Nine young researchers awarded Wallenberg Academy Fellows at Karolinska Institutet
The Knut and Alice Wallenbergs Foundation has selected nine researchers from Karolinska Institutet as Wallenberg Academy Fellows 2014. They are to receive funding between SEK 5 and 9 million over five years. Four of the researchers are international recruitments to Karolinska Institutet.
People with a history of inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, have a higher risk of developing colon cancer. As a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, Jenny Mjösberg will study the role played by a newly discovered family of cells that belong to the immune system, innate lymphoid cells, in the development of tumors. Jenny Mjösberg will share her time between the Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge and Linköping University.
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Jenny Mjösberg group
Associate Professor Björn Högberg from the Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, can control the folding of DNA molecules by programming the genetic code: this is called DNA origami. As a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, he will use DNA origami as a tool for investigating the interactions between cells and mapping the differences in gene expression between healthy cells and cancer cells.
People, who can keep their stem cells young, can keep their bodies young. As a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, Pekka Katajisto seeks methods that will help stem cells to retain their vitality. In doing so, he will try to delay aging. Dr Pekka Katajisto is at the Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, and Academy Research Fellow, Academy of Finland. He will continue his research at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.
When genetic defects sideline cells of the immune system, serious and often deadly diseases may result. Dr Yenan Bryceson at the Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Bergen, will use the latest methods in gene technology to map the mutations that disrupt the functioning of two white blood cells: cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells. The knowledge generated by the project will be used by Yenan Bryceson to develop sensitive diagnostic methods for diseases that are linked to these lymphocytes. The hope is that this also results in better treatment methods.
Each year, around 100 people in Sweden suffer serious meningitis caused by a meningococcus bacterium that is normally found in the nose and throat. For some reason, the bacteria penetrate the mucous membrane and enter the brain. As a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, Edmund Loh will conduct research into why these bacteria suddenly become dangerous. Edmund Loh is currently Swedish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at The Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford. As a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, Edmund Loh will be based at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.
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Researchers know much about how personal experiences of distressing events give rise to fear, but we also learn fear from others and we learn to be afraid of others. What governs these types of social learning? Andreas Olsson, Associate Professor at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, will look for the answer to these questions during his time as a Wallenberg Academy Fellow.
Sometimes the genetic mutations that cause diseases are located outside the actual genes, in parts of the DNA that regulate the gene’s activity. Dr Robert Månsson at the Center for Hematology and Regenerative Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, will pair genes that influence blood cells with the correct control region in the DNA. The aim is that this will lead to a better understanding of blood cancer.
Many common diseases are linked to an overactive immune system and inflammation in the body. Dr Peder Olofsson, from the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Manhasset, USA, will investigate a new and revolutionary discovery: that nerve cells regulate the immune system. The aim is to reduce inflammation by modulating the signals that are sent between the nerves and the immune system. As a Wallenberg Academy Fellow Peder Olofsson will setup this research at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm.
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In inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, chronic inflammation occurs in the gut when uncontrolled immune responses are misdirected against self, microbiota-derived and/or environmental antigens. Eduardo Villablanca will find out why: what happens when the dialog between the gut flora, intestinal cells and cells from the immune system is lost. Eduardo Villablanca is Instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Assistant Immunologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and researcher at Broad Institute, Cambridge, USA. He will move his activities to Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm.
About Wallenberg Academy Fellows
Sweden’s largest private investment in young researchers, Wallenberg Academy Fellows, has announcement 29 new Wallenberg Academy Fellows 2014. The programme is financed by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and supports some of Sweden’s, and the world’s, most promising researchers in medicine, natural sciences, engineering sciences, humanities and social science.
All the Wallenberg Academy Fellows participate in a mentoring programme that aims to strengthen their academic leadership and to provide them with the knowledge and experience necessary to improve the commercialisation of their research results. The programme’s international element also contributes to the increased internationalisation of the Swedish research environment, thus fulfilling several of the criteria that are in demand to increase the competitiveness of Swedish research.