Integrative Molecular Phenotyping
INTEGRATIVE MOLECULAR
PHENOTYPING
WHEELOCK LABORATORY
DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL
BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOPHYSICS
WHEELOCK LABORATORY
DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL
BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOPHYSICS
WHEELOCK LABORATORY
DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL
BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOPHYSICS
WHEELOCK LABORATORY
DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL
BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOPHYSICS
WHEELOCK LABORATORY
DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL
BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOPHYSICS
WHEELOCK LABORATORY

KI News

Updated: 1 hour 8 min ago

KI-researchers receive funding from AFA Insurance

Thu, 06/07/2017 - 14:41
Three researchers from Karolinska Institutet receive a total of SEK 9.5 million in research funding from AFA insurance, for research that will help reduce occupational injuries and long-term sickness absence. Gun Johansson at the Institute of Environmental Medicine receives SEK 2,960,000 to evaluate the effects that organisational and social measures within the workplace in the construction industry have on working conditions, health and occupational injuries. The research project runs until 2019, and the hope is to reduce levels of mental illness in the construction industry, and that the knowledge acquired will lead to fewer occupational injuries. Gunnar Bergström at the Institute of Environmental Medicine receives SEK 4,130,000 to study the link between sickness presenteeism (working while sick) and sickness absence, various types of illnesses, future sickness and decreased productivity. The research project runs until 2019 and is expected to increase knowledge about the relationship between the ability to work/illness, the effects of sickness presenteeism on health and productivity and the positive effects of sickness presenteeism when returning to adapted work after rehabilitation.  Eva Skillgate at the Institute of Environmental Medicine receives SEK 2,500,000 to investigate the significance of work- and lifestyle factors in respect of the risk of neck and back pain resulting in long-term disability, with or without the absence of psychological problems. The research project continues until 2020 and the expectations in terms of the results is that it will be possible to use them for preventive measures against this type of problems.

The Center for Innovative Medicine changes focus and board

Wed, 05/07/2017 - 13:50
CIMED, the Center for Innovative Medicine, is changing its focus and have a new board starting from 1 July. In addition to the new board with a greater clinical competence, CIMED is to focus more on supporting clinical research than previously. Research on chronic diseases and diseases with a heavy disease burden will also have a high priority. The CIMED board’s period of office came to an end on 30 June and acting Pro-Vice-Chancellor Anders Ekbom took the formal decision on the changes the day before. The decision was taken in consultation with County Council Director Malin Frenning and the KI- Stockholm County Council (SLL) management team. CIMED, whose objective is to find new treatments for endemic diseases, was inaugurated in 2015 and is funded primarily by SLL, but is a part of KI’s organization. SLL has now reviewed the support it provides to CIMED, which amounts to SEK 81 million annually.  In brief, the decision means that CIMED will have a more distinct focus on supporting clinical research than before. This involves providing support to both clinical research projects that are sought in competition and part-time clinical research positions, and to infrastructure that supports clinical research. The research must also be conducted in the Flemingsberg area. Research on chronic diseases and diseases with a heavy disease burden are to be prioritized. In addition to a new board, CIMED will also have a new head active within clinical research in Flemingsberg. The position will be announced and applied for in open competition.  CIMED’s new board Peter Lönnroth, professor, chair Lars I Eriksson, professor, SLL Anna Martling, professor, SLL Annika Tibell, professor, SLL Karin Dahlman-Wright, professor, KI Ulf Hedin, professor, KI Peter Stenvinkel, professor, KI

Major Vinnova and SRC grant for a new cell- and gene therapy centre

Wed, 05/07/2017 - 11:17
Karolinska Institutet and the Karolinska University Hospital will play core roles as Vinnova and the Swedish Research Council (SRC) grant SEK 48 million to the up building of a centre for development of advanced medical products within cell and gene therapies.  The centre, to be known as the Centre for Advanced Medical Products (CAMP), will be led by Pontus Blomberg, acting head of Karolinska Cell Therapy Centre at Karolinska University Hospital and associated professor at the Department of Laboratory Medicine at KI. Matti Sällberg, Professor and head of the Department of Laboratory Medicine, will be a member of the centre’s board. “The investment in CAMP is very gratifying and of great strategic national importance”, says Pontus Blomberg. The areas of cell and gene therapies are gaining ground fast, and products based on cells and genes can already be found as approved drugs. Intensive research is conducted in both Swedish academia and industry to develop the areas further. The grant will support these efforts and the objective is for the centre to be an internationally recognized player in the development of new treatments, and to contribute to national industrial growth within the field. CAMP will have a broad national base with collaborating parties from academia, research institutes, the health and medical care sector, the pharmaceutical industry and bioengineering companies.

