A major donation to research in blood diseases

Published 2009-04-08 00:00. Updated 2013-11-26 10:24

[PRESS RELEASE 8 APRIL 2009] Physician and KI alumnus Åke Olsson, previously active at hospitals in Södertälje and Nacka, has bequeathed SEK 50 million to found Dr Åke Olsson's Foundation for Haematological Research. Beneficiary of the foundation is Karolinska Institutet and the first recipients of the grants are researchers Marianne Farnebo, Alf Grandien, Weng-Onn Lui and Lisa Westerberg.

"It is a great honour and a pleasure to receive such a large donation from a physician colleague. The money has been awarded to the foremost research projects in the field of blood diseases at Karolinska Institutet. The researchers have been asked to describe their research projects, and after an evaluation procedure the best projects have been selected", says Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson, President of Karolinska Institutet.

Dr Åke Olsson's Foundation aims to stimulate the development of new expertise within haematology. It is for this reason that projects in a crucial but early stage of development will be supported, since these projects may have a hard time to obtain funding from other sources. The awardees' in 2009 are granted SEK 500,000 for one year, but larger awards may be granted in the future if larger projects are in their initial phases.

"Sweden and Karolinska Institutet have a long history of success in the medical field. It is for this reason that the foundation has an earnest desire to ensure that the research remains at the international forefront", says Lil Ryott, Chair of Dr Åke Olsson's Foundation. Other members of the foundation are lawyer Fred Wennerholm and Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson.

"Furthermore, haematology is a field that has been given priority in the Karolinska Institutet campaign "Breakthroughs for Life", which will culminate during the 200-year anniversary of the university in 2010. It is therefore particularly gratifying to be able to announce the donation from Dr Åke Olsson, and we hope that it will have an impact in the search for new treatments for patients suffering from blood diseases", says Lil Ryott.

Grantees' in 2009:

Marianne Farnebo

Marianne Farnebo
Marianne Farnebo.Photo: Private

Marianne Farnebo works at the Department of Oncology-Pathology on the recently discovered gene Wrap53, proven to play a crucial role in cancer. Farnebo is investigating the function of Wrap53, and is developing new drugs to inhibit the expression of Wrap53 in tumours.

Alf Grandien

Alf Grandien
Alf Grandien.Photo: Håkan Flank

Alf Grandien's research at the Department of Medicine at Huddinge is focused on developing methods for the production of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) from samples of bone marrow from patients with haematological diseases. The overall aim is to use iPS as a treatment of various currently incurable haematological diseases.

Weng-Onn Lui

Weng-Onn Lui
Weng-Onn Lui.Photo: Fahad Al-Zadjali

Weng-Onn Lui works at the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery. His research aims at identify specific microRNAs involved in lymphomas, characterize their functions and understand their roles in tumor development and progression. The ultimate goal is to identify specific microRNAs that can be used in clinical medicine for cancer diagnosis and prognosis or treatment of human cancer.

Lisa Westerberg

Lisa Westerberg
Lisa Westerberg.Photo: Emilie Domange Jordö

Lisa Westerberg works at the Department of Medicine in Solna. During primary immune deficiency disorders many cases lead to a high risk of developing cancer in immune cells. Westerberg focuses on clarifying underlying cause by studying Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome and congenital neutropenia.

For more information about research at Karolinska Institutet, contact:

For more information about the "Breakthroughs for Life" campaign, contact: