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Published: 2023-06-01 Updated: 2023-06-02, 09:39

Cancer Researcher and Comedian become New Honorary Doctors of Medicine

NEWS Professor Nigel Mongan and the comedian Olof Wretling will be the new honorary doctors at the Faculty of Medicine at Umeå University in 2023.

Text: Ola Nilsson

Nigel Mongan is Professor of Oncology at the University of Nottingham, UK, and Adjunct Professor of Pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical Center, USA. He has been a driving force in developing an extensive research collaboration between Nottingham and Umeå.

"Given Umeå University's ambition to enhance our position in successful research at international level, it feels very good that we can strengthen our ties with Professor Mongan and award him an honorary doctorate”, says Patrik Danielson, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Umeå University.

Thanks to Nigel Mongan, the collaboration between Umeå University and the University of Nottingham has developed into a strategic partnership with both a joint research technology platform and programs for the exchange of education, doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers.

In its extensive cancer research program, Nigel Mongan's laboratory has developed unique technologies, including a better understanding of gene expression and RNA splicing mechanisms and how these are disrupted in cancer. New therapeutics are in development targeting these mechanisms which should benefit patients with prostate and other cancer types. Nigel Mongan has generously shared this technology with a research group in Umeå led by Professor Jenny Persson, which has made new discoveries thanks to this. Research groups at Umeå University have shared unique stem cell-based technologies and in vivo models with research groups in Nottingham, which has enabled the discovery of new targets for drug development.

The collaborations that Nigel Mongan has initiated with Umeå University have led to over 30 scientific articles in international scientific journals.

Olof Wretling is a popular Swedish actor and comedian. Among other things, with the performance "The diagnoses in my life", Olof Wretling shows, in a humorous way but spiced with seriousness, the importance of getting information about a diagnosis. He describes the self-experienced problems of multi-year diagnosis with difficulty to understand labels and how it has affected his life and work and how it has caused anxiety and led to continued care seeking.

"Olof Wretling shows that humour also has a place in the medical world. In this way, humour can help reduce the threshold for people to dare to ask about their diagnosis, which eventually can actually be important for health," says Patrik Danielson, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Umeå University.

In health care, it is important that the patient is well informed and participates in their own rehabilitation in order to achieve the best possible results. The dilemma in healthcare with making a diagnosis and explaining the diagnosis in an understandable way, is therefore an important area that has consequences both for the individual and for society.

"I still remember the cold shower when I opened the perforated letter with the results of the Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test, 0.2! That must not be true, I had even misspelled my own name; it said Olf. The dream of studying to become a doctor, physiotherapist or speech therapist fell apart. I became a comedian instead. But curiosity about the human body and its mysteries instead became part of my storytelling and comedy. So, it was probably destiny, that it said 0.2 and not 2.0 in the perforated letter,” says Olof Wretling.

The honorary doctors will be installed at Umeå University's annual ceremony in October.


Patrik Danielson
Professor, senior consultant (attending) physician, professor