AI analyses X-rays as well as doctors

Tue, 04/07/2017 - 11:36
Many jobs, medical and otherwise, might one day be performed using artificial intelligence. According to a new study in Acta Orthopaedica by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in collaboration with the Royal Institute of Technology and Danderyd Hospital in Sweden, self-learning programmes can already find fractures with the same accuracy as orthopaedists. Assessing radiographs requires a great deal of expertise and time, with the results very much depending on the doctor. However, artificial intelligence (AI) can simplify and standardise the work considerably, according to Max Gordon, assistant consultant in orthopaedics at Danderyd Hospital and researcher at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, who has now published a study on how radiographs can be read using computers trained in fracture recognition. “Our study shows that AI networks can make assessments on a par with human specialists, and we hope that we’ll be able to achieve even better results with high-res X-ray images,” says Dr Gordon. Analysis of 256,000 images AI-facilitated image analysis had its major breakthrough in 2012, when the algorithm that astounded the computer world was compared to a human three-times worse at recognising objects in pictures from the internet. In only three years, it was at human level and by 2016 it was twice as good. This made Dr Gordon think about how the technique could be used in the fields of orthopaedics and radiograph analysis. In the present study, the researchers had existing AI image-recognition algorithms go through a total of 256,000 radiographs of hands, wrists and ankles from the Danderyd Hospital archives. The computer was trained how to identify fractures in two thirds of the radiographs under the guidance of the researchers and then was left to independently analyse the remaining images, which were thus completely new to the AI programme. Two consultants simultaneously analysed the same radiographs. The team found that the computer and the doctors made equally accurate analyses given the same image resolution, both finding the presence of a fracture in over 80 per cent of the cases. Many new opportunities The AI programme, which is inspired by the learning processes of the human brain, has the potential to be even better at its job if it has access to greater amounts of data. The researchers have therefore begun a follow-up study based on Danderyd Hospital’s entire orthopaedic archive of over a million high-resolution radiographs. “AI can lead to a more uniform classification and a common standard in radiograph analysis,” says Dr Gordon. “If we can go back to our digital archives, we’ll also be able to do extensive research on survival, the development of disease and work capacity – studies that have been impossible to do owing to the amount of data to process.” Publication “Artificial intelligence for analyzing orthopedic trauma radiographs: Deep learning algorithms - are they on par with humans for diagnosing fractures?” Jakub Olczak, Niklas Fahlberg, Atsuto Maki, Ali Sharif Razavian, Anthony Jilert, André Stark, Olof Sköldenberg, Max Gordon Acta Orthopaedica, 3 July 2017

Erik K Fernström prize awarded to cancer researcher Óscar Fernandez-Capetillo

Fri, 30/06/2017 - 08:47
Óscar Fernandez-Capetillo, professor of cancer therapy at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics has been awarded the prize for his pioneering research on how DNA damage can lead to cancer and ageing. Óscar Fernandez-Capetillo researches replicative stress and replicative damage to DNA – in other words, the irregularities that occur when DNA copies itself during cell division. Such damage causes both ageing and cancer. Fernandez-Capetillo’s research interest lies in what causes this replicative stress and how cells discover and repair the resulting damage, a process in which the enzyme ATR kinase plays a key role. He has shown, for instance, that replicative stress accelerates ageing in mammals, and that ATR-blockers are a future cancer drug candidate. His group at Karolinska Institutet is also working on developing a treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Óscar Fernandez-Capetillo was born in 1974. He was made professor of cancer therapy at KI on 1 January 2015. The Erik K Fernström prize The Eric K. Fernström Foundation was established in 1978 and annually awards a Nordic prize and six prizes to young and particularly promising researchers who have made outstanding contributions to medical science. Each medical faculty of the country elects its prize-winner. 

Review on suspected scientific misconduct

Thu, 29/06/2017 - 17:51
The Expert Group on Scientific Misconduct at the Central Ethical Review Board of the Swedish Research Council has handed in its review to KI on the case of suspected scientific misconduct regarding the scientifc study "Infusion of amniocytes from extraembryonic membranes and similar mesenchymal stem cells in cases of tissue damage, haemorrhage and/or graft-versus-host disease.". The study was referred to the Central Ethical Review Board last spring by acting Vice-Chancellor Karin Dahlman-Wright as she made the decision to initiate an investigationi on the case. Following the review the case will be further processed before reaching its final decision by KI's Vice-Chancellor, probably during ths fall.

