought to be prohibited according to the Aarhus University researcher behind the study.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in the Western world. In Denmark alone, approximately 4,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and the number is growing. Research results from Aarhus University indicate that the commonly used perfluorocarbons, also known as PFC substances, can be a risk factor for developing breast cancer. PFC substances belong to the group of so-called POPs (persistent organic pollutants), which are resistant to degradation.

“Our studies show that, compared with women in the control group, the women with breast cancer in the study had significantly higher blood levels of not only PFC substances, but also chemicals such as PCB and organic pesticides known to be resistant to degradation in the environment. It appears that the high levels of these substances cause hormonal disturbances in addition to presenting a risk for the development of breast cancer,” says Centre Director and Professor in Human Environmental Toxicology, Eva Bonefeld-Jørgensen from Aarhus University, who continues:

“We already know that a number of environmental chemicals, including PCB, cause hormonal disturbances, and that high levels of the substances constitute a risk factor for developing breast cancer. However, it hasn’t previously been documented that PFC substances, which are commonly used in the industrial sector, constitute a significant risk factor in the development of breast cancer, probably because it was generally believed that the substances didn’t accumulate in the body due to their insolubility in fat.”

Professor Bonefeld-Jørgensen has researched hormone-disturbing substances for the last fifteen years. She and a number of other researchers from Aarhus University, Greenland and Canada studied thirty-one Greenland women diagnosed with breast cancer during the period 2000–2003. This corresponds to more than 80% of all Greenland women diagnosed with breast cancer during that period.

More knowledge about risk factors

In the study, the researchers compared questionnaires and blood samples from women suffering from breast cancer with a control group of 115 healthy Greenland women. The blood samples were analysed for hormone-disturbing substances and the amount of POP substances, including PFCs.

Professor Bonefeld-Jørgensen reports that breast cancer was a relatively unknown phenomenon in Greenland until 1966, but there has been a significant increase in the number of cases since then. One of the reasons for studying breast cancer in Greenland women was thus the opportunity to learn more about the causes of the disease.

“There’s no doubt that the Greenland population in the last 40–50 years has increasingly adopted the Western lifestyle, and that this to some extent explains the increase. However, after correction for known risk factors such as smoking, a high BMI and age, our figures also show that PFC substances play a major role in the risk of developing breast cancer,” she says.

Researchers now plan to conduct similar studies with Danish women.

PFC substances are difficult to avoid

PFC substances can be found in products such as raincoats, Teflon coating, pizza trays, potato crisp bags, baking paper, impregnating agents, nail polish, dental floss and even in meat and other foodstuffs, so they are difficult to avoid.

“These substances are so enormously useful in our daily lives. Greaseproof paper is perfect for packed lunches for the kids, impregnation makes jackets waterproof, and the Teflon coating prevents steaks from sticking to the frying pan. The problem is just that the PFC substances in such products now turn out to be absorbed and stored in the body, and this really has consequences for our health,” Professor Bonefeld-Jørgensen explains.

Labelling of food packaging

According to Professor Bonefeld-Jørgensen, the new knowledge about PFC substances means that food packaging should also be labelled in the future.

“Now that we know the packaging itself can also be harmful to health, it’s obviously important that consumers are informed from now on about the substances contained in the packaging. Today you can buy eco-labelled baking paper without perfluorocarbons, for example. However, in most cases, consumers don’t have the slightest chance of knowing whether the packaging contains PFC substances,” she concludes.

The results of the study have just been published in the international journal Environmental Health

Professor Eva Cecilie Bonefeld-Jørgensen
Centre Director
Centre for Arctic Environmental Medicine
Department of Public Health, Aarhus University
DK–8000 Aarhus C
Tel. +45 8942 6162 / +45 2899 2480

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International students happy with Denmark Tue, 15 Nov 2011 14:07:53 +0000

The majority of international students in Denmark are satisfied with their education, and 4 out of 5 would recommend studying in Denmark. This is the result of a brand new survey concerning the experiences of more than 5,500 students who have studied in Denmark. The survey was conducted in the majority of European countries by the British analyst bureau i-graduate.

