Nikolai Baastrup Nordsborg

Nikolai Baastrup Nordsborg

Head of Department


My educational activities has always followed a path of continued skill development and striving for excellence. In addition to my research skills, I focus on being a resourceful person who are able to motivate and work for others.

1995 Elite coach education, 1 year, ‘Trænerskolen Aalborg’, Swimming.

2001 M.Sc. Human physiology.

2002 Costal Life-Guard and PADI Rescue diver.

2005 Ph.D. Exercise and Sport Sciences.

2008 Course in pedagogy of teaching at Universities.

2011 Research Management Course, Copenhagen Business School, SIMI Executive.

2015 Course in ‘Work Environment’, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

2017 University Management Course, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


Positions & Departmental tasks

I have been fortunate and skilled in achieving positions, allowing me to follow my passion for research, education and later in my career for research and departmental leadership.

2008 Assistant Professor, Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

2009- Associate Professor, Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

2014-20 Department representative in Faculty of SCIENCE comity on ‘Work environment’ (FAMU).

2014-20 Head of ‘Work environment’ group for two NEXS Sections.

2016-17 Research group leader in ‘Performance & Anti-Doping’.

2017-20 Head of Section, ‘Integrative Physiology’ (~45 employees including 11 senior researchers).

2020 - Head of Department, 'Nutrition, Exercise and Sports' (>200 employees, ~700 students, turn around ~20 mio EUR)

2020 - Professor in Human Exercise Physiology

International scientific collaboration

I have from early in my career been focused and successful in establishing international collaborations and networks. My achievements in collaboration with anti-doping authorities and funding-bodies are of high importance.

In 2000 I spend 9 months at 'Abteilung für Angewandte Physiologie, Universität Ulm, Germany' working on the myopathy hyperkalemic periodic paralyses. I later vistited Prof. Dr. Michael McKenna’s laboratory, Melbourne, Australia during my ph.d. studies working on Na,K ATPase activity assays. In 2017 I initiated a collaboration with University of Granada, Spain and the altitude training facility in Sierra Nevada. In collaboration with the World Anti-Doping Agency we have completed and altitude trial in Sierra Nevada with the aim to identify novel markers of EPO misuse. My anti-doping reserach has also established close contacts with US based reasearchers and anti-doping entities (ie. Partnership for Clean Competition) as well as strong collaborations with european anti-doping laboratories in Oslo, Köln and Lausanne.


Trusted positions and tasks

My sincere engagement, open and honest approach, high level of knowledge and work ethic has resulted in numerous trusted positions and tasks with public and private, national and international organizations.

1998-2000 National age-group coach, Danish Swimming Federation (Youth Olympics head coach).

1997-2009 Educational instructor, Danish Swimming Federation (basic to elite swimming).

1998-2009 Educational instructor, Danish National Sport Federation (physiology).

2005 – Elite coach education (Idrættens Træner Akademi, DIF). Highest National Level.

2006-9 Educational board and National Olympic Academy member, Danish National Sport Federation.

2006- 11 Member of the educational board in the Danish Swimming Federation.

2007-9 Member of Team Denmark coach advisory board (Appointed by the National Sport Federation).

2007-11 Educationally Responsible, Danish Swimming Federation.

2011- Member of assessment committee for positions of assistant and associate professors at NEXS.

2011- International Ph.D. opponent (1-2 times yearly).

2012 Reviewer for National Institute of Health (NIH); Musculoskeletal, Oral and Skin Sciences.

2014- Chairman of ~1 ph.d. evaluation committee at NEXS per year.

2018 - Member of the Partnership for Clean Competition ‘Hematology & Performance’ working group.

2018 -20 Coordinating developer of Danish National Sport Federation (DIF) e-learning coach education.


Scientific outreach and education activities

Please also see the section ‘Public outreach’ below.

2010-14 Member of the board in “The Research Education Program in Sport Sciences” (REPS).

2014-5 Scientific organization member of the European College of Sport Science conference, Malmö.

2010- Bi-annual organizer of international ph.d. courses related to human performance and anti-doping.

2019  Scientific organizer of the international symposium “Anti-doping – a scientific approach” sponsored by the Novo Nordic Foundation.


Research leadership

I believe that efficient leadership is composed of transparent and competent priority setting based on inputs from relevant stakeholders.