Test identifies breast cancer patients with very low risk of death

Thu, 29/06/2017 - 17:30
A molecular test can identify which patients will have a very low risk of death from breast cancer up to 20 years after diagnosis, according to a new clinical study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The results are published in JAMA Oncology. Since the introduction of screening, more breast cancer tumours with indolent, low-risk behaviour are detected. Better tools to identify such tumours are therefore needed to avoid overtreatment. Testing the expression of 70 genes In the new study, researchers sought to determine whether a 70-gene test with an ultralow risk threshold could accurately and reliably identify tumours with indolent behaviour to assess the risk of fatal breast cancer up to 20 years after diagnosis. The study was run in collaboration with the Stockholm breast cancer study group and the Stockholm tamoxifen (STO-3) trial. The new analysis included postmenopausal breast cancer patients enrolled in the STO-3 trial from 1976 until 1990, randomised to receive tamoxifen treatment versus no systemic therapy. “We concluded that the ultralow risk threshold identifies patients at very low long-term risk of dying from breast cancer,” says Senior author Linda Lindström, researcher at the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition at Karolinska Institutet. “Since breast cancer is such a diverse disease, it is important to be able to identify patients at very low long-term risk.” Important step towards personalised care The test classified 15 per cent of the patients as very low risk patients, showing that such tumours are an inherent part of the spectrum of breast cancers. Women with ultralow risk tumours had an excellent prognosis, whether or not they received tamoxifen. “This is an important step forward for personalising care for women with breast cancer,” says Laura Esserman, breast cancer specialist and professor at UCSF. “We can now test small node-negative breast cancers, and if they are in the ultralow risk category, we can tell women that they are highly unlikely to die of their cancers and do not need aggressive treatment.” The study was financed by California Breast Cancer Research Program BCRP, the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working life and Welfare (FORTE) and the Gösta Milton Donation Fund. Publication “Use of Molecular Tools to Identify Patients With Indolent Breast Cancers With Ultralow Risk Over 2 Decades”. Laura Esserman, Christina Yau, Carlie Thompson, Laura van 't Veer, Alexander Borowsky, Katherine Hoadley, Nicholas Tobin, Bo Nordenskjöld, Tommy Fornander, Olle Stål, Christopher Benz, and Linda S. Lindström JAMA Oncology, online 29 June 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2017.1261

Lennart Nilsson Award is awarded to Xiaowei Zhuang

Thu, 29/06/2017 - 14:50
Xiaowei Zhuang is the recipient of the 2017 Lennart Nilsson Award for making breakthrough discoveries in the beautiful world of cell biology, literally making the invisible visible, with the STORM technique that was developed in her laboratory. Xiaowei Zhuang is the David B. Arnold Professor of Science at Harvard University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. In 2006, she pioneered a method that would go on to revolutionize the world of fluorescence microscopy. She developed a single-molecule-based super-resolution light microscopy method called “Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy” or STORM. It overcame the diffraction limit and extended the spatial resolution of light microscopy by an order of magnitude to a few tens of nanometers. The resolution of STORM was further extended by Xiaowei Zhuang's laboratory to a few nanometers, nearly 100 times higher than conventional diffraction-limited light microscopy. Xiaowei Zhuang has since been using STORM to illuminate the beautiful and small world of biology in the most unexpected ways. Motivation Super-resolution light microscopy techniques have revolutionized the life sciences. With the STORM technique that was developed in Dr Xiaowei Zhuang’s laboratory, she has made breakthrough discoveries in the beautiful world of cell biology, literally making the invisible visible. Her images represent a unique combination of technical mastery, frontline science, and visual esthetics, fitting perfectly in the tradition of Lennart Nilsson. About the Lennart Nilsson Award The Lennart Nilsson Award Foundation was established in 1998 in recognition of the world-renowned Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson and his extraordinary body of work. The main aim is to promote education, training and research within the medical, biological and engineering sciences through the use of images. This is achieved through the Lennart Nilsson Award, an international award bestowed annually upon an individual in recognition of outstanding contributions within the realm of scientific photography.

2017 Pedagogical Prize awarded to Ewa Ehrenborg

Thu, 29/06/2017 - 13:31
Karolinska Institutet’s Pedagogical Prize for 2017 goes to Ewa Ehrenborg, professor of molecular cardiovascular medicine at the Department of Medicine in Solna in recognition of her contributions to interprofessional learning and student-activating research-based education. “Thanks to her pedagogical leadership skills, Ewa Ehrenborg has made a unique contribution to the quality of the clinical placement elements of our programmes,” says prize committee chair and dean of higher education Annika Östman Wernerson. “She is a source of inspiration and an example to both teachers and students.” With her innovative approach to teaching and learning, Professor Ehrenborg has helped to develop a form of student-activating teaching that integrates the latest research and peer learning in novel and imaginative ways. She is also something of a pioneer in developing interprofessional learning between different student groups at all academic levels. “I’m delighted and a little taken aback, as I didn’t even know I’d been nominated this year,” she says. Professor Ehrenborg has been involved in KI’s biomedicine programme for many years as a teacher, course director and member of the programme committee. She is also the director of the Centre for Clinical Education (CKU-KI) and is the coordinator for teaching capacity issues for the Board of Higher Education. “This prize is for all the people around me, both the ones I work with at KI and our partners on the outside, such as from Stockholm County Council and other universities,” she says. “Without them, everything we’ve achieved would not have been possible.” The 2017 Pedagogical Prize will be officially awarded at KI’s installation ceremony, which is to be held in the Erling Persson room, Aula Medica, on 12 October 2017.   Click here for more information about KI’s Pedagogical Prize

