Networks for life science - the focus area for WCMTM yearly open event
The annual open event of WCMTM, held in mid-March, was dedicated to the latest research on cancer, Alzheimer's disease, mental illness, diabetes and other fields that are part of the center's research sphere. Several invited guest speakers also gave insight into their research, and the new director of the center introduced himself.
'I am happy and honored to lead the center onwards, and I am especially looking forward to many excellent collaborations,' said Gustav Smith when presenting himself and his work. Gustav is a cardiologist, and his research focuses on molecular epidemiology. He has previously worked at Lund University where he was, among other things, a fellow at their corresponding center WCMM, and at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT in Boston.
Margit Mahlapuu, who has been co-director of WCMTM since 2020, particularly highlighted the dialogue with the center's members for the coming years.
'With new funding until 2028, we now have the opportunity to further develop the value that WCMTM offers, and further contribute to research that benefits the society. And we would like to shape the coming years in dialogue with the researchers,' said Margit, who is also a professor of molecular genetics at the Faculty of Science.
Below are examples from the talks of the Open event. You can find the program as a whole at the event web page.
Collaboration is key
Göran K Hansson, the event's key note speaker and the representative of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation in WCMTM steering group, gave a speech on how collaboration can become a factor for successful research. Göran has a PhD at the University of Gothenburg, has been Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, vice-chairman at the Nobel Foundation board, and is a professor of experimental cardiovascular research at the Karolinska Institutet (KI).
'Molecular research is successful when we contribute to making the life of patients better. As researchers we need to interconnect the knowledge from the lab with practical healthcare, and vice versa. Collaboration and understanding is the key,' Göran said, and gave examples from his own research.
Göran also pointed out other key factors, such as collaboration across several medical fields, share common goals and visions, but also sharing research infrastructure and meeting colleagues in the building.
'Translating molecules to medical benefit demands that you also know what do not know, in other words understanding the gaps in your own competence profile. On one hand you need to be driven and specialized but on the other hand you need to be humble and open for other's knowledge and contributions,' Göran said.
Insight into the DDLS initiative
The day also offered presentations from the National Program for Data-Driven Life Science (DDLS), an initiative between the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and SciLifeLab. Two newly recruited fellows guided us through their research: Abhishek Niroula, who studies blood cancer in relation to aging at the department of biomedicine, and Clemens Wittenbecher from Chalmers who studies nutrition and risks for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Marija Cvijovic,professor in computational biology at Mathematical sciences, University of Gothenburg, talked about the DDLS Research School where she recently was appointed as director. The research school has the goal to recruit and train the next-generation of data-driven life scientists. The first of a total of 185 PhD students will be admitted in 2024.
‘We want to move towards a flexible education with a broad curriculum and with a form that suits different types of researchers. Innovation will be a big focus area, as well as and strengthening the ties between academia and industry,' Marija said and looked at Gothenburg as an example where universities, hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry are just a tram ride away.
Projects within WCMTM continue to develop
Michael Schöll, who was recruited to WCMTM in 2017 and is now a senior lecturer in molecular medicine with a focus on neuroimaging, talked about the continuation of his research on Alzheimer's disease, as an example of clinical research projects. Within the framework of an upcoming project, he and his team aim to recruit at least 3 000 people aged 50-80 within the Västra Götaland region, in close collaboration with primary care.
‘For me, the great strength of WCMTM is the merging of the clinical and the experimental,’ which has given me the opportunity to collaborate with many researchers and clinicians that I would not otherwise have met,’ Michael said during the panel discussion that summed up the event.
Wallenberg Centre of Molecular and Translational Medicine is a research Center at the University of Gothenburg. The Center is built in cooperation with Region Västra Götaland and AstraZeneca. The close interaction between the partners have been of importance to ensure that researchers from basic research diciplines meet with clinically oriented researchers for a truly translational focus. We collaborate close with the Wallenberg centers the universities in Lund, Linköping, and Umeå, as well as with SciLifeLab and the national Data Driven Life Science Program (DDLS).