Mr. Mogens Bundgaard-Nielsen, Former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Lundbeck Foundation
David B. Vodušek (DBV): Mr Bundgaard-Nielsen, you have been director of the Lundbeck Foundation. Can you explain to our readers the facts about this foundation and its relations to Lundbeck, the well known pharmaceutical company?
Mogens Bundgaard-Nielsen (MBN): The Lundbeck Foundation was established in 1954 by Grete Lundbeck. She was the widow after Hans Lundbeck, the founder of the company H. Lundbeck who died some 10 years earlier. She eventually donated all of her shares in the company to the Foundation, which in essence was established with a dual purpose: to be a good owner of H. Lundbeck and to support the Danish society by charitable activities not least by supporting research. The Lundbeck Foundation is now among the top three Danish so-called Industrial foundations owning three major international companies (H. Lundbeck being one of them), has a solid portfolio of stocks and bonds and is supporting biomedical research with 500 mio. DKK/year.
DBV: I understand it has been under your directorship that the idea of the Brain prize has been conceived. Can you tell us about these beginnings?
MBN: The Lundbeck Foundation established what became known as the ‘Nordic Research Prize for Science’ in the eighties. This prize of 1.5 mio. DDK (split into a personal prize and money for research) recognized outstanding researchers from the Nordic Countries irrespective of research field. In 2007/2008 it was discussed to rejuvenate this prize which had been awarded for nearly 25 consecutive years. At one of the board meetings I brought up the idea that that Lundbeck Foundation should establish a large international personal research prize within neuroscience, which at that time already was the focus area for our charitable activities. After a very meticulous work undertaken by the Foundation’s deputy director Dr. Nils Axelsen investigating the ‘world of prizes’ it was in the summer of 2009 decided to establish Grete Lundbeck European Research Prize – which soon became known as The Brain Prize.
DBV: What has been your vision for the Lundbeck Foundation and the Brain prize? Do you have any comments regarding the present and the future developments?
MBN: It has always been important to me that the Lundbeck Foundation had a clear purpose and that the Foundation should be outspoken in regard to its neuroscience focus. It was the intention that the Prize should be a beacon for neuroscience, a valuable tool in our strive to support Danish neuroscience and not least a flagship for our charitable activities. I am extremely pleased with the developments in the Foundation which financially is doing very well as this means that we have been able to increase our support of Danish based biomedical research with a special focus on neuroscience. And of course I am delighted to see The Brain Prize flourish – a real beacon for neuroscience and the world’s largest prize for neuroscience. It is as if a dream has come true.
DBV: Dear Mr. Bundgaard-Nielsen we thank you for this very informative interview and wish The Brain Prize initiative success for the future.
Interview by David B. Vodušek, Chair EAN Communication Committee