Acupuncture does not increase fertility in women with PCOS

Tue, 27/06/2017 - 17:05
Acupuncture has no effect on involuntary childlessness caused by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the most effective treatment for PCOS being the drug chlomiphene, a joint international study conducted at Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine, China, reports. The study, which involved the participation of researchers at Karolinska Institutet, is published in JAMA. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have high levels of male sex hormone in their blood, causing irregular ovulation and difficulties conceiving. Earlier studies have shown that acupuncture reduces high levels of male sex hormone and produces more regular ovulation. A new study conducted by an international team of researchers has examined whether acupuncture also increases the number of pregnancies and the number of babies born to women with PCOS who are trying to become pregnant. Their aim was to study if acupuncture can be used as an alternative to chlomiphene stimulation, a treatment that while effective also produces adverse reactions. 1,000 women in a clinical trial The study was carried out at Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine by researchers from China, the USA, Hong Kong and Sweden in 2012–2015 and involved 27 hospitals. 1,000 women were divided into four groups, two of which received active acupuncture treatment in combination with either chlomiphene stimulation or placebo, the other two receiving a control treatment involving fewer needles inserted superficially without active stimulation, again with either chlomiphene stimulation or placebo. Few negative side-effects The results show that acupuncture is not an effective infertility treatment for women with PCOS who are trying to become pregnant, nor did it have any impact on chlomiphene stimulation. “This is important information, as many women want to use acupuncture to become pregnant,” says Elisabet Stener-Victorin, docent and researcher at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and former visiting professor at Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine. “If you have PCOS and want to become pregnant, then drug treatment is the most effective way forward. But for women who don’t wish to become pregnant yet but who have irregular ovulation and other symptoms related to high levels of male sex hormone, acupuncture can be used to relieve the symptoms as the method has no negative side-effects.” Publication ”Effect of Acupuncture and Clomiphene in Chinese Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – A Randomized Clinical Trial” Xiao-Ke Wu, Elisabet Stener-Victorin, Hong-Ying Kuang, Hong-Li Ma, Jing-Shu Gao, Liang-Zhen Xie, Li-Hui Hou, Zhen-Xing Hu, Xiao-Guang Shao, Jun Ge, Jin-Feng Zhang, Hui-Ying Xue, Xiao-Feng Xu, Rui-Ning Liang, Hong-Xia Ma, Hong-Wei Yang, Wei-Li Li, Dong-Mei Huang, Yun Sun, Cui-Fang Hao, Shao-Min Du, Zheng-Wang Yang, Xin Wang, Ying Yan, Xiu-Hua Chen, Ping Fu, Cai-Fei Ding, Ya-Qin Gao, Zhong-Ming Zhou, Chi Chiu Wang, Tai-Xiang Wu, Jian-Ping Liu, Ernest HY Ng, Richard S. Legro, Heping Zhang for PCOSAct Study Group JAMA, online 27 June 2017

SEK 138 million in grants to systems biology research

Mon, 26/06/2017 - 14:44
The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, SSF, has decided to give KI four grants of a total of SEK 138 million in a call within systems biology research. This is a multidisciplinary grant which requires collaboration between biologists, clinicians, mathematicians, computer scientists, engineers, physicists, chemists and others.  Projects are funded with SEK 29-35 million during a five-year period (2017-2021). Researchers/projects at Karolinska Institutet receiving grants Jonas Frisén – Nervcells Development and Networking in the Adult Brain (KI together with KTH and SciLifeLab) Olli Kallioniemi – Precision medicine for optimization of therapies in AML Sten Linnarsson – Cellular reprogramming for stem cell therapy Staffan Strömblad – Microbased system biologic analysis of cell migration (KI together with Uppsala and Lund University) In addition, KI is part of a project concerning new treatment strategies for brain cancer led by Uppsala University.

The presence of the protein KIF1Bβ can play a central role for the outcome of a neuroblastoma diagnosis

