Laila Stærk, Fulbright 2016/2017

Research fellow at Framingham Heart Study

When I started as a PhD student, my supervisors and I quickly agreed that I should plan a 12 month research stay in the U.S. for my second year. We established contact with Framingham Heart Study, Boston University which has collected data and published significant articles within the development of cardiovascular disease since 1948. This was a unique opportunity for me to work with their data while being guided by their highly skilled and experienced physicians, epidemiologists and biostatics.

The Framingham Heart Study and Boston University attract talented researchers from across the United States, as well as internationally recognized researchers. It was a unique experience for me to collaborate with researchers who all worked at the Framingham Heart Study and BU to do significant research on cardiovascular disease.

We had frequent meetings in my research group, where we discussed the research projects’ methods and results. In addition to working with the research projects, I helped to collect data and interviewed the participants in the Framingham Heart Study. I appreciated having these interviews as it allowed me to talk to Americans from different states in the U.S. I also attended several courses and heart medicine congresses while I was in the United States.

Boston University

Number of students



Ranked number 42 among Best Colleges and ranked number 46 among Best Global Universities in U.S. News & World Report 2019.


Boston University is one of the largest independent, nonprofit universities in the country.

BU is also the first university to open all divisions to female students in 1872.

Conducting research in the U.S., I learned a lot about myself by entering new collaborations, and I will be able utilize this during my career. In short, it was a great professional and personal enrichment to get outside Denmark's borders.

Experiencing the U.S.

It has been instructive and rewarding for me to research in the U.S., and it has helped realize the fact that there are various ways you can work to reach your goals.

Boston is a university town with a unique research context, and living in the U.S. inspired a desire to travel around the country; my boyfriend and I spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve in New York, went on a weekend trip to major nearby cities and went on a road trip in California. I can highly recommend getting around the United States during a long-term stay, as you meet many people and get a sense of how big the country actually is. While I was in the U.S., there was also a presidential election, and traveling around the U.S., talking to Americans from different states, helped to provide a nuanced understanding of the U.S. anno 2016/2017.

My stay in the US got an extra dimension by being a Fulbright student, and in the light of conflicts around the world, it seems acutely important to have cultural exchange and openness across borders.

Fulbright - More than a grant

A research stay in the United States is associated with a number of challenges. Receiving an award from Fulbright Denmark has been a great financial help, which has resulted in time in the U.S. being a great success both professionally and personally. More importantly, being a ‘Fulbrighter’ opened a number of doors in the United States; my American professors were proud to receive a Fulbright student at the Framingham Heart Study and BU, and I also participated in several Fulbright events – It was always exciting to meet other Fulbright students and discuss both their time in the U.S. and their home country.