KI researchers win Wallenberg Scholarship
The Wallenberg Scholars programme supports and stimulates some of the most successful researchers at Swedish universities. Two researchers at Karolinska Institutet have now been awarded SEK 15 million each to be divided over a period of five years.
Per-Olof Berggren, professor of experimental endocrinology at the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, researches into one of the most common and widespread diseases: diabetes. His work is devoted to identifying the signal pathways at a molecular level that regulate insulin release from our pancreatic beta cells under normal conditions in order to understand why they become dysfunctional at the onset of diabetes. One of his discoveries is that the Islets of Langerhans, the part of the pancreas where the cells are located, is different in mice and humans in terms of both structure and function. Professor Berggren's research group has also established a sophisticated method of studying in detail the function of insulin-secreting human and mouse beta cells and their long-term survival in the living organism. This is necessary for finding new, more specific and effective treatment options for diabetes and its complications.
"I'm delighted to receive this honour and the financial support that comes with it," says Professor Berggren. "It means that my group and I can concentrate on more complex, risky and time consuming research projects."
Carlos Ibáñez, professor of neuroscience, especially molecular neurobiology, at the Department of Neuroscience, is seeking a deeper understanding of how neuronal growth factors affect the survival and development of nerve cells. One particularly interesting field is the role that neuronal growth factors play in cortical inhibition, the hope being that it will explain a number of cognitive disorders, such as epilepsy, schizophrenia and autism. It is also hoped that understanding the underlying biochemical mechanisms determining the function of neuronal growth factors will enable the production of genetically artificial growth factors for treating diseases of the nervous system.
"This scholarship will enable us to continue working with the highest possible aims and to let our hair down and really test out new research avenues," says Professor Ibáñez.