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Young Professor Takes Over The Challenge Project

Professor Rudi Westendorp is leaving Denmark and the Challenge project “Harnessing the Power of Big Data to Address the Societal Challenge of Ageing”. After 8 years in Denmark and having entered his ‘third age’, he has decided to step down from his academic positions and become emeritus.

“I’ve decided to regain a family life with my wife in the Netherlands. Moreover, I want to take up a series of activities that can withstand the ‘losses’ that will increasingly characterise this part of my life course,” he says.

He will spend his third age, which he calls the gifted years, as a gardener of historical sites. Further, he will go back to his professional roots by helping to innovate health service provisions for older people. Some of the academic insights that feed into these innovations can be found in the book ‘Reablement in Long-Term Care for Older people, for which he was the co-author. It is edited by Tine Rostgaard and will be published at the end of this year.

“I’ve learned a lot during these Nordic years, and I am very grateful to all who have contributed to making it such a profound and positive life experience,” he says leaving the driver’s seat of the Challenge project for a professor of a younger generation.

Professor Majken Karoline Jensen will take over as leader by end of the year, and thus the remaining 1,5 years of the Challenge project funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation will continue as planned with the steering group existing of research collaborators who have been with the project from the beginning.

“I am very grateful to Rudi for running the Challenge project up until this point and we will miss him and his scientific input. While Rudi leaving will definitely feel like an empty chair in our steering group, I think he deserves much credit for providing us from ‘the next generation’ with an ideal situation to take the steering wheel for the remainder of the project. I am extremely grateful for the chance to take a greater role in leading this Challenge project to its successful completion together with the research team”.

Majken K. Jensen has an impressive curriculum vitae including 6 years as faculty (now adjunct professor) at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health from where she was headhunted for Challenge by Rudi Westendorp.

She’s a Professor of Epidemiology in Biology of Ageing and her research includes the identification and evaluation of biomarkers for cardiometabolic diseases and dementia. Her past research group in Boston was focused on blood samples for the identification of risk markers of diseases, whereas in the Challenge project Rudi Westendorp challenged her to shift molecular focus to tissues for clinical epidemiology.

The continuation of the Challenge program will be presented in an internal workshop at the Annual Meeting of the Network for Researchers in Aging, in November.

November 25th, 14.00-16.00 the department of Public Health will host a farewell event for Rudi Westendorp at the CSS campus.