Since 2008 when the first “i-graduate survey” was made, satisfaction with the arrival procedures in Denmark has increased, alongside the welcome programmes of the institutions and the contact time with teachers. Furthermore, it is easier to find housing now than in 2008.

International students fit into the Danish job market
The survey also shows that international students in Denamrk more often have a job alongside their studies than international students in other European countries, and that these jobs are relevant to their studies. Moreover, students in Denmark spend more hours a week studying and receiving counseling than international students in others European countries.

Support and socialisation can still be improved
The 2011 report does also highlight the aspects which need improvement. International students note that the counseling at Danish institutions and other support services does not fully fulfill their expectations. Furthermore, international students still find it a little hard to get in touch with their fellow Danish students – but they are still as satisfied with their education, that 4 out of 5 would recommend studying in Denmark.

Learn more about your possibilities at Aarhus University- Denamrk:

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PhD Course Work: A High Value Teaching Fri, 11 Nov 2011 13:22:16 +0000

PhD course work at the Faculty of Health, AU is a two way system. The aims of these courses are to upgrade PhD students and solve the problems which they encounter in their own research projects. There are more the 30 PhD courses conducted every session (6 months). I consider these courses as high valued because it’s thought by research group leaders who are working in that field and considered experts.

One of the key features that makes PhD course unique is its teaching pool. The teaching group usually consists of experts from AU, Industries like Taconic, Dako and other universities like Copenhagen, Aalborg, and Odense etc. These industrial experts unable students to understand current problems faced by industries.

The Course topics are specifically selected for PhD students with a view to enhance learning and research-based strategies. To mention courses like Laboratory animal science, Experimental surgical techniques in rodents, Molecular Medicine gives in-depth hands on training on experimental techniques. Other courses like Magnetic Resonance, Protein profiling gives updated information in current research.  

Internationalization of AU has given rise to many new PhD courses. Today, almost all the courses are thought in English and there are many PhD courses which are oriented towards International students.  Courses like Effective Speaking, Medical Scientific English, Scientific English Presentation etc., are aiming to help international as well as native students in developing their skills of communication which orelse would be difficult. Other courses like Health communication – Scientific communication in English for health workers, Media training, Scientific Writing-and-Peer Review helps to improve PhD students writing skills.

A PhD course consists of Lectures, Group discussions, presentations by students, hands on training, Assignments etc.

Most of these Lectures in the course will be focusing on day to day experimental problems faced by the researchers and ways to overcome it. During the course, students will be asked to present their own problems which will be critically discussed. These discussions are always fruitful with a view of narrowing down student problem. This mode of teaching always helps to avoid the common mistakes made by students in their own projects.

Group discussions and assignments given during the course are research oriented and help the students to hone their research skills. Graduate school Victor Albert Building has specially designed classrooms with multimedia technology which makes learning experience even better.

Overall the courses at the faculty of health give new experience of learning and all-round development of PhD students.

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Growing up in the country helps to prevent asthma Mon, 07 Nov 2011 09:49:12 +0000

Children who grow up on a pig or dairy cattle farm have a natural vaccination against the form of work-related asthma from which farmers frequently suffer. This has now been proved for the first time ever by researchers from Aarhus University.

The study, which has been published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, demonstrates that the risk of developing the non-allergic form of asthma is reduced by almost fifty per cent if you are exposed to the kind of environment found on pig and dairy cattle farms when you are a child. On the other hand, the risk of work-related asthma is doubled if you grow up in an urban environment and become a farmer as an adult.

The researchers have been monitoring all the students of agricultural science in Denmark from two different year groups and for 15 years – a total of 2,000 students. And the process has been performed on a regular basis, which makes this study unique.

“We now know that children who grow up in this kind of agricultural environment are protected until the age of 20-25, and there are many indications that the effect lasts even longer than this,” explains Professor Torben Sigsgaard from the Institute of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at Aarhus University.

“The perspectives of this study mean that if we can identify the mechanism involved and then find out how to have an influence on it, we may be able to help a great number of people in all walks of life,” he says.

The study should be seen in the light of the fact that farmers in general have a greater risk of suffering from asthma and chronic bronchitis.