I have been responsible for management of ph.d. students and project allocated laboratory staff since 2013 including daily work-flows and yearly follow-up development discussions (MUS). In 2016, I headed a research group within the Section ‘Integrated Physiolgy’ including research management and people management. Since 2017, I have headed the ‘Integrative Physiology’ section and the three active research groups comprising a total of 12 permanent senior scientists (3 full professors, 9 associate professors) and 3,5 technical staff. A total of ~45 employees are associated with the Section which also includes a research center. I strive to be competent, transparent and inclusive in all strategic as well as every day decisions. Since 2020, I have been head of department at NEXS. Furthermore, I strive to develop activities in coherence with other employee’s priorities.

I have coordinated more than 40 different research projects since 2011. The projects have included international collaboration resulting in high impact publications (Nature Communication and PNAS, see publications) and have required coordination of students, laboratory staff, national and international scientific collaborators as well as engagement of clinicians in various disciplines ranging from anesthesiology over metabolism & endocrinology as well as reproductive endocrinology. The resulting publications have ranged from basic research in integrative exercise physiology to applied research of for example training modalities and anti-doping related research. I have collaborated with more than 220 different authors on peer-reviewed publications. Collaborating organizations in research projects have included a National Defence ph.d., Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET), Danish and NATO Special Forces, National Board of Health, Municipality of Copenhagen, the two major Danish sports organizations (DIF, DGI), the national elite sport organization (Team Danmark) and the national anti-doping organization (Anti-Doping Danmark). I have been appointed member of the Partnership for Clean Competition (PCC) workgroup on hematology. PCC is the world’s largest foundation supporting anti-doping research.

Most recently, I have engaged as PI in the project 'generation healthy kids' which has obtained a generous donation from the Novo Nordic Foundation'. The project is an exciting collaboration across entities including Univeristy of Southern Denmark and Center for Clinical Research and Prevention.

Innovation and entrepreneurship

I have always possessed a strong drive for development of new areas related to my research activities.

Recently, I have initiated explorative collaborations with innovators and entrepreneurs in sports technology. These endeavors are extremely exciting and of high relevance to both society and our students. Before my full commitment to University, I founded “SinusLiv” in 2000. The primary aim was to provide research based change management to the healthcare sector with a special focus on mental illness. SinusLiv collaborated closely with ‘Sundhedsstyrelsen’ and developed a highly successful program. SinusLiv was sold in 2015 to a Danish sport federation and the education continuous to be a success today with a total number of participants >600 (staff from hospitals, regions and municipalities). I have developed teaching strategies for the national sport federations for more than 20 years including education of coaches ranging from sub-elite to national team head coaches (>200 participants). The extensive teaching experience has also included development of new teaching strategies including online courses, blended leaning and flipped classroom strategies. Moreover, I have developed modern teaching materials in the form of DVDs (in the early days) and later a full online platform for the theory of swimming (see non-scientific publications). I have supervised ‘projects in practice’ in collaboration with private companies.

Public outreach

I believe that we have an obligation to actively interact with society both in terms of general dissemination and specific scientific communication.

I have often contributed to national media and various discipline specific magazine etc. Of special note is the initiative ‘SportsLab’ on Danish TV2 (National Broadcasting Company) initiated in 2011 in close collaboration with TV2. The series have been running since and has covered both original research findings as well as illustration of sports research in various ways. I have appeared in more than 15 episodes as the primary expert. Moreover, one of the productions (about runner Anna-Emilie Møller) was named the ‘Digital Media Production of the Year’ in 2017 with me as the sports science expert. Another contribution was to the development of ‘Human Experiments’ on DR3 (Ref: Nordisk Film) where science was disseminated in an untraditional format aimed at a younger (12-20 years) audience. I helped develop the concept and appeared in 6 episodes as the primary expert. In addition, I have contributed more than 30 times to national media coverage of sports events (Tour de France, Running events, Sports Technology etc.) in live interviews with TV2 and DR radio (P1 and P3).

Teaching and supervison

I have passion for engaging teaching and inspiring supervision. I also strive to develop new ways of working with students whether it is related to innovation projects, classical research, electronic media or class-engagement.

The University based position as associate professor has required ~750 (and up to 1100+) hours of annual teaching obligations including bachelor and master student supervision. I have supervised more than 80 bachelor students and more than 50 master thesis students. My ph.d. supervisions include: Thomas Bonne (completed 2015); Jacob Bejder (completed 2019); Anders Kilen (completed 2019); Andreas Andersen (Current to 2020); Sara Solheim (Industrial phd, completed 2020). Post Doc: Jacob Bejder (current, 3 yrs), Thomas Bonne (current, 2 yrs), Jeronimo Vela (current, 2 yrs).

