Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation Research Communication Prize 2015

Professor Lars Østergaard

Vivid and engaging communicator
Lars Østergaard, a professor at Aarhus University and a consultant at Aarhus University Hospital, has been awarded the Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation Research Communication Prize in recognition of his vivid and engaging way of communicating his research.

"My research focus is infection. Infections are everything that causes fever or everything that’s contagious. It’s an extremely broad field of research, and so if you want to do good research, you must narrow down your focus," says Lars Østergaard.

His focus has been on HIV. Lars Østergaard has conducted research into the prevention of HIV infection in healthy individuals, among other things through efforts to develop a vaccine.  In addition, he has also worked on finding a cure for those who have already contracted HIV.

However, Lars Østergaard is not only being awarded the Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation Research Communication Prize for his research, but also for the way in which he communicates his research.

Lars Østergaard is a vivid and engaging communicator who makes a special effort to communicate his research to the general public. His style is down-to-earth, and he has mastered a wide range of popular research communication genres, including lectures, events and TV appearances.

Research and communication go hand in glove
The prize winner himself could not imagine doing research without also communicating it, and he sees several good reasons for sharing his research findings.

"First of all, it's important to share our results with other international scientists working in the same field of research, and to do so as promptly as possible. In fact, it's inconceivable that any really ground-breaking discoveries will be made by any one person or any one group. They will result from international cooperation. Secondly, the general public has a right to know what is going on. After all, in the vast majority of cases, they have paid for the research, and so they are very much entitled to know what the money is being spent on," says Lars Østergaard. 

He believes that many people are interested in research and in scientific advances, and they genuinely want to know what is happening. 

"In my opinion, the more enlightened a society is, the better society becomes. Research communication is also important from the point of view of recruitment, and the recruitment of future scientists is, of course, critical to ensuring that someone will carry on the work we have started," he says.

Lars Østergaard's research has focused on understanding the link between vaccines and the body's reaction to micro-organisms, and his work has resulted in several international presentations, publications and patents. Throughout his career, he has engaged in strong international cooperation with researchers in Australia, the USA, Europe and increasingly also Guinea-Bissau in Africa.

Most recently, Lars Østergaard has made frequent media appearances in connection with the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, explaining to Danes the course of the disease and the steps needed to prevent its spread.