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Can we emulate a giraffe’s ability to regulate blood pressure? Thu, 03 Nov 2011 10:21:02 +0000

More and more people suffer from high blood pressure, which dramatically increases the risk of dangerous diseases . But it´s possible that giraffes have the answer to the many questions reserachers have come across in their work regarding how to regulate blood pressure.

Most people know the feeling of seeing stars, when getting up too quickly. But imagine how overwhelming it would be if we were 4.5 m tall and had a blood pressure twice as high! That is what 30 researchers from Aarhus University alongside other institutions have been investigating. They spent a month together in South Africa to get to know more about the distinctive features of giraffes´ biology. Working with 15 giraffes, researchers were in particular investigating how it is possible for a giraffe to adjust to the extreme African weather whist maintaining a normal blood pressure: an ability that humans do not posses.

When a giraffe bends its head to the ground, their blood pressure should increase dramatically – in fact, small blood vessels should naturally burst and their eyes should simply fall out of their sockets. Why doesn’t this happen?


  1. Human beings with high blood pressure often have problems with their kidneys. The blood pressure of giraffes is twice as high as ours, so why do they not suffer with similar kidney issues?
  2. Human beings with high blood pressure often suffer from leg swellings. How are giraffes able to avoid this, despite standing still for hours in the heat of the savanna?
  3. Human beings with high blood pressure often suffer from an enlarged heart because of the enhanced work load  in their circulation. Why are giraffes not afflicted with this?  

In order to measure the blood pressure of a giraffe in different positions, one of the world’s largest operating tables was built. Each table can be tilted and raised, and is 4m long by 2.5m wide. To then be able to measure the blood pressure, pulse and temperature of the giraffe, special wireless equipment was designed to be attached around its neck.

The researchers found that when a giraffe bends their neck downwards in order to drink, the blood pressure by their heart decreases, thereby preventing the pressure near their heads from rising. Furthermore, at the same time the very small blood vessels in the head become narrower in order to prevent them from bursting.
So now next step for the researchers is to find out, how humans can emulate this ability to regulate blood pressure.

For further information:
Emil Brøndum

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Sharing resources and knowledge: a dynamic activity at Faculty of Health Fri, 28 Oct 2011 10:16:11 +0000

One of greatest advantage of doing a research in Aarhus University is its research environment.  Today there are more than 570 enrolled PhD students under 12 themes at Faculty of Health, AU who are continuously interacting with each other in many ways. It gives a good opportunity for young researchers like me to network in your research and learn ways to present research project.

Networking is vital for any research. Not an easy task for international students and for a person who is at the beginning of his research career.  When I arrived to Aarhus a year back, for my PhD studies, it was one of the challenging things in my mind. Today, I realise that networking in research is easy in Aarhus University. There are 5 reasons which made me to accept this,

1.There are many research groups at Faculty of Health who are actively organising various symposium and conferences to foster the need of research. Every month there are many seminars, invited talks, journal clubs which discuss about the current topics in life science. Kjeldgaard Lectures, Brian Clark Lectures, Institute seminars are some of the lectures which invites international research speakers. Recently, there were two symposiums conducted by the Water and Salt Institute, AU and International Society of Nephrology which was attended by many internationally well known researchers. Water and Salt Institute had arranged a high value talk by Peter Agre, 2003 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry for discovering Aquaporin.

2.Currently Faculty of Health is having more than 75 active journal clubs on various fields of health. These journal clubs are formed by research students who present current issue, discoveries related to their topics. These clubs are meant as a source for research students to develop their discussion and debating skills in research. One of the upcoming journal club “Biological Transporters” at Department of Medical Biochemistry has grasped more interest among the research students.

3. Faculty of Health has State-of-art technologies which are specifically dedicated to research. These technologies are open for students who are willing to learn and hence, collaborating in research is an easy task at the university. Pooling of resources and knowledge sharing has become the main objective at the faculty. Restructuring of departments at the university and formation of UniLab is the clear evidence of this.

