New Head of Department: “The pharmaceutical area has always been very close to my heart”
On 1 April, Professor Dan Stærk becomes Head of the Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology. One of his ambitions is to “set the department’s committed and talented staff free”.
Why did you take the job as Head of Department?
Because the pharmaceutical area has always been very close to my heart. We have so many extremely talented and committed employees and students at ILF. To me, they are the department. They deserve a "Stærk"-leader (strong leader) who is responsive and truly dedicated to their development
I am also committed to shaping the two departments at PharmaSchool together with the Department's creative and inventive students, making sure they continue to provide socially relevant research, innovation, teaching and communication at the highest level.
1994: BSc from Odense University (Chemistry and Molecular Biology/Biochemistry).
1997: MSc from Odense University (Chemistry and Molecular Biology/Biochemistry).
2000: PhD from the Danish University of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
2000-2003: Assistant Professor at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the Danish University of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
2003-2008: Associate Professor at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Copenhagen.
2008-2012: Professor with special duties at the Department of Basic Sciences and Environment, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen.
2011-2016: Taishan Distinguished Expert and Scholar (similar to Adjunct Professor) at Shandong Analysis and Test Center, Shandong Province, China.
2012-2014: Professor with special duties at the Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen.
2014-: Full Professor at the Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen.
- 2001 Teacher of the Year at the Royal Danish School of Pharmacy.
- 2004 HN Prize from the Hede Nielsen Family Foundation.
- 2018 Teacher of the Year at PharmaSchool, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.
If you could choose three things to focus on as Head of Department at ILF, what would they be?
More management, less organisation
We need a flat, efficient organisation with a clear division of responsibilities and communications paths. All staff and students should be set free, giving them more time to focus on the core tasks they are passionate about.
We need to make sustainability a priority in the organisation, in teaching and in research. The first step is to make sure all our research and teaching labs gain LEAF certification. But we should also strive to make sustainability an integrated and natural part of all other activities at the Department.
The two Pharma departments' strategic development in education and outreach should go hand in hand with their strategic development in research and innovation. The departments should have strong, clear profiles that complement one another, and which together make up a united, strong Pharma brand.
“I am glad that Dan agreed to head the Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology. He has extensive knowledge of and experience with the pharmaceutical area, and then he is talented, committed and full of ideas. I have no doubt that the Department, staff and students are in good hands with Dan as Head of Department.”
- Dean Bente M. Stallknecht
Which challenges does the Department face, and what are your thoughts on those challenges?
I would much rather talk about our many opportunities. For example, the negative aspects of the Government's new educational reform are currently attracting a lot of attention, but certainly the reform also creates opportunities for those who are willing to think out of the box.
It is important that we dare to discuss whether the proposed vocational master's degree programme is in fact a golden opportunity to educate pharmaceutical masters with strong, practice-oriented competences in clinical pharmacy. And whether the three-year masters' degree programme could be a chance to educate strong specialists in medicinal science.
In addition, I believe we have a good chance – through recruitment of the best talents and strategic cooperation with external partners – to position ourselves as a strong player in the competition for external research and innovation funding.
So let us focus on opportunities instead of limitations. Let us tell the good story about this amazing department.