The University of Gothenburg part of new major life science initiative

The Wallenberg Centre for Molecular and Translational Medicine (WCMTM) at the University of Gothenburg has been awarded an extension grant of SEK 161 million and an additional SEK 68 million for recruitment positions in data-driven life science by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

During 2014–2015, the Foundation invested SEK 850 million to establish four Wallenberg Centres for Molecular Medicine (WCMM) in Lund, Gothenburg, Linköping and Umeå. The goal was to support the life science field in Sweden by educating future researchers and heads of research and in this way guarantee a high standard of research. The funding will be exhausted in 2024, but the new extension grant totalling SEK 600 million will allow the centres to continue until 2028.

The funding is part of a national initiative in life science where the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation is investing SEK 3.7 billion over 12 years, of which SEK 3.1 billion is dedicated to data-driven life science.

“We are very proud of what the Wallenberg Centre for Molecular and Translational Medicine at the University of Gothenburg has achieved to this point. I see the fact that the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation so clearly makes us a part of this mobilisation within life science as high marks for the centre as such, but also for our strong research environments within life sciences in a broader perspective,” says Vice-Chancellor Eva Wiberg.

“It is a clear signal that we are working in the right direction. WCMTM at the University of Gothenburg has also been awarded four recruitment positions within precision medicine and diagnostics and within epidemiology and infection biology. This funding strongly improves our ability to create new knowledge within these highly topical and clinically relevant fields,” says Christina Jern, director of the WCMTM.

“Of course, we are very happy and grateful that this important initiative continues in Gothenburg. We look forward to the opportunity of long-term planning, now that we have built up a well-functioning infrastructure with outstanding recruitments to the faculty, says Sahlgrenska Academy’s (the medical faculty) dean, Agneta Holmäng.

A National Initiative

WCMTM was established in 2015 as a 10-year initiative at the University of Gothenburg. It is funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the University of Gothenburg, Region Västra Götaland, and AstraZeneca, and is a part of a national mobilisation that also includes Lund University, Umeå University, Linköping University, each of their health and medical care regions, and SciLifeLab in Stockholm/Uppsala.

“One of our strengths with the centre in Gothenburg is that, in addition to Sahlgrenska Academy and the Faculty of Science, we also have Region Västra Götaland and AstraZeneca involved,” says Co-Director Margit Mahlapuu.

“I am particularly pleased that this very large investment also includes basic research in virtually all areas of science and medicine. The investment further strengthens the areas within the faculty where we already have world-leading research and unique master's programs,” says Faculty of Science Dean Göran Hilmersson.

Currently, 20 research groups within WCMTM are trying to answer some of the most important questions within metabolism, neuroscience, cancer, inflammation, degenerative diseases, genomics, and life science chemistry. Each group is led by a young head of research recruited to a career position who has been given a generous start package for use in building up a successful research group. In parallel, researching clinicians are recruited and given the opportunity to conduct research half-time, which allows them to integrate both basic research and clinical research within the centre.

More about the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation’s initiative in data-drive life science

The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation’s initiative heavily emphasises precision medicine and diagnostics, epidemiology and infection biology, evolution and biodiversity, and cell and molecular biology.

Data processing and AI have an increasingly large importance for research and development within the natural sciences and medicine. A highly relevant example is society’s defences against pandemics, where the collection and analysis of large amounts of biological and medical data are essential in tracking the spread of disease and in providing politicians and authorities with scientifically grounded advice.

The Foundation’s initiative is intended to ensure future access to researchers within data-driven life science, both in academia and industry. The plan calls for recruiting 39 international leading researchers, a research school for 260 doctoral students/industrial doctoral students, and 210 postdoctoral positions nationally.

The host of the programme, which will run until 2032, is SciLifeLab in collaboration with the Wallenberg Centres for Molecular Medicine at the universities in Gothenburg, Lund, Linköping and Umeå and the Swedish research universities.

The four Wallenberg Centres and SciLifeLab have had a well-functioning partnership for some time. This is formalised within the National Molecular Medicine Fellows Program (NMMP) and in other areas.

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