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Published: 2022-04-22

The professor who feels that anything is possible!

PROFILE Margareta and Erik Modig's prize from the Royal Skyttean Society is a prize where someone nominates laureates who are then selected and awarded SEK 200,000. This year the prize went to Per Lindqvist, professor of clinical physiology.

Text: Heléne Andersson
Image: Mattias Pettersson

- Congratulations Per! Tell us more about the price, what is it about?

"I think I got the award for my scientific contribution within the faculty," says Per, who also believes that it is honorable to receive this award.

For active in medicine and research, Per has been a long time. He graduated as a biomedical analyst in 1987, because the combination of medicine and technology/diagnostics interested him. After graduating, he moved down to Sundsvall and worked for 12 years at a modern clinical physiology lab. It was new and with great opportunities. At the time, the BMA profession was primarily to assist the medical profession, something that drove Per to start researching himself.

The trip is worth more than the goal

"I wanted to teach myself, do it for my own curiosity," says Per, who believes that this is how the interest in research was born.

Per was one of the first biomedical analysts in Sweden to defend his phD and has since gone on that path. Today, he is a professor and believes that his journey has been different from, for example, a doctor's journey that is perhaps somewhat more predetermined. At times it has been frustrating, but mostly just stimulating.

The trip is worth more than the destination. I have learned a lot about the system and finding "my way". Becoming a professor, with the background I have, makes me appreciate it even more," says Per.

Per, who is the first in his family to become a professor, has struggled to get to where he is today, and worked hard for it and feels very privileged. But he is also a role model, as clinical physiology now has six to seven as phD students. Per showed that it was possible to study and research further after completing BMA education.

Since then, the research has been rolling on and Per has received funding from several of the majors for his research on thick hearts and preferably heart myloidosis. He believes that the reason is partly because it is in vogue right now.

"We have found methods to find the disease cardiac myloidosis, but also treatment for it," says Per.

The research has niched itself on the heart part of skellefte disease. It has been discovered that heart defects not only occur due to heredity, but that the increasing age is also likely to carry an increased risk. That very factor they have seen become more common, probably because we are getting older now than we were before. The research has produced different types of treatment, one of which is clinically available and a medicine that slows down the disease itself, but does not cure it. Other treatment studies have begun to look at different types of gene therapy. In Umeå,

patients have also been included in the gene scissors method, CRISPR-Cas9, for which Emmanuelle Charpentier was awarded the Nobel Prize for 2020.

In addition to his own research, Per R&D has responsibility within the heart center and works to maintain the status of a university hospital. Right now there will be less time for the clinical work, there are other talented people who take care of that particular part. He feels that there are bigger tasks to be done.

"I want to make the organisation think cross-border, region and university. I want to get the staff at a university hospital to understand the importance of that mindset," says Per.

For a university hospital must find routines and working methods that enable both clinical work, teaching and research. Fyslabb was among the first to write a memo about what was expected of those who do research, in order to get the collaboration well. Something that Per says has worked very well. An expectation document that is something to go back to and lean on in everyday life to make the different bodies feel safe and community. For Per, it is important that we blur the feeling between the region and the university, something that must be actively worked on at all times.

We have to! It will take time and it is a joint work, says Per.

The collaboration and the organizational challenge is something Per is passionate about and wants to achieve. He wants to take advantage of the skills that exist within the organization and sees it all as a team building.

"The environment is important there," says Per, because there must be a climate that is permissive and open to cooperation.

Anything is possible

In his free time, Per likes to spend time with his partner, dog, family and friends. The summer cottage outside Nordmaling attracts during May-October. Still, Per feels that work and free time flow together because the job is so fun and interesting.

"It's limitless," says Per, who is not stressed by it at all, but rather makes him feel good.

It is the feeling of wanting to know a little more that is what drives Per in his work.

- I'm unfinished. I never felt that, now I've understood this. I am still curious, searching and interested in understanding a little better.

Per's journey shows that it is possible to pursue a career in different ways, to take different paths no matter where you come from. He wants to show that anything is possible if you just dare and take care of yourself.

- Don't ask if you can. If you want to do it, do it, concludes Per.

Facts about Per

Age: Turns 62 in May 
Family: Sambo, dog and three adult children 
In 10 years I´ll be doing this: I'll be retired. But I'm ambivalent about when, we'll see.  
Favorite travel destination: Barcelona. The city that has baths, food and culture. 
I prefer to listen to: Vinyl. I mostly listen to 60-70's music. 
Prefers to watch: English crime series, like Trigger Point and sports. I am really in to sports and find pleasure in good matches.  
Fun fact: At a young age, Per was nicknamed Jashin after the Russian football goalkeeper. Per was ordered to "Go and stand in the goal cage". Jashin was big, while Per was very small, maybe that's why? Since then, the nickname has lingered and some of his childhood friends still call him that today.