Published: 13-05-2013 00:00 | Updated: 07-02-2016 14:56

First target achieved by the Mats Sundin Fellowship

Seven million kronor has been raised, which means that the first target set by the Mats Sundin Fellowship, a developmental health partnership between Karolinska Institutet and the University of Toronto, has been achieved.

"It's fantastic," says hockey star Mats Sundin, who launched the project in 2012 with a donation of two million kronor. The resources are now there to fund four doctoral students for two years each.

Since last spring, KI and the University of Toronto have together matched Sundins donation to fund the fellowship, which has received an additional four million kronor from private individuals, companies and organisations in support of its research.

"The first year is possibly the easiest," says Mr Sundin. "What I hope is that the fellowship will take on a life of its own so that it can sustain itself and help researchers find cures for the many common diseases that we live with today. My role is to arrange functions and create networks of individuals and companies wanting to support the venture."

A dinner was held on 8 May at the Canadian embassy in Stockholm to generate interest in the partnership, and was attended by Mr Sundin along with KI president Professor Anders Hamsten, dean of research Professor Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren, and Catharine Whiteside, dean of the University of Toronto's faculty of medicine. Some 60 bank and company representatives and sports personalities were also present.

Lectures on the research field, and on how the environment during the first 2,000 days of life affects the risk of diseases such as diabetes, cancer and obesity, were also on the menu.

The first two Mats Sundin fellows will begin their work at KI and the University of Toronto this autumn. The application deadline is 10 June.

"There's a lot of interest being shown," says Dr Ola Hermanson, academic coordinator for KI's dealings with Canada. "If the doctoral students who have contacted us with questions about the position also apply, we'll have some excellent candidates."

Applicants for a Mats Sundin fellowship must have earned their PhD no more than seven years before the application date.