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Symposium on Metabolism - the Foundation of Life


CellThe Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation is celebrating its 100-year anniversary with a series of symposia in various university cities around Sweden. The one in Gothenburg will focus on metabolism and will be held 28 September in Conference Centre Wallenberg. Anybody with an interest in the topic is invited to attend.

At the symposium, young promising researchers from the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology will be paired with internationally renowned experts in the respective fields. The young researcher will present his or her research and introduce the international guest.

‘When we were offered the opportunity to host a symposium in Gothenburg, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences had already selected the topic. Gothenburg has a long tradition of strong research in the area of metabolism, and the symposium request is a recognition of that,’ says Sven Enerback, professor of medical genetics and one of the scientists in the programme committee.

In addition to Enerbäck, the programme committee consists of Professor Maria Falkenberg from the University of Gothenburg and Professor Jens Nielsen from Chalmers University of Technology. Each committee member has chosen two topics, invited appropriate top scientists and teamed them up with promising young researchers from Gothenburg.

‘In order to understand the importance of metabolism, let me put it like this: Where there is a metabolism, there is life. Where there is no metabolism, there is no life,’ says Enerbäck.

He explains that the scientists in the field are interested in much more than just the diseases typically associated with metabolism. In fact, the study of metabolism may concern anything from diabetes and how to programme yeast to produce medicines to intestinal microbiota and cell mitochondria.

‘We know that interference with this process leads to many different types of diseases, like cardiovascular illness, obesity and diabetes, but also cancer. Tumours modify their metabolism to benefit their own growth. This knowledge may help us find ways to block the metabolism of cancer cells and eventually be able to offer treatments and medicines. Even dementias may partly be due to a faulty metabolism. Metabolism is a vital function for all cells. If they don’t get the energy they need, they die,’ says Enerbäck.

Anders Rosengren is a researcher at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology. He will present his research and introduce Professor Christina Smolke from Stanford University.

‘I’m going to talk about our latest findings from connecting bioinformatics with studies on pancreatic beta cells to explore the underlying disease mechanisms in type 2 diabetes. I will also describe examples of how beta cell research can be transferred to the treatment of patients.

Doctor Valentina Tremaroli is one of the young scientists of the University of Gothenburg who will present her research as an introduction of Director Ruth Ley from the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen. Valentina Tremaroli will talk about the human microbiota and how it influences human physiology and in particular metabolism.

‘After weight loss, we have seen alterations to the gut microbiota, indicating that specific modulation might be helpful for the treatment or prevention of metabolic diseases. I will talk about how the gut microbiota can contribute to metabolic regulation’, says Valentina Tremaroli.

Enerbäck points out that the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation provides invaluable support to Swedish research and has been immensely important.

‘The Foundation’s 100-year anniversary is a big deal. Over the years, it has granted huge amounts of money to research projects that in various ways have been “beneficial to Sweden”. Considering the size of the country, having a foundation that provides such strong support to research is totally unique.’

The symposium will be held in English. Although it is open to the public, it is not a popular science event.

Participate in the symposia on September 28

Sir Doug Turnbull, Ruth Ley, Bruce M. Spiegelman, Christina Smolke, Sekar Kathiresan, Dame Frances AshcroftInternational scientists.

From the top left: Sir Doug Turnbull, Professor, Mitochondrial Research Group, Newcastle University, Ruth Ley, director, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Bruce M. Spiegelman, professor, Spiegelman Lab, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard University, Christina Smolke, professor, Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University, Sekar Kathiresan, doctor, Center for Genomic Medicine Massachusetts General Hospital, Dame Frances Ashcroft, professor, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford

The symposia Metabolism - The Foundation of Life will be held on September 28, 09:00-17:30, at Konferenscentrum Wallenberg, Medicinaregatan 20A, Göteborg.

Pre-registration is required as lunch and refreshments will be served.

About the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation

The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation supports long-term, free basic research beneficial to Sweden, mainly in medicine, technology and the natural sciences. This is achieved through long-term grants to free basic research of the highest international standard.
In the 100 years since its establishment, the Foundation has granted SEK 24 billion to excellent Swedish research and education. Recent annual grants of SEK 1.7 billion make the Foundation one of the largest private funders of scientific research in Europe. 

Top photo: Magnus Bergström
Doug Turnbull: foto Dru Dodds
Ruth Ley: foto
Bruce Spiegelman: foto Samuel Ogden, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Christina Smolke: foto Rod Searcey/Stanford Engineering
Sekar Kathiresan: foto Jennifer T Chen
Frances Ashcroft: foto Robert Taylor