Thu, 22/06/2017 - 12:14
A high percentage of KIF1Bβ means a greater chance of the tumour spontaneously regressing and disappearing. These are the results of a study by Karolinska Institutet (KI) and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research Ltd. The study is to be published in the scientific journal Genes and Development. Neuroblastoma is the third most common form of childhood cancer and causes almost 15 per cent of all cancer-related deaths in children. This high mortality fully reflects both the aggressive nature of the disease and that it often gives rise to secondary tumours (metastases). Paradoxically enough, neuroblastoma also has the highest spontaneous regression frequency of all tumoural diseases. In the present study, the researchers showed that absence of KIF1Bβ contributes to normal neuroblasts not maturing into nerve cells and to a more immature neuroblastoma with a poorer prognosis. “Our study shows that unimpaired maturing of neuroblasts is a basic prerequisite for spontaneous regression of neuroblastoma. What is behind this regression is unknown, but our study is an important piece in the jigsaw for understanding the mechanisms that cause this phenomenon. Understanding this process in greater detail can provide clues for the development of new therapies. For example, it would be interesting to increase levels of KIF1Bβ activity to see if this facilitates, or even induces, tumour regression,” comments Susanne Schlisio, researcher at KI’s Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology and at Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research Ltd. High gene expression of the NGF receptor Trka correlates well with good prognoses and with spontaneous regression of the tumour. Conversely, low levels of Trka, partnered with loss of the 1p36 chromosome locus and amplification of the MYCN oncogene, are associated with poor prognoses. “We have previously shown that the kinesin protein KIF1Bβ, which is present on chromosome 1p36, is a candidate tumour suppressor and that a low expression is correlated with lower survival of neuroblastoma patients,” says Schlisio. The research is being financed with funding from the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation, the Swedish Cancer Society, the Swedish Research Council, the Paradifference Foundation and the Gösta Fraenckel Foundation for Medical Research. Publications “Neuroblast differentiation during development and in neuroblastoma requires KIF1Bβ mediated transport of TRKA”, Stuart M. Fell, Shuijie M. Li, Karin Wallis, Anna Kock, Olga Surova, Vilma Rraklli, Carolin S. Höfig, Wenyu Li, Jens Mittag, Marie Arsenian Henriksson, Rajappa S. Kenchappa, Johan Holmberg, Per Kogner and Susanne Schlisio, Genes and Development, online 21 June, 2017/297077

Presence of protein important clue to tumour regression in neuroblastoma

Thu, 22/06/2017 - 09:35
The presence of the protein KIF1Bβ can play a central role for the outcome of a neuroblastoma diagnosis. A high percentage of KIF1Bβ means a greater chance of the tumour spontaneously regressing and disappearing. These are the results of a study by Karolinska Institutet (KI) and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research Ltd. The study is to be published in the scientific journal Genes and Development. Neuroblastoma is the third most common form of childhood cancer and causes almost 15 per cent of all cancer-related deaths in children. This high mortality fully reflects both the aggressive nature of the disease and that it often gives rise to secondary tumours (metastases). Paradoxically enough, neuroblastoma also has the highest spontaneous regression frequency of all tumoural diseases. In the present study, the researchers showed that absence of KIF1Bβ contributes to normal neuroblasts not maturing into nerve cells and to a more immature neuroblastoma with a poorer prognosis. “Our study shows that unimpaired maturing of neuroblasts is a basic prerequisite for spontaneous regression of neuroblastoma. What is behind this regression is unknown, but our study is an important piece in the jigsaw for understanding the mechanisms that cause this phenomenon. Understanding this process in greater detail can provide clues for the development of new therapies. For example, it would be interesting to increase levels of KIF1Bβ activity to see if this facilitates, or even induces, tumour regression,” comments Susanne Schlisio, researcher at KI’s Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology and at Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research Ltd. High gene expression of the NGF receptor Trka correlates well with good prognoses and with spontaneous regression of the tumour. Conversely, low levels of Trka, partnered with loss of the 1p36 chromosome locus and amplification of the MYCN oncogene, are associated with poor prognoses. “We have previously shown that the kinesin protein KIF1Bβ, which is present on chromosome 1p36, is a candidate tumour suppressor and that a low expression is correlated with lower survival of neuroblastoma patients,” says Schlisio. The research is being financed with funding from the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation, the Swedish Cancer Society, the Swedish Research Council, the Paradifference Foundation and the Gösta Fraenckel Foundation for Medical Research. Publication “Neuroblast differentiation during development and in neuroblastoma requires KIF1Bβ mediated transport of TRKA”, Stuart M. Fell, Shuijie M. Li, Karin Wallis, Anna Kock, Olga Surova, Vilma Rraklli, Carolin S. Höfig, Wenyu Li, Jens Mittag, Marie Arsenian Henriksson, Rajappa S. Kenchappa, Johan Holmberg, Per Kogner and Susanne Schlisio, Genes and Development, online 21 June, 2017/29707

Review on suspected scientific misconduct

Mon, 19/06/2017 - 23:01
The Expert Group on Scientific Misconduct at the Central Ethical Review Board of the Swedish Research Council has handed in its review to KI on the case of suspected scientific misconduct regarding the scientifc article "Autologous Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells as Treatment in Refractory Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome", published in Respiration in 2015. The article was referred to the Central Ethical Review Board last autumn by acting Vice-Chancellor Karin Dahlman-Wright as she made the decision to initiate an investigationi on the case. Following the review the case will be further processed before reaching its final decision by KI's Vice-Chancellor, the date for this is not yet set.  

Volker Lauschke awarded the 2017 Malin and Lennart Philipson prize

Mon, 19/06/2017 - 16:26
In memory of Professor Lennart Philipson, the board of the Malin and Lennart Philipson Foundation awards a prize and grant for molecular biomedical research with the aim to help young, promising scientists to establish an independent research group after their postdoc training. This year’s awardee is KI researcher Dr Volker M. Lauschke. The grant sum is SEK 1 million per year for two years, including a personal prize during the first year of SEK 50,000. Apart from the researcher’s scientific merits, the award also recognises the ability as a leader to establish a strong research group. The prize is awarded in alternate years at Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University respectively. Volker M. Lauschke, Assistant Professor at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, is awarded the the prize 2017 for his work on the development and characterization of physiological hepatic model systems with the goal to study the molecular basis underlying inter-individual differences in drug response. "Volker M. Lauschke has made groundbreaking scientific discoveries and demonstrated independent and outstanding qualities in his line of research," says Professor Li Felländer-Tsai, scientific advisor to the Malin and Lennart Philipson Board. "He indeed deserves this award." “I am deeply grateful to have been granted this award”, comments Dr Lauschke. “During my pre-doctoral studies, I had the pleasure to experience the inclusive, approachable and open-minded spirit that Lennart Philipson managed to evoke at the EMBL in Heidelberg, and which coined so many scientists throughout Europe and worldwide, including myself. I feel honored to receive a prize in Lennart Philipson’s name and will strive to contribute to the dissemination of his scientific leadership philosophy.” This year's prize is to be awarded at Karolinska Institutet's installation ceremony on the 12th of October 2017. Volker M. Lauschke received his Ph.D. from the EMBL and the Combined Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics of the University of Heidelberg in 2013 for his work on tissue patterning using molecular oscillators. In 2014, he moved to Karolinska Institutet as a Marie-Curie fellow to work on the development and characterization of physiological hepatic model systems with the goal to study the molecular basis underlying inter-individual differences in dr ug response. After two years of postdoctoral studies at KI, Dr Lauschke became Assistant Professor at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology in 2017 in the field of Liver Function and Regeneration.

Sten Linnarsson elected to the EMBO

Fri, 16/06/2017 - 14:10
KI researcher Sten Linnarsson has been elected member of the EMBO. He is one of 65 researchers chosen this year to join this science organisation. In total, EMBO brings together more than 1,700 leading researchers within the life sciences. The main purpose of the organisation is to support talented researchers in their career, increase knowledge exchange and improve the scientific climate in Europe. Sten Linnarsson is a professor and principal investigator at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics. He is also affiliated to the national research facility SciLifeLab.  

3D images show how sperm binds to the egg surface

Thu, 15/06/2017 - 18:22
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have obtained the first 3D snapshots of a sperm protein attached to a complementary egg coat protein at the beginning of fertilisation. The study, which reveals a common egg protein architecture that is involved in the interaction with sperm in both mollusc and mammal, is published in the respected scientific journal Cell. By transmitting the genetic information to the next generation and marking the beginning of a new life, the encounter between female and male gametes at fertilisation is one of the most fundamental processes in biology. Although egg and sperm were first observed centuries ago, how sperm recognises the coat of the egg and penetrates it has remained unknown. Using X-ray crystallographic data collected at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), Luca Jovine's research team at Karolinska Institutet first visualised the sperm-interacting regions of two egg coat proteins, ZP2 in mammals (including humans) and VERL in the marine mollusc abalone (a classic model system of invertebrate fertilisation). Both of these molecules contain repeated sequences that play a key role in gamete recognition. “Mammals and molluscs are thought to be separated by 600 million years of evolution, and their sperm receptor proteins are almost completely different in sequence. However, comparison of the structures conclusively demonstrates that ZP2 and VERL repeats share a common 3D architecture”, says Luca Jovine, Professor of Structural Biology at the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition and the Center for Innovative Medicine at Karolinska Institutet. Counterpart protein of VERL Subsequently, the research group determined crystal structures of different VERL repeats bound to lysin, the counterpart protein of VERL on abalone sperm. This gave an unprecedented view of how gametes recognise each other in a species-specific way at the beginning of fertilisation. “Abalone was our system of choice for this investigation, as it is one of the few organisms where cognate egg coat and sperm proteins are known. Moreover, different species of abalone spawn in the open sea but, despite overlapping habitats and breeding seasons, hybrids rarely occur”, says Professor Jovine. The VERL-lysin complex structures also suggest how lysin opens a hole into the egg coat, allowing sperm to penetrate into the egg. Lock and key mechanism  “Gamete recognition was first compared to a lock and key mechanism more than one hundred years ago. Our study provides the first example of how this is achieved at the very beginning of fertilisation”, concludes Luca Jovine. Isha Raj and Hamed Sadat Al Hosseini at Karolinska Institutet's Department of Biosciences and Nutrition are co-first authors of the study, which was performed in collaboration with Alessandra Villa at the same department, and Daniele de Sanctis at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. It was supported by the European Research Council, the Center for Biosciences, the Center for Innovative Medicine, the Swedish Research Council, the Göran Gustafsson Foundation for Research in Natural Sciences and Medicine, the Sven and Ebba-Christina Hagberg foundation, and an EMBO Young Investigator award to Luca Jovine. Top image: Crystal structure of the complex between a domain repeat of egg coat protein VERL (dark pink) and cognate sperm protein lysin (blue). Artwork by Isha Raj and Luca Jovine. Publication Structural Basis of Egg Coat-Sperm Recognition at Fertilization Isha Raj, Hamed Sadat Al Hosseini, Elisa Dioguardi, Kaoru Nishimura, Ling Han, Alessandra Villa, Daniele de Sanctis and Luca Jovine Cell, online 15 June 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.05.033

