Skip to content

Students who have not changed their password since 7 May cannot log in to the student web. Read about how to change your password.

Main menu hidden.
Published: 2024-03-01 Updated: 2024-03-27, 09:07

Umeå professor awarded for her TBE research

NEWS Anna Överby Wernstedt, professor at the Department of Clinical Microbiology at Umeå University, is one of five young researchers who will share the Göran Gustafsson Prize of a total of SEK 33 million. In her research, Wernstedt focuses on the tick-borne TBE virus.

This year, the prize money has been increased to SEK 6.6 million each, of which SEK 300,000 consists of a personal prize and the rest is a grant spread over three years. The money is awarded to young researchers (no more than 45 years old) in medicine, molecular biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. The five researchers, four of whom work at Lund, Uppsala, Gothenburg and Stockholm University, respectively, are at the absolute forefront of their field. With the help of the grant, they will have the opportunity to focus on their research in Sweden.

Anna Överby Wernstedt receives the prize in medicine "for contributions to the understanding of molecular mechanisms behind viral tropism in human infectious diseases".

Wernstedt has primarily focused on the tick-borne TBE virus. It belongs to a family of flaviviruses that also includes, for example, viruses that cause dengue fever and hepatitis C. Among other things, she is trying to find out how the TBE virus enters the brain. But she has also taken a closer look at how the body defends itself against the virus. Among other things, it has been shown that cells in the brain can interact to prevent the virus from spreading further. Most people who are infected recover from the disease, but in a third of the cases, the virus leads to long-term inflammation of the brain and meninges. How the body's own immune system contributes to inflammation is another thing that Anna Överby Wernstedt has investigated. To help her, she has, among other things, advanced molecular techniques and experiments on mice.

There is a vaccine against TBE, but no cure yet. The long-term goal is therefore to be able to contribute to the development of drugs against the disease.
"The TBE virus is an exciting virus to study and extremely relevant in Sweden and in Europe. Cases are increasing and last year almost 600 people were infected with the inflammation. That's a lot, especially if you consider that between 30 and 50 per cent of these people don't recover completely afterwards," says Anna Överby Wernstedt, who was both happy and surprised when she received the news that she had been awarded the Göran Gustafsson Prize. "It's a fantastic feeling and a tremendous honor.

The Göran Gustafsson Prize

The Göran Gustafsson Prize consists of a research grant of SEK 6.3 million each, spread over three years, and a personal prize of SEK 300,000. Swedish universities and university colleges nominate candidates, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences reviews the proposals and the laureates are then appointed by the Göran Gustafsson Foundation for Natural Science and Medical Research. The Göran Gustafsson Prize has existed since 1991. The foundation was established in 1989 after a donation from entrepreneur and businessman Göran Gustafsson (1919–2003). The laureates must be no more than 45 years old and intend to carry out most of their research in Sweden.