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Published: 2019-05-17 Updated: 2024-02-01, 11:46

The Kempe Foundation issues major funding for integrated structural biology

NEWS Umeå University is uniquely positioned in Sweden with a complete and first-class technical infrastructure for research in structural biology. As a result of a large grant from the Kempe Foundation, a postdoctoral programme has been initiated to stimulate bold structural biology research of the highest class.

Text: Ingrid Söderbergh

Umeå University, together with external funding providers, has invested heavily in integrated structural biology research. It has yielded results and the University today has well-developed infrastructures for the four cornerstones of structural biology, which are: electron microscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, computational chemistry and X-ray crystallography .The first three listed are classified as national infrastructures and support researchers from all over Sweden.
At Umeå University and the Swedish Defence Research Agency FOI, there are a total of 15 research groups that together develop the integrated structural biology with joint activities. The environment has an efficient and dynamic mix of senior and new research leaders from both the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Medicine.
Recent recruitments at the University are the electron microscopy specialists Jonas Barandun and Magnus Andersson who have expertise in time-resolved X-ray scattering methodology.
“These recruitments give the structural biology environment at Umeå an additional high competence in areas that are very important for future structural biological research,” says Magnus Wolf-Watz, Professor at the Department of Chemistry at Umeå University. He carries out research on protein dynamics in NMR and coordinates the integrated structural biology.
The Kempe Foundation has now issued a grant of SEK 4 million for a postdoctoral programme in integrated structural biology with the objective of stimulating innovative research at the interfaces between structural biology techniques.
In total, the Kempe Foundation is providing funding for five postdoctoral fellowships in two calls, one in 2019 and one in 2020. To encourage new and daring projects, the postdoctoral fellowships will come with an annual operating budget.

“This provides excellent opportunities for investments in projects that will take structural biology at Umeå University into the future,” says Magnus Wolf-Watz. “The venture is focused on postdoctoral fellowships and the best candidates in the calls will be chosen through a variant of a model developed at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and Umeå Centre for Microbial Research (UCMR).”
The process of selecting the most suitable candidates will be led by Professor Oliver Billker, Director of Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS). By encouraging tripartite three-party constellations, the initiative is broad and open to researchers at Umeå University.

Brief information about the postdoctoral fellowships

Two postdoctoral fellowships will be available in 2019 and three postdoctoral fellowships will be announced in 2020. The fellowships are provided with an operating budget of SEK 100,000 per year and a postdoc position. Constellations that are qualified to apply to the programme are either two research leaders with different structural biology expertise, or three-party constellations with two research leaders with different structural biology expertise and a research leader in another area. The main applicant should be a structural biologist.

The call for applications opens on May 17


Read about the structural biology infrastructure at Umeå University:


Electron microscopy

Contact: linda.sandblad@umu.se

NMR spectroscopy

Contact: gerhard.grobner@umu.se

High performance computing

Contact: bo.kagstrom@umu.se

X-ray Diffraction Facility (XRDF)

Contact: uwe.sauer@umu.se


Fact box structural biology

The function of proteins is determined by their three-dimensional structure. The science that focuses on the interaction between structure and function is called structural biology. There are four main techniques to study protein structures and all these techniques are well developed at Umeå University (electron microscopy, X-ray crystallography (nuclear magnetic resonance NMR spectroscopy and computational structural biology). Structural biology has contributed to many major scientific breakthroughs such as the structure of the DNA double helix, the development of one of the first drugs for HIV infection and the structural determination of the protein synthesis machine – the ribosome.


For more information, please contact:

Ronnie Berntsson
Associate professor