Elite Research Travel Grant to Human Cell Atlas Project – University of Copenhagen

02 March 2018

Elite Research Travel Grant to Human Cell Atlas Project

Each year the Ministry of Higher Education and Science distributes up to 20 travel grants of each DKK 200,000 under the Elite Research initiative for research stays at world-class research institutions.

This year one of the grants goes to PhD Student Pascal Nordgren Timshel from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research.
The grant will pay for his stay at Stanford University in California, where he will be part of a group headed by one of the world’s leading researchers in single-cell biology, Professor Stephen Quake. Pascal Nordgren Timshel will be participating in the large-scale research project the ’Human Cell Atlas’, which focusses on mapping and identifying all cells types found in the human body.
 
Handling Millions of Data Points
’My stay at Stanford University and participation in the Human Cell Atlas project will both give me valuable expert knowledge of single-cell biology and facilitate long-term collaborations with the leading research groups in the area’, says Pascal Nordgren Timshel.
 
His own research focusses on how bioinformatics and computer algorithms can be used to establish the identity and function of cells and to understand the genetic and cell-specific pathways driving pathogenesis.
 
’The molecular level of detail at which we are able to study cells today raises the fundamental question of what constitutes the identity of a cell and challenges previous definitions of cell types – and their role in pathogenesis. I will be designing effective algorithms able to handle millions of data points and establishing a unifying mathematical and biological definition of the identity of cells. In other words, the project aims to create a map that identifies the “postal code” of each of the thousands of cell types found in the body. When we have completed this map, we can begin to understand the paths leading to disease’, Pascal Nordgren Timshel explains.
 
The Elite Research travel grants are, along with the Elite Research awards, presented by Minister for Higher Education and Science Søren Pind at the award ceremony on 1 March in the Copenhagen Opera House.