4. PhD association at the faculty is constantly updating the PhD students about the new requirements and guiding them throughout research. “Ask the Editor” and “Handing in your thesis” are the two of many upcoming events which targets research students to upgrade their knowledge and learn from the experienced peoples.

5. The important factor which governs all the above reasons is ‘Openness’ for discussion and new ideas. Most of ideas are originated and executed by the research students. A very good example of this is PhD day at the Faculty of Health. PhD day is dedicated for PhD students who participate and present their research findings which will be judged by experienced researchers. 

As a whole sharing resources and knowledge is active process at the faculty of health to achieve a common goal – development.

Best regards
Ravikiran Mahadevappa, Institute of Biomedicin,
Aarhus university, Denmark


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Welcome to the land of pineapples Mon, 24 Oct 2011 16:02:38 +0000

Coming from the land of sand dunes (The Thar Desert) to the snow white Aarhus was a vital step for the beginning of a new career. Being a Dentist, lot of my colleagues questioned why into Research when you have healthy living with a Dental chair. But someone needs to take different path to explore the new aspect and I followed my passion into Research. Before entering into the new culture the verse made me remember to do well was “Be the Roman if in Rome” and things will be dealt in more joyous way. And yes after completing almost 2 years, I have gathered bags of good memories from this happiest city in the world (

Youth Goodwill Ambassador Denmark, 2011

I know lots of you are still struck with the title but I am sure you will      completely agree if you follow my way. The only thing, which takes you  close to the Danes, is that you have to be the first one to break the ice. They  are just like pineapples, only the first layer is difficult to peel but once you  remove that barrier they are real soft, sweet and friendly deep inside like a  pineapple.  I cannot deny the fact why it is so true about Denmark and the  below reference prove my hypothesis more strong, Oops I am being more  scientific in using words, well that is the way we deal in research :)

No heirarchy
The best part of the University is “NO HEIRARCHY” level. Yes the word requires Caps lock, as it matters the most for the students who come from Asian background where questioning teachers is considered more like an argument but Scandinavia has made me more open to built and express the ideas. No mind blocks, No spoon-feeding only productive learning. Calling by name to the Professor makes atmosphere friendlier and you feel more interactive when the barrier of subordinate is vanquished. The usual social meet up with department makes the Internationals feel like at home. Our Department quite often organizes social meet once a month which makes the working environment friendlier. Some of the glimpses are hereJ.

And of course for the students the best meeting place is Friday Bar, where you see the whole University doing rock and roll with their fellow University mate. In short the place to start your weekend.

So keep smiling, as you are Aarhus. See you in Aarhus soon. Keep looking for my new post soon.

Dr Mohit Kothari
BDS, PhD Fellow
School of Dentistry, Aarhus University, Denmark

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Five new schizophrenia genes are found Wed, 19 Oct 2011 22:27:54 +0000

In one of the largest research projects that Aarhus University in Denmark has ever seen, researchers are discovering new ”risk-genes” that have an impact on the development of schizophrenia.

Researchers have identified five new risk-genes that can have an influence on developing schizophrenia, discovered by researchers from Denmark, other European countries, the US and Australia.

The results of this significant investigation have been published in Nature Genetics and hope to give scientists the key to understanding why this psychological illness develops.

”We know that schizophrenia at a high level is inherited, but we do not know much about the specific reasons for developing the illness. This new discovery of the five risk genes is an enormous step towards a deeper understanding. In about 10-15 years, this discovery may result in concrete treatments to combating schizophrenia” explains Anders Børglum, a professor in genetic medicine from Aarhus University.

Together with colleagues at Aarhus University, the research by Børglum and others has contributed to the global knowledge about schizophrenia. Furthermore, they have increased the chances for better medical treatment in the future.

50,695 people investigated

The most extensive investigation ever undertaken, 50,695 persons from all over the world have taken part in this investigation.

”More than 1000 gene variations have been found. It appears that these variations are part of the reason for the development of schizophrenia. Until now we have only known a few of them, so every time we identify a new cause, it bring us an important step closer to fully understanding what causes the illness” Anders Børglum explains. “Now that we know that these five gene variations are involved in the development of the illness, our next step is to understand the mechanisms and development of the disease”.

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