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Published: 17 Jun, 2008

Chemistry professor will be awarded the Nordea Science Prize

NEWS Michael Sjöström, professor in organic chemistry at Umeå University, will be awarded the Nordea Science Prize 2008 for his research. The prize of SEK 100 000 will be awarded during Umeå University’s Graduation Ceremony on 18 October.

Michael Sjöström is an internationally renowned and frequently quoted researcher who has an extensive list of publications to his credit—over 175 scientific articles in international journals. His wide-ranging research, his commitment to education and his collaboration with industry have helped to make him a worthy recipient of the Nordea Science Prize. Michael Sjöström’s research field is chemometrics, a subject area that aims to analyze large amounts of data and to optimize the number of trials by making the samples as representative as possible.

– Not only is the development of computers a reason that our work has been successful, but a favourable environment for cooperation has been created that transcends all boundaries where chemists, doctors, biologists, psychologists and even industry can work together, states Michael Sjöström.

He is currently working with a large EU-project, which deals with predicting the acute toxicity of tens of thousands of different chemical compounds. The object is to find alternatives to experimentation on animals, the most commonly used method.

During his career, Michael Sjöström has examined a huge number of different issues in chemometrics. He has studied methods for finding differences among thousands of variables when the number of samples was large. For example, it can involve discovering how samples from one group of patients differ from a health control group. He has also examined links between chemical variables for series of compounds and the biological activity of the compounds; information that is of interest for pharmaceutical industry.

Another area of concentration is experimental design, where the object is to compile interesting information from only a few trails. This method is used to select a few representative chemicals for biological testing from a chemical compound class that consists of numerous polluting substances.

Michael Sjöström was born in Sollefteå, Sweden, but he grew up on the West Coast. He was awarded his Doctoral degree from Umeå University in 1976 after which he accepted a post-doctoral position at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA. Afterwards, he returned to Umeå University and in the year 2000 he was promoted to professor in organic chemistry.

The Nordea Scientific Prize has been awarded each year since 1995 and the prize money is SEK 100 000. For the most part, the Prize is awarded to a researcher at Umeå University who has made outstanding scientific contributions in the fields of social science, legal science and computer science.

Editor: Karin Wikman