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Honorary doctor at the University of Gothenburg wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry


This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar for ”having mapped, at a molecular level, how cells repair damaged DNA and safeguard the genetic information”. Tomas Lindahl worked for several years at the University of Gothenburg and was appointed honorary doctor in 1991.

- I am very proud to have had the opportunity to work with him, says Per Sunnerhagen, professor at the University of Gothenburg.

This year’s prize concerns the human cell’s use of its toolbox to repair DNA. The work of the three prizewinners has provided fundamental knowledge about how a living cell functions. Their research has made it possible to develop new cancer treatments.

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s Tomas Lindahl worked as a professor in medical and physiological chemistry at the University of Gothenburg. Per Sunnerhagen, researcher and molecular biologist, was at that time a young student and worked in Tomas Lindahl’s laboratory.

- I find it really great that he has won the Nobel Prize in chemistry. I know that he has made a huge impression in the research world, and that he continued a successful career in London. He has made a huge contribution within the field of DNA repair, so therefore I am not surprised that he has won the chemistry prize, says Per Sunnerhagen.

Tomas Lindahl’s research concerns how we, through the constant repairing of our DNA, can prevent large changes in our genetic material, which can cause diseases like cancer. Per Sunnerhagen makes connections to the Swedish researcher Svante Pääbo’s research on ancient DNA, from example the Neanderthals. Tomas Lindahl is an authority on DNA stability, and made estimations on how old DNA it was possible to find.

The three Nobel Prize winners have all discovered three different ways for the cell to repair the DNA chain.

- This will have a huge impact on the understanding how all species– animals, bacteria, plants–keep themselves stable. DNA repair is no longer my field of research, but I am very proud to have worked with Tomas Lindahl, says Per Sunnerhagen.

Photo: The Francis Crick Institute