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Published: 2020-05-13 Updated: 2020-06-25, 15:19

Umeå researchers take up the fight against covid-19 with SciLifeLab support

NEWS The national initiative of SciLifeLab and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation will fund 67 projects, all of which focus on combating the corona pandemic. Researchers at Umeå University are granted a total of SEK 3.4 million distributed over six projects.

Text: Ingrid Söderbergh

”Of course, it is very fun to see that Umeå University researchers are at the forefront and competitive even in research that has significance for the ongoing pandemic. This is another confirmation of the strong infection research in Umeå, where the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS) plays an extremely important role”, says Patrik Danielson, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Umeå University.

Mikael Elofsson, dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at Umeå University, agrees.

“Umeå University has strong research in the field of infection, not least within the Umeå Center for Microbial Research (UCMR) and it is good news that within SciLifelab's initiative we can contribute to meeting the challenge with covid-19”, he says.

Both researchers from the Faculty of Science and Technology and the Faculty of Medicine at Umeå University have been granted funding from the national research program. All six projects focus on fighting the corona pandemic.

The large research program is divided into nine areas. In the area of ​​Drug discovery and repurposing of drugs is one of the Umeå projects led by Gerhard Gröbner, professor at the Department of Chemistry. It concerns finding suitable drug candidates against the SARS-coV-2 virus using magnetic X-ray-based high-efficiency screening of appropriate substance libraries to find substances that act directly against two important target proteins that the virus has.

“The study is a collaboration between researchers at Gothenburg University and Umeå University, where the Umeå-based national SciLifeLab nodes Swedish NMR Centre and Chemical Biology Consortium Sweden are used together with Umeå University's own Protein Expertise Platform (PEP), where the target protein is produced. Our virologists will test identified candidates for the virus”, says Gerhard Gröbner.

SciLifeLab's announcement opened in March 2020 shortly after the outbreak of the pandemic. A total of 285 applications were received, of which 67 projects were granted research funding. The projects within the national research program are funded by SciLifeLab in collaboration with Knut and Alice Wallenberg's foundation with a total of SEK 50 million.


Granted projects at Umeå University

Functional characterization of Covid19-host response using single-cell transcriptomics and CRISPR screens

Grant: 700 000 SEK
Main applicant: Anna Överby Wernstedt, docent in virologi, lecturer in immunologi at the Department of clinical microbiology, Umeå University
Co-applicant: Niklas Arnberg, Annasara Lenman, Johan Henriksson, Umeå University. Åke Lundkvist, Fredrik Barrenäs, Johan Ankarklev, Jessica Nordlund, Uppsala University. Bernhard Schmierer, KI

Mapping interactions between SARS-CoV and human proteins for drug repurposing

Grant: 500 000 SEK
Main applicant: Ylva Ivarsson, professor in biological chemistry, Uppsala University
Co-applicant: Anna Överby Wernstedt, Umeå University, Per Jemth, Uppsala University, Norman Davey, Institute of Cancer Research, London. Evangelia Petsalaki EMBL-EBI, Hinxton.

Seroprevalence and predictors of COVID-19 disease severity in two areas of Sweden

Grant: 500 000 SEK
Main applicant: Anne Lindberg, docent, överläkare, Institutionen för folkhälsa och klinisk medicin, Umeå universitet
Co-applicant: Fredrik Elgh, Joacim Rocklöv, Eva Rönmark, Helena Backman, Umeå universitet. Bright Nwaru och Bo Lundbäck, Göteborgs universitet

COVID-UMU: Sample collection and understanding the transition from mild to severe COVID-19

Grant: 970 000 SEK
Main applicant: Clas Ahlm, professor, överläkare, FOU-direktör Region Västerbotten
Co-applicant: Magnus Evander, Mattias Forsell, Johan Normark, Anna Överby Wernstedt, Umeå universitet. Alicia Edin och Camilla Brorson, Region Västerbotten

FragCor: Identification of suitable drug candidates against SARS-coV-2 virus by NMR high-throughput screening.

Grant: 450 000 SEK
Main applicant: Göran Karlsson, head of Swedish NMR Centre, professor at Göteborgs University
Co-applicant: Gerhard Gröbner, Jurgen Schleucher, Uwe H. Sauer, Erik Chorell, Anna Överby Wernstedt, Umeå University

Genetic screens to identify novel determinants of SARS-CoV-2 infection

Grant: 250 000 SEK

Main applicant: Niklas Arnberg, professor in virologi, Department of clinical mirobiology, Umeå University
Co-applicant: Jordi Carreras Puigvet, Bartlomeij Porebski, Alba Corman, Bernard Schmierer, Science for Life Laboratory


More information

Read about all grants at SciLifelab website


For more information, please contact;

Anna Överby Wernstedt
Professor (on leave), professor, research fellow
Anne Lindberg
Professor, senior consultant (attending) physician
Clas Ahlm
Professor, senior consultant (attending) physician