On November 17, the vice-chancellor decided to appoint the following five proposals to be included in the continued work of developing a profile area application to The Swedish Research Council in spring 2023. However, no decision has yet been made by the government. The five selected are: A Sustainable Digital Society, Age-related disease and therapy development, Cultural Heritage and Sustainability: towards an integrated approach (CULTSUS), Molecular Life Science, UGOT OCEAN.
A Sustainable Digital Society
Jan Ljungberg, Professor of Informatics, is the contact person for the profile area A Sustainable Digital Society. He says that the area consists of three parts: Development of digital technology, Innovations and value creation, as well as Critical understanding of technology's impact on society and its institutions.
The IT Faculty has been collaborating with all the faculties at the University of Gothenburg for some time.
– It is important to balance the potential of digitalization with an understanding of its consequences. Therefore, an interdisciplinary profile area on this subject is extremely important. The faculty also has a long tradition of collaboration with the City of Gothenburg, the Västra Götaland region and companies such as Volvo, SKF, Ericsson and Astra Zeneca. The faculty also hosts two centres, the Software Centre and the Swedish Center for Digital Innovation, both of which collaborate extensively with industry and the public sector.
– The idea behind the profile area is to gather all these different stakeholders, take advantage of all the good experience and thus develop the IT area further.
Regardless of what happens with the profile areas, Jan Ljungberg believes that the IT Faculty will continue to develop collaboration regarding the opportunities and challenges of digitalization.
– In Scandinavia, there is no environment within information technology that can be compared to the one at the University of Gothenburg. We have both world-renowned research teams, an IT Faculty and a surrounding society with a strong focus on digitalization. A large proportion of Sweden's industrial companies are located in the region, and organizations such as AI Innovation Sweden have their headquarters here.
Age-related Disease and Therapy Development
Anders Rosengren, Professor of Molecular Medicine, is the contact person for the profile area Age-related disease and therapy development.
– Problems with metabolism are the cause of many endemic diseases, which affect people of different ages. Often, the diseases are managed separately in silos and defined according to their symptoms; it involves, among other things, various forms of cancer, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis. But even if the diseases are very different, there can be commonalities at the molecular level. Our hypothesis is that changes in metabolism are one such commonality. If we succeed in finding the root causes of various health problems, the opportunities for both prevention and treatment increase.
Therefore, the purpose of the profile area is to bring together researchers within the Sahlgrenska Academy who, on both a molecular and clinical level, conduct research on the major endemic diseases, Anders Rosengren explains
Cultural Heritage and Sustainability: Towards an Integrated Approach (CULTSUS)
Ola Wetterberg, Professor of Conservation, is the contact person for the profile area Cultural Heritage and Sustainability. It is about complementing the three dimensions of sustainable development – environmental, social and economic – with a fourth that highlights cultural heritage.
– Culture and sustainability are connected in a variety of ways. Some examples are sustainable construction and social planning, as well as sustainable tourism. We need to make a transition in every possible way, and knowledge of our cultural heritage plays a very important role.
Cultural heritage is about how people relate to their surroundings, and about what we bring with us from the past to the future. The area has a philosophical and theoretical perspective and can be about growth and global justice. But it is also extremely practical and an applied field, where both craftsmanship, conservation practices and building technology are included, says Ola Wetterberg.
– The profile area is very interdisciplinary and connects six faculty areas and three centres: The Centre for Tourism, the Centre for Digital Humanities and the Craft Laboratory. The profile is also based on collaboration with the Heritage Academy, the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies and University College London.
Ola Wetterberg is not concerned that there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the profile areas.
– These are issues we want to work on, regardless of the funding model.
Molecular Life Science
The Molecular Life Science profile area examines the macromolecules that control the function of living cells, for example control of chemical processes, metabolism and communication between cells. By learning to understand these processes, the potential of treating diseases in humans as well as in plants and animals increases. The field is directly linked to several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as Good Health and Well-Being, Zero Hunger, Life Below Water, Life on Land, as well as Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.
At the University of Gothenburg, there are approximately 60 research teams in the field and that several of them are very successful is demonstrated by the latest Shanghai Ranking: Human Biological Sciences at the University of Gothenburg is ranked highest in Sweden (23rd place internationally) and Biological Sciences is ranked second in Sweden (36th place internationally).
– The field involves collaboration between the Faculty of Science and the Sahlgrenska Academy, but also the IT Faculty, for example when it comes to machine learning to highlight relationships within large biological data sets and to extract new functional and medical insights that would otherwise not have been available. We also collaborate with external stakeholders, such as Astra Zeneca. Biotechnology is big in Gothenburg, so even from a Västra Götaland perspective, an investment in this area is very significant, explains Richard Neutze, Professor of Biochemistry.
The “UGOT Ocean” profile area addresses today’s urgent ocean sustainability challenges by providing an excellent and multidisciplinary science base for the transformative governance and management needed to guide an innovative and sustainable use of ocean resources. It aspires to make important contributions to the global roadmap for marine research- and infrastructure development described in the UN Decade of Ocean Science. UGOT Ocean offers unique preconditions to further strengthening existing and emerging nodes of excellent multidisciplinary research, strategic investments in research infrastructure and cross-faculty coordination, as well as broad range of collaborative platforms for inclusive, transdisciplinary research.
- To solve the major challenges we face when it comes to the sea, we need interdisciplinary collaborations, both nationally and internationally. That is where GU and the Marine Environment Institute are well equipped and can contribute, which we are already doing, says Kajsa Tönnesson, head of the Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment.