Hagströmer Library receives donation

A valuable addition has been made to Karolinska Institutet’s Hagströmer Library in the form of a donation by biomedical company Astra Zeneca of the vast Berzelius collection, a library of around 3,000 works by Swedish luminaries in the fields of pharmacy, chemistry and medicine, such as Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Torbern Bergman and Jacob Berzelius. Many of the volumes are rare editions from the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Carl Wilhelm Scheele’s own copy of the Swedish pharmacopeia from 1775.

“The Berzelius collection represents a scientific tradition and has thus fulfilled a vital role at AstraZeneca,” says Anders Ekblom, director of research at the company. “We’re now delighted that the Hagströmer Library at Karolinska Institutet will take over this unique collection of scientific history. Jacob Berzelius was a professor at Karolinska Institutet for 25 years in the early 1800s, and the fact that Karolinska Institutet is celebrating its second centenary lends an extra dimension to it all.”

Commenting on the donation, Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson, president of Karolinska Institutet, says:

“The Berzelius Collection is a cultural treasure and one of the country’s primary sources of advances and discoveries in the natural sciences over the past 300 years. AstraZeneca’s donation gives Karolinska Institutet a collection of volumes relating to the history of chemistry, health spas and medicine that is of great international value and that creates historical ties to the research being conducted here and now.”

About the Hagströmer Library

The Hagströmer Library, named after Karolinska Institutet’s first rector Anders Johan Hagströmer, was established in 1997 to house the valuable collections held by the Karolinska Institutet and Swedish Society of Medicine libraries. The library possesses one of the world’s finest collections of medical history works, which it strives to make accessible to both scholars and the general public. A virtual museum of medical history volumes, the Bibliotheca Systema Naturae, which presents selected works from the collection, has been opened on the Hagströmer Library’s website.

New research collaborations on pain and Alzheimer’s

AstraZeneca and Karolinska Institutet have signed two new agreements on research into chronic pain and Alzheimer’s disease, according to which AstraZeneca will be financing five new research posts at Karolinska Institutet over a period of three years.

“We’re delighted to have reached this agreement, which reinforces our research resources, in the very same year that we celebrate our second centenary,” says KI president Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson. “It means that we can take our innovative research to a new level with AstraZeneca, which possesses unique knowledge of the field.”

New pain research begins

Chronic pain, particularly that caused by arthrosis or osteoarthritis, is one of the most common and difficult to treat pain conditions, and new therapies are desperately needed. The new agreement means that AstraZeneca is to finance three new posts at Karolinska Institutet in addition to existing research posts. This will allow new pain research to commence and help to realise the plans to re-open the Centre for Pain Research.

These research posts are focused on so-called traditional research, an important and fast-growing strategy for finding new, efficacious therapies. The strategy involves transferring the results generated by basic, non-clinical research to their effects on humans, upon which the new knowledge is then fed back to the basic research laboratory.

Strengthening Alzheimer’s research

Two more research posts are intended for developing research methods concerning Alzheimer’s disease using new PET scanners on small animals. For the past four years, researchers at Karolinska Institutet and AstraZeneca have been involved in a large-scale project on PET studies of Alzheimer’s disease in humans. By expanding the use of the PET technique, the scientists will be better able to produce improved, faster results.

MicroPET is an imaging technique for small animals that makes it possible to trace drugs in the body, in this case the brain. Since the method is non-invasive, fewer animals are needed than for more traditional analytical methods.

“Even though Alzheimer’s and the chronic pain diseases cause a great deal of suffering, there are no effective treatments,” says Christer Köhler, director of neuroscience and pain research at AstraZeneca. “Our strategy is to collaborate with the institutes that conduct world-leading research, and Karolinska Institutet is a very successful university in the areas in which we have chosen to collaborate. Together, we can break new ground on these diseases.”