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PhDs battled it out for research awards

Three PhD students from Aarhus University took to the stage at the annual PhD Day on 24 January. They were competing to see which of them could communicate their research best. Their efforts were honoured with the Fogh Nielsen grant of DKK 100,000 in total.

2014.02.04 | Helle Horskjær Hansen

MC Ollie, Jarl-Smart and Callas. These are the names of some of the rappers who were on stage to battle for the MC Fight Night 2013 title. At the PhD Day at Health the names were different but the principle was the same. The participants had to compete using words and convince a panel of judges that their research communication made the most impact.

The three candidates, named Morten Würtz, Søren Dinesen Østergaard and Morten Schmidt, had been told prior to the PhD Day that they were going to be the recipients of the Fogh Nielsen grant, but that they would have to compete for how much of the grant each received. The Fogh Nielsen grant totals DKK 100,000 and is for PhD students on the final part of their course.

Morten Würtz was the recipient of the largest portion of the grant, DKK 50,000, while PhD colleagues Søren Dinesen Østergaard and Morten Schmidt each received DKK 25,000.

Morten Würtz researches into the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases. His focus is especially on the drug Aspirin. Aspirin inhibits the ability of the blood platelets to clump together and thereby prevents the formation of blood clots. In a number of studies, Morten Würtz and a research team have, however, demonstrated different reasons why many patients only have a limited effect of aspirin. The research shows that many patients only experience partial inhibition of the blood platelets and there are many indications that this is associated with an increased risk of blood clots in the heart. In addition, the researchers have shown a number of causes for the reduced effect of aspirin, and Morten Würtz hopes to be able to translate this knowledge into improved treatment and prevention in patients with cardiovascular diseases.

Søren Dinesen Østergaard researches in psychiatry and neuroscience with special focus on studies of depression with psychotic symptoms. Psychotic depression is a serious mental disorder with high mortality, especially because there is a high risk of suicide. Søren Dinesen Østergaard’s primary research question is whether psychotic depression differs from non-psychotic depression in other areas than simply the presence of the psychotic symptoms. The conditions are currently viewed as two sides of the same coin, but he views psychotic depression more as a completely unique pathological picture. To investigate whether this is the case, the researcher is seeking to find differences between the two conditions via clinical, genetic and register-based studies.

Morten Schmidt was one of a team of researchers who discovered that ordinary painkillers more than double the risk of thrombosis in the legs and the lungs. Together with his research colleagues, Morten Schmidt studied more than 8,000 patients who had been diagnosed with a thrombosis in the legs or the lungs between 1999 and 2006. They then studied whether those patients had been given prescriptions for arthritis medicine, the so-called NSAID drugs. And finally, each of these patients was compared to 10 control subjects with the same gender and age. The results showed that the risk of a thrombosis in the legs and the lungs was more than doubled in the patients who took NSAID drugs.

Further information

PhD student Morten Würtz
Aarhus University, Department of Clinical Medicine and
Aarhus University Hospital, Department of Cardiology
Direct tel.: + 45 7845 2029

PhD student Søren Dinesen Østergaard
Aarhus University, Department of Clinical Medicine
Email: sdo@ki.au.dk
Direct tel.: + 45 2557 9050

PhD student Morten Schmidt
Aarhus University, Department of Clinical Medicine and
Aarhus University Hospital, Department of Clinical Epidemiology
Email: msc@dce.au.dk
Direct tel.: +45 8715 5562


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