Published: 2019-03-05 17:58 | Updated: 2019-05-16 11:38

Björn Högberg receives Göran Gustafsson Prize in Chemistry

Björn Högberg is one of the laureates of the Göran Gustafsson Prize. He receives the prize in chemistry, which consists of SEK 5.1 million in research grants and a personal prize of SEK 250,000.

Björn HögbergBjörn Högberg, professor at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, receives the The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ Göran Gustafsson Prize in chemistry "for the development of new methods and applications in DNA origami".

“It feels great to get this prize. It means a lot to me because it feels like a receipt that what you do is something that can be important. We will mainly use the research prize to test a new idea that I think may be difficult to get regular funding for”, says Björn Högberg.

DNA origami is about creating small structures similar to those found inside the body for being able to study them. First, a model is built in the computer, which is then manufactured in real-life by long DNA molecules that are forced to fold in certain forms. This resembles how a paper is folded in the Japanese art origami.

Results can potentially be useful in vaccine design

With the help of DNA origami, Björn Högberg, has for example studied antibodies and antigens. When antigens (body contaminants) enter the body, antibodies in the immune system can react by binding to them. The research group has managed to find out exactly which distance is the best for the binding between antigens and antibodies to be as strong as possible.

- It's about 16 nanometers! This is completely new knowledge that can potentially be useful in vaccine design, says Björn Högberg.

Göran Gustafsson Prize

The Göran Gustafsson Prize has existed since 1991 and behind the award is The Göran Gustafsson Foundation for Research in Natural Sciences and Medicine. The foundation currently manages a capital of approximately SEK 1.7 billion. It was founded in 1989 after a donation by entrepreneur and businessman Göran Gustafsson (1919–2003). Göran Gustafsson came from a small village outside Gällivare and made himself a fortune mainly through property deals. He was, in many ways, a pioneer who was fond of nature, worried about environmental degradation and wanted to return to society.