Karolinska Institutet maintains its position in international reputation ranking

Thu, 15/06/2017 - 15:29
Karolinska Institutet has retained its position in the 51-60 bracket of the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings. The list, ranking the world’s most prestigious universities, is based on an invitation-only survey of academics worldwide. “We are of course delighted that Karolinska Institutet has retained its position on the list. This shows that trust in KI’s educational programmes and research remains high. At the same time, the ranking shows only a small part of the university’s continued progress. Naturally, KI has its own processes by which we are able to further develop our quality,” says Karin Dahlman-Wright, acting Vice-Chancellor of Karolinska Institutet. Topping the rankings are Harvard University, MIT and Stanford University. The list was published on 14 June this year. The data used in the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings is included as one of several components in a larger survey, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, which is generally published during the autumn.

Major education and research consequenses when Karolinska University Hospital receives fewer patients

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 14:14
The medical programme and eight other programmes at Karolinska Institutet will be affected when fewer patients and patient groups are cared for at the new Karolinska University Hospital Solna. This is what has been revealed in Karolinska Institutet's internal impact assessment analyses. Translational research will also be affected.  The new Karolinska University Hospital Solna, will become a highly-specialized hospital, and large patients groups will be transferred instead to other care- and specialist units. This is just one of the changes in provision of healthcare services being implemented by the Stockholm County Council, SLL.  An internal analysis shows how these changes affect Karolinska Institutet’s education and research. The Board of Higher Education, on behalf of the vice-chancellor, has analysed the consequences for education at KI. One of the most significant consequences is that students who undertake so-called “vocational education” (VFU), or courses at Karolinska University Hospital Solna, no longer will achieve certain learning- and examination goals, if no action is taken. The medical programme is the proframme most affected, when, among other things, the new intensive emergency unit will receive fewer patients and with a limited range of diagnoses. ”Medical students need to encounter patients with common and acute conditions, in order to be able to diagnose independently and treat these patient populations, and there must be arenas for interdisciplinary learning in order for students to be able to develop the ability to work in the multidisciplinary environment. In some cases, all students on a specific course will be affected,” says Annika Östman Wernerson, Dean of Higher Education at Karolinska Institutet. The Board of Higher Education suggests several measures. Among other things, the number of diagnoses performed in the hospital should be increased, and the departments of clinical education, KUA, and clinical education clinics, KUM, should remain at Karolinska University Hospital Solna. The number of places within so-called specialist outpatient care, should also increase through the establishment of new academic specialist centres. In the agreement, where new care providers receive a care assignment, a training and research task must also be clearly included. “We must, naturally, adapt to changes in society, but one must also have real respect for the fact that when we make such extensive changes, it takes time – it’s not like moving chess pieces. In the long run, if you have to move large student groups and educational assignments, you also have to move teaching resources and resources for teachers,” says Annika Östman Wernerson. Clinical research is also affected Annika Östman Wernerson also states that since the teachers also undertake research, this also affects clinical research, and the risk is that the mandatory research link in education will be threatened when students are moved to new care units. “Ultimately, if our students do not receive good or sufficient VFU, then there is a risk that our students will not receive the optimum preconditions for training in different skills and approaches, and that the transition from student to active practitioner will be complicated. Consequently, KI And SLL must be helped to achieve this in a satisfactory manner,” says Annika Östman Wernerson. The Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, MMK, is one of the clinical departments at KI that has contributed to the impact assessments. Among other things, MMK runs education at bachelor’s and master’s level for students in medicine and physiotherapy, and has 25 research groups within preclinical and clinical research. “Our research groups generally experience a great deal of uncertainty about what the changed care landscape will actually involve, which activities will be conducted within the new Karolinska University Hospital, and which will be conducted nearby? What will be the dimensions of the emergency ICU, and which potential new care providers will it be important to establish contact with?,” says Anders Franco-Cereceda, Head of Department at MMK. Since emergency care services at the new Karolinska University Hospital constitute a significant research and training basis, the principal investigators at MMK see significant problems in continuing the activities. “There are challenges and we will lose speed and time, but it will also require new ideas and new opportunities which ultimately can lead to improvements. We have to approach our care providers in a spirit of humility and resolve this together,” says Anders Franco-Cereceda. He also states that the key problem is that the physical distance to patients will be greater, which will be difficult during a transitionary period. Mid-June management meeting on next steps “KI’s management has just received the impact assessments and is working on them. It is still too early for us to comment on this,” says Anders Ekbom, acting Pro-Vice-Chancellor at KI. In mid-June, an internal meeting will take place, whereby the management at KI, together with representatives from the Board of Higher Education, the Board of Research and affected heads of department, will discuss the analyses and determine in which way KI will move forward.  Text: Helena Mayer (Not all clinical departments have submitted their reports yet, and these will be published when they are collected.) Programs affected by the operational changes at Karolinska University Hospital Programs that are affected to a greater extent and will not reach the learning and examination goals with the changed operational content – unless special measures are taken Medicine Programmes that are affected to a greater extent and will not reach the learning and examination goals with the changed operational content – unless special measures are taken Audiology Midwifey Biomedicine - Degree and MA Biomedical laboratory science - Focusing on clinical physiology Physiotherapy The Master’s programme in molecular techniques in life sciences Radiography Nursing  Programs where learning and graduate goals can be achieved despite the changing operational content - without taking specific measures Occupational therapy Supplementary education for nurses Speech and language pathology The specialist nursing programme focusing on anaesthetics, intensive care or surgery The specialist nursing programme focusing on children and adolescents The specialist nursing programme focusing on outpatient care, community nursing, psychiatric care and elderly care The specialist nursing programme focusing on medical care, surgical care and oncology, is under review and it is currently difficult to determine the extent to which they will be affected.

