About the UNIK research initiative – University of Copenhagen

Food, Fitness & Pharma > About the initiative

About the UNIK - Food, Fitness and Pharma research initiative

Here you can find general information about the UNIK - Food, Fitness & Pharma research initiative. Follow the links below to read further about the specific topics.


The UNIK project is supported by a 120 mio. dkr (16 mio Euro) grant   from the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation .

The project runs for 5 years, starting September 2009 – and is expected to continue beyond this timeframe.  

The collaboration between research groups from 17 different institutes at 7 faculties was made possible by this unique form of granting, paving the way for a novel synergistic research approach. 

Til toppen The challenge/background of the initiative

The occurrence of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and related cardiovascular  and musculoskeletal disorders has increased dramatically over the last couple of decades. This world-wide epidemic has evolved and is recognized as one of the top global public health challenges, with staggering social and economical consequences.

The reasons for this are only partly known, but it appears to be related mainly to a general change in lifestyle towards poor eating habits and lack of physical activity, combined with genes predisposing for these diseases.

Til toppen The aim of the initiative

Through the UNIK-FFP we aim at identifying and understanding the interrelated environmental, genetic and epigenetic causes of obesity, diabetes and associated lifestyle diseases.

The ambition is to develop new means for preventing and curing these conditions including better, health-promoting food; optimal fitness programs; novel and efficient regimens for changing people’s lifestyle; and new and better pharmaceuticals.

This ambition is pursued using a cross disciplinary approach, bringing together world class scientific competences within food technology, nutrition, GI-tract physiology and endocrinology, genetics, epidemiology, immunology, systems biology, molecular pharmacology and drug discovery as well as sociological, psychological and economical sciences.

Til toppen Major questions investigated by the initiative

Mapping of the ‘hormone cocktail’ responsible for the fast ‘cure’ of type 2 diabetes and the sustained weight loss following gastric bypass surgery. Can this be induced by food or mimicked by a drug?
To be answered by the research line on Food, Gut Hormones, and Pharma

Why is fitness healthy – and much more than ‘burning off calories’? And how much is enough?
To be answered by the research line on Fitness and Muscles

Why do we stick to ‘unhealthy habits’? And which changes in the environment will make our society healthier?
To be answered by the research line on Social Sciences and Humanities.

How does our genetic background – the ‘cards that we have on our hands’ - make us particular susceptible to particular aspects of lifestyle (fat, sugar, inactivity etc )
To be answered by the research line on Genetics and Epidemiology