Ewan Birney elected as a member of The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters

The honour recognises Birney's contributions to bioinformatics and genomics

Credit: Portrait by Jeff Dowling. Edited by Karen Arnott.

EMBL’s Deputy Director General Ewan Birney has been elected as a corresponding member of The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, in recognition of his contributions to bioinformatics and genomics. 

The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters was founded 280 years ago and is composed of roughly 500 elected members. The Academy works to actively strengthen the position of science and interdisciplinary understanding in Denmark. 

“Being appointed as a corresponding member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters is a great honour, and I look forward to working with other members to help promote interdisciplinary research and discovery,” said Birney.

Scientific career

Ewan Birney is Deputy Director General of EMBL and Director of EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). He completed his PhD at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and in 2000, he became Head of Nucleotide Data at EMBL-EBI, rising through the EMBL ranks ever since. Birney led the analysis of the Human Genome gene set, as well as mouse and chicken genomes. He also led the ENCODE project, focusing on non-coding elements of the human genome. His main areas of research include functional genomics, DNA algorithms, statistical methods to analyse genomic information, and use of images for chromatin structure.

Danish collaborations

Ewan has a long-standing collaboration with Professor Søren Brunak at the University of Copenhagen. In 2018, Søren, Ewan and colleagues were awarded a Novo Nordisk Foundation Challenge grant for a project exploring how life-course data analytics can be used to understand diabetes disease initiation, progression and complications. More recently, they published a paper which describes a statistical model for predicting cancer risk on the basis of national health data.

EMBL has extensive collaboration with Denmark and its scientific organisations. One prominent example is the Danish Research Institute of Translational Neuroscience (DANDRITE). It is a member of the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine, which aims to connect EMBL and Nordic research institutions focusing on diverse approaches to molecular medicine, including infection biology, genomics, and translational neuroscience.

Read the full list of new members on the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters website.


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