Electronic research documentation is to be obligatory at KI

Wed, 14/06/2017 - 13:55
Electronic research documentation is to be obligatory at KI; the decision is expected to be taken by June 2017. Introduction has been slowed by criticism of KI’s central e-logbook, KI ELN, but after hands-on support, more people can see the advantages of the system. From January 2019, it is expected to be obligatory for researchers at KI to document their research electronically. Anders Gustafsson, Dean of Research says that the decision is expected to be taken by the summer, after questions from earlier in the year have been discussed by the Board of Research and in the Heads of Department Group. “Electronic management generates better quality research documentation, better organisation, and is more secure. Moreover, it makes it possible to retrieve documentation, which was problematic in a fraud case investigated at KI. It has been voluntary for many years, but not too many active users have come on board. Now it will be made obligatory as part of the preventive measures introduced after the Macchiarini case”, comments Anders Gustafsson. Subject of discussion for a long time Electronic research logbooks have long been a subject of discussion at KI as one way of increasing searchability, transparency and information security in research documentation. Currently, the University’s researchers have the option of using KI ELN, a central system for electronic documentation of their research. However, in the upcoming decision it is electronic research documentation that is obligatory, not use of KI ELN itself. A different system may be used if a Department demonstrates that it satisfies the centrally-set requirements. KI ELN was launched in 2010 and is currently actively used by just about half of KI’s researchers. Cecilia Martinsson Björkdahl, Project Manager at the University Administration with responsibility for research documentation believes that one explanation for this relatively low percentage is that the system has not been obligatory. “It takes time to start using a new system, and the fact that it is not obligatory means it gets prioritised down.” she says. But there has also been pronounced dissatisfaction with the system, which some people consider to be difficult to use and not suitable for their particular type of research. Cecilia Martinsson Björkdahl believes that in many cases this is because the researcher had problems right at the beginning, and these negative experiences persist. “We still hear opinions on KI ELN based on problems that were resolved many years ago. But those groups that get started without too many problems soon quickly recognise the advantages. Such as better searchability, easier collaboration with geographically dispersed groups and a better overview within the researcher group, not least for the group leader”, she comments. Introduction to be decided Precisely how the this obligation will be introduced has not yet been decided. But Cecilia Martinsson Björkdahl comments that the introduction to KI ELN should preferably start with general information meetings by Institute or Department. It should then be followed up with more specific meetings, preferably at the researcher group level, when the introduction can be adjusted to the researchers’ desires and needs. Most problems can be resolved, she believes. “When we sit down and discuss at group level, the problem generally isn’t that big – perhaps it wasn’t as difficult as one believed; perhaps some data doesn’t have to be entered in ELN, but can be stored in a different secure system. Those who do have big problems with the transition to ELN often do not have good routines, anyway. They then not only have to learn a new system but also change their routines, and that is experienced as annoying and limiting,” explains Cecilia Martinsson Björkdahl.   Text: Sara Nilsson

Pages