Line Khalidan Vibholm 2017/2018

Excellence and vast resources

As part of my PhD study I researched a cure for HIV at Aarhus University Hospital. During my studies I got a clear sense that the U.S. was the right place to go if I wanted to learn new things, make new contacts and develop my research competencies within the field – I needed to go to The Rockefeller University.

It made a big difference academically to come to New York for two reasons.

First of all, I had the experience of being surrounded by the best brains in the field, as the research environment was incredibly international; the other researchers, postdocs and students came from all over the world, and each had their own expertise and experience. You often hear that people have more “sharp elbows” in larger international laboratories, but I didn’t see that at all. I was received with great openness and people were willing to help out and pass on their knowledge throughout my stay.

The second crucial element was the available resources in the form of equipment, machines and reagents that were far above the standard and quantity that I had available in Denmark. Therefore, I learned several new methods and could make experiments that otherwise would not have been possible.

The Rockefeller University

Number of students

195 PhDs and postdocs


Rockefeller is the oldest biomedical research institute in the United States.

It is a world-renowned center for research and graduate education in the biomedical sciences, chemistry, bioinformatics and physics.

36 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with Rockefeller University.

In general, my stay in New York improved the standard of my PhD project of researching a cure for HIV, and provided me with a lot of experience and knowledge that I was able to share with my Danish colleagues upon return.

Grant applications and financing

The cost of living in the big cities in the U.S. is significantly higher than in Denmark, so I applied for many grants and foundations that could help cover travel expenses and rent. I participated in the info meeting on grant applications held by the Fulbright Center, where I got some inspiration and guidance that I was able to use in all the grant applications I wrote. In addition to the Fulbright award, I also received smaller grants. However, the award I received from Fulbright was the clear prerequisite for the stay to be realized without any problems.

Living as a family in New York City

I am married and have two children, they were six when we went to the U.S. – I had great support from my family, which was a prerequisite for making the trip a reality. My husband saved half a year’s maternity leave, and in addition took half a year’s unpaid leave to be able to take the whole period. When the school year was over, our children had lots of friends and were able to read, write and speak proper English. My husband took care of the children every day after school so that I could follow the “American standards” in relation to working hours, which was a lot more than the 37 hours per week that we’re used to in Denmark.

New York proved to be extremely family friendly and on weekends we explored everything the city had to offer. Overall, all four of us had a fantastic experience in the U.S. and I would absolutely recommend to go as a family.

The experience you get as a Fulbrighter in the U.S. is much greater than just the financial support offered; it is just as much a great help to create social networks and opportunities for unique local experiences.

Thanks to Fulbright

In the United States, everyone knows what it means to be a “Fulbrighter” – it is met with respect and recognition. In the bigger cities, there are a lot of events for Fulbright students to participate in to meet other scholars from all over the world. Among other things, I attended a Fulbright alumni meeting in the UN building, where I met students within widely different subjects from all over the world. In addition, there were weekly offers of meetings with former senators, courses, workshops and cultural events with everything from Yoga in Central Park to concerts in Carnegie Hall.