I am a frequent contributor to courses in human exercise physiology across Departmental Sections. My primary responsibilities and development activities are listed below. I have been a primary driving force in development of the current bachelor course in statistics, the new course in water-activities and the new candidate course in “research in exercise physiology” as well as the new course in “athletics, physical training and outdoor activities”. As early as ~2000, I was driving the development of video feed-back in swimming via an online platform. I have also been the primary responsible for establishing a successful coupling between practical courses in swimming, athletics, physical training and the theoretical course human exercise physiology. The extensive teaching experience has also included development of new teaching strategies including online courses, blended leaning and flipped classroom strategies.

2019: Development of the new bachelor course ‘Athletics & physical training’ (7.5 ECTS; ~130 students / year)

2018: Development of the new bachelor course ‘Water activities and swimming’ (7.5 ECTS; ~130 students / year)

2017: Primary organizer of the ph.d. course ‘Doping & human exercise performance’ (5 ECTS; ~15 participants)

2015: Development of the new master course ‘Adaptations to strength training’ (7.5 ECTS; ~15 students / year)

2015-8: Contributor to ‘Rehabilitation’ bachelor course (basic physiology) (~15 students / year)

2015: Primary organizer of the ph.d. course ‘Limitations to human performance’ (5 ECTS; ~15 participants)

2014: Primary organizer of ph.d. course in statistics (5 ECTS; ~15 participants)

2012: Development of the new master course ‘Human performance and fatigue’ (7.5 ECTS; ~20 students / year)

2012: Primary organizer of the ph.d. course ‘Human Performance’ (5 ECTS; ~15 participants)

2011: Development of the new bachelor course ‘Statistics and research design’ (7.5 ECTS; ~70 students / year)

2010: Primary organizer of REPS ph.d. course: Statistics in Exercise and Sport Sciences (5 ECTS; 25 participants)

2007-9: Teaching at the bachelor course ‘training physiology’ (7.5 ECTS; ~35 students / year)

2007: Teaching at the ‘AMBEHR’ ph.d. course

2006: Development & teaching of the external course ‘Elite training’ (~20 participants)

2006-9: Development of the course ‘Outdoor physiology’ (Master in outdoor; 7.5 ECTS; ~15 students / year)

2005-9: Primary teacher at the master course ‘Anaerobic training’ (7.5 ECTS; ~20 students / year)

2003: Founder of TRYGfonden funded web-based swimming video feedback system. Used for >1500 NEXS students.

2002-20: Co-responsible for the bachelor course ‘Exercise Physiology’ (7.5 ECTS; ~130 students / year)

1998-2019: Teaching at, and responsible for ‘Water-activities’ (3 x 2.5 ECTS; ~130 students / year)


Application activities

My application success rate is ~33%. Since 2011 I have obtained grants of >100 mio DKK.



Non-scientific publications

  • Testmanual: patientinterview og konditionstest; Nikolai Nordsborg, Michael Timmerman, Danmark. Sundhedsstyrelsen, SinusLiv. Sundhedsstyrelsen, 2006. ISBN 8776763730, 9788776763732.
  • DVD. Når børn lærer at svømme; Nikolai Nordsborg og Sanne Høck; Dansk Svømmeunion, 2006.
  • Forskning i bevægelse. Et nyt forskningsfelt i et 100-årigt perspektiv. Anne Lykke Poulsen, Else Trangbæk, Kurt Jørgensen, Nikolai Nordsborg (red.). 2009, 376 sider, Institut for Idræt / Museum Tusculanum. ISBN 978 87 635 2613 5.
  • Videoforedrag: Blodets betydning for menneskets præstationsevne: (Januar 2014).
  • E-ressource: Moderne Svømning (2018). Medlem af redaktionsgruppen og hovedforfatter til afsnittene om de fire stilarter.
  • E-læring: Træner 2 uddannelse. Danmarks Idrætsforbund (20 timers online forløb). 2020.
  • Bog: Hematopoiesis - with special reference to exercise. Jan Sommer Jeppesen; Jacob Bejder; Nikolai B. Nordsborg, 2020. ISBN 978 87 917 71 77 4.

Conflicts of interest

Occasionally giving popular scientific talks and evaluating individuals or entities at other universities or organisations. No conflicts of interest.

Knowledge of languages

Danish, English, German


M.Sc. PhD Human Physiology

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