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Published: 22 Oct, 2020

The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation invests in infection medicine

NEWS The Wallenberg Centre for Molecular Medicine (WCMM) in Umeå has been granted SEK 170 million in operational support and another SEK 68 million for recruitments into data-driven Life Science by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

Text: Lena Åminne

“This is an amazing investment from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation that will further strengthen the activities at the Swedish WCMM centres and hence give them the long-term security needed to accomplish pioneering research breakthroughs. We have the opportunities to make full use of this thanks to the width and strength of our research and education in infection medicine,” says Hans Adolfsson, Vice-Chancellor of Umeå University.

In 2014–2015, the foundation invested SEK 850 million in setting up four Wallenberg Centres for Molecular Medicine (WCMM) in Lund, Gothenburg, Linköping and Umeå. The goal was to strengthen Life Science in Sweden by educating future researchers and heads of research and in thus way guarantee high research standards. The support runs out in 2024 but the continued operational support of a total of SEK 600 million means that the work can continue until 2028.

The financial support is included in a national investment into Life Science in which Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation invests a total of SEK 3.7 billion over twelve years, of which SEK 3.1 billion is an investment aimed particularly at data-driven Life Science. Data-driven Life Science spans across a wide set of fields from cellular and molecular biology to precision medicine and infectious disease medicine. Rapid technological development in Life Science combined with the advancement in data processing and AI is increasingly importance in research and development, and covers nearly all fields of natural sciences and medicine.

“In Umeå, focus lies particularly on infectious medicine and this support provides us with the opportunity to make three further recruitments within infectious disease medicine and infection biology, and one recruitment into precision medicine and diagnostics. These positions include, beside salary to the research fellows, also powerful support that allows further recruitments of staff needed and opportunities to let the research commence immediately. This is an influential investment that allows for international top recruitments to Umeå with focus on data-driven research,” says Professor Lars Nyberg, director of WCMM Umeå.

The investment in infectious disease medicine and infection biology has ties to the ongoing pandemic, but can also be of use in advancing knowledge to deal with future pandemics. Umeå University is home to one of the strongest research environments in Europe: the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS), which is a part of the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine. The endeavours to strengthen WCMM Umeå with three top recruitments in infectious medicine and infection biology will take place in close collaboration with MIMS and aim to further fortify Umeå’s already strong position in the field.

“We are delighted to see infection medicine strengthened further in Umeå, and I look forward to collaborating with WCMM to foster the next generation of talented researchers in this area,” says Professor Oliver Billker, director of MIMS.

The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation’s investment into data-driven Life Science will be positioned in the national infrastructure Science for Life Laboratory. Just over SEK 1 billion has been set aside for 260 doctoral student positions and 210 postdoctoral fellowships that will be advertised in national competition. In addition to this, large resources are also spent on artificial intelligence, bioinformatics and databases.

Contact

Lars Nyberg
Professor, other position
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