Søren Falch Senior Prize to global health pioneer

Central to the creation and development of Centre for International Health, Professor Rune Nilsen is himself most proud of his role in establishing the multidisciplinary doctoral title.

Photo of Professor Rune Nilsen, Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen
Professor Rune Nilsen, Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, UiB.
Hilde K. Kvalvaag

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Educated as a dentist and a pathologist, Rune Nilsen took his doctorate on the basis of the immunological research at Gade’s Institute.

“One has to highlight Rune Nilsen's leadership skills – his abilities for creating a productive environment and his capacity for strategic thinking – making Centre for International Health (CIH) emerge as a centre that gets noticed and listened to both nationally and internationally,” said Nina Langeland, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and chairman of the fund that awards the prize.

Many of the researchers at CIH are today part of the Centre of Excellence for Intervention Science in Maternal and Child Health, which opens in October 2013.

Søren Falch Senior Prize consists of a diploma and a money award of NOK 250,000. The fund that awards the prize places particular emphasis on works that is of great scientific or social significance.

Multidisciplinary doctorates

In addition to his work with CIH, the jury also emphasised Professor Nilsen’s work as Pro-Rector at the University of Bergen (UiB) from 2001-2005. According to the jury, he contributed in this period to the harmonisation of doctoral education both at UiB, but also nationally and internationally.

“It is the work with doctoral degrees that I am most proud of. Doctorates were usually closely connected to each department, but I managed to change the way we think about PhD research as something institutional and interdisciplinary,” says Nilsen. “In this way we have moved from a focus on an individual’s research towards seeing talented scientists in research groups.”

Cross-disciplinary knowledge

Today, he is on a two-year research leave at Telemark University College where he, not surprisingly, works on the development of an interdisciplinary doctoral program in environment, ecology and climate.

“It is when we work together, across faculties, that we achieve the best knowledge, and Centre for International Health is proof of this. The centre has dentists, nurses, doctors and social scientists working together to achieve the same goal,” says Professor Nilsen.

(Translation: Tord Rø.)