2 May 2019

Access to the Most Advanced Research Facilities in Europe


Within health and medical sciences and the life sciences in general there is a need for establishing the molecular structures of e.g. the proteins in the body. This can be done by observing how proteins spread X-rays, neutrons and electrons. HALOS offers access to both so-called synchrotrons, neutron sources, free-electron lasers and electron microscopes.

Four Huge Facilities
HALOS, the Hanseatic League of Science, is a collaboration between a series of universities in the Oresund/Kattegat/Skagerrak region housing four huge and very unique research facilities: the synchrotron MAX IV, the neutron source ESS, the free-electron laser European XFEL and the electron microscope at DESY. These huge facilities enable researchers to study atoms, proteins and viruses – anything that is too small to be studied using even the most advanced, large microscopes. Whereas MAX IV and ESS are located in Lund, DESY and eXFEL are found in Hamburg.

Parkinson's and Protein Fibres
Associate Professor Annette Langkilde from the Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology is researching protein structures and strives to understand what happens when so-called amyloid fibres are formed and accumulate in the brain of Parkinson's patients. To aid the process of understanding how the fibres emerge and spread, a so-called cross-border research project under the auspices of HALOS could offer new perspectives on her basic research:

'I consider HALOS an opportunity to test brand new ideas and methods – a kind of pilot project that might facilitate larger projects', she says and stresses that the call invites applications for clearly defined projects, possibly based on existing research. This may include funding for PhD students, postdocs or technicians, who can dedicate time to new problems or methods.     

Annette Langkilde explains that free-electron lasers, for instance, make it possible to study how protein structures change over very short time intervals, enabling researchers to monitor and analyse dynamic protein processes. This is made possible by the very intense and pulsating radiation generated by eXFEL.

The actual test using eXFEL draws on various areas of expertise, just as the subsequent data analysis is highly complex. Researchers must therefore work together in teams across fields – and often across national borders. HALOS thus provides an opportunity to launch new collaborations on relevant problems.

UCPH Is Located in a Geographical El Dorado
As more life science projects emerge across Scandinavian borders, a collaboration on using the most advanced research facilities becomes increasingly important. Since February 2019, pharmaceutical research, among others, has greatly benefited from the HALOS collaboration. In general, the location of UCPH is optimal vis-à-vis the new research infrastructures.

The deadline of the first round of applications for funding for cross-border research projects under HALOS is 3 May.

Go to call

HALOS also funds study programmes, summer schools and workshops. 

 About HALOS

  • HALOS focusses on innovation and transfer of technologies, researcher mobility and linking firms and research facilities.
  • HALOS has a budget of EUR 3.6 million.
  • HALOS consists of actors from academia, regions, research facilities and industry.
  • HALOS runs for three years starting on 1 February 2019.
  • For more information about HALOS, please contact Professor Michael Gajhede, Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology mig@sund.ku.dk), who is the Danish HALOS coordinator and a member of the project steering group.
By Charlotte Aabo