22 June 2014

Elisenda Feliu receives prestigious Sapere Aude grant


Assistant Professor Elisenda Feliu has received a Research Leader grant from the DFF/Sapere Aude programme. The grant is aimed at very talented researchers who have demonstrated the ability for original research at a high international level.

Elisenda Feliu Trijueque

Elisenda Feliu Trijueque received support for the project "Development of mathematical methods to analyze mathematical models in molecular biology." In a press release from the Ministry of Education Elisenda explains her project:

"I've always been fascinated by the fact that life is thousands of interactions between small molecules in the body. It seems random, but the interactions form the structures that makes us act like we do. Researchers try to understand these structures and I would like to contribute."

Elisenda took her BSc, MSc and PhD from University of Barcelona. Then she added an MSc in Bioinformatics for Health Sciences. She was in 2010-12 postdoctoral scholar at the Bioinformatics Research Centre, Aarhus University, and from 2012 to 2013 postdoctoral scholar at the Department of Mathematical Sciences, UCPH, where she is currently assistant professor.

"The Sapere Aude programme will give me the opportunity to start my own group, which means that for the first time I will be fully responsible for guiding PhD students and postdoctoral scholars. It will be a vital, challenging and exciting turning point in my research career.
“The grant also provides resources to participate in conferences, organize workshops in Copenhagen, and make research visits abroad, particularly in the U.S. where I have established partnerships with top researchers in my research field."

From models to software

The rapid development of experimental techniques in molecular biology has led to huge amounts of data produced daily in laboratories worldwide. Due to the complexity of the data it not always possible to use intuitively based arguments to gain knowledge about the biological processes that generated them. As a consequence, mathematical models are increasingly used to support, complement and extrapolate experimental findings.

Unfortunately, the mathematical models of molecular biology often contain many variables and parameters, which mean that the models can’t be easily analyzed. Elisenda Felius project sets as its main objective to develop new mathematical theory to better understand the models' properties.

"The idea behind the project is that non-mathematicians should be able to use the project results. Therefore, we will mainly focus on developing mathematical tools that can be implemented as software”, says Elisenda.

Sapere Aude?

Sapere means to think, understand, reflect. Independent use of reason is emphasised. A direct translation might be ‘dare to think for yourself’ or ‘dare the free thought’.