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The Tobias Foundation

Endowment professorship in stem cell research

On 1 June 2001, Jonas Frisén was made the Tobias Professor of stem cell research at Karolinska Institutet, a position made possible through a generous donation by the Tobias Foundation.

About the research field

In many organs of the body, new cells are continually being formed from stem cells, which are immature cells with the potential to build new, mature cells. Since many diseases are characterised by cell depletion, scientists are very keen to develop new strategies for stimulating this process. In order to do this in a systematic way, they first need to understand how stem cells work and how cell formation is regulated. Professor Frisén’s research group is studying stem cells in adult organs.

The group will be studying several organs, particularly the brain, where stem cells give rise to new nerve cells. There is an urban myth that says that all the cells in our body are exchanged every seven years, but the truth is that very little is known about how often different cells are replaced. To investigate the matter, the group has developed a method of studying the process in humans based on the C14 dating of cells in order to chart cellular turnover.