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Published: 2019-10-10 10:27 | Updated: 2019-10-19 13:16

Generous harvest of EU funding for KI

Claudia Hanson, researcher at the Department of Public Health Sciences is coordinating one of the new EU projects.

Altogether SEK 170 million. This is this year's allocation from the European Commission under the funding programme for health in Horizon2020. A total of 20 research projects at Karolinska Institutet are being supported, three of them also coordinated from here: a survey of what we are exposed to in the environment; mapping of the brain's different nerve cells; and a project to bring down the mortality rate in childbirth in four African countries.

Carolina Kristell, who works as EU coordinator in the Grants Office at KI, is satisfied.

“This is very well done by all the researchers, who have put a lot of work into their applications. We haven’t seen this level of funding since 2015. Very many apply for these EU funds, so the level of grants is generally low. It's a seal of approval to get so much support for so many projects," she says.

One reason for the success is that this year's calls were a very good match for a series of projects being conducted at KI. For example, a major call was made to start The Human Exposome Project, an initiative to map and measure environmental factors that could affect our health: noise, temperature, humidity, stress, infection and substances we come into contact with, to name only a few examples.

Data from food business receipts

This is a five-year project and during the first fifteen months Joakim Dillner, professor at the Department of Laboratory Medicine, will be the chair. He is also the coordinator of the sub-project that involves contributing an effective IT solution that includes artificial intelligence and can handle the massive amount of information that will be generated.

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Joakim Dillner, credit: Ulf Sirborn.

Three research groups are already ready to contribute data, including a group in Denmark that will compare data from food business receipts, item by item, with the health outcomes of a number of test subjects. The idea is that it will generate a great deal of concrete information about specific products that are harmful to our health. Another research group will investigate biobank samples from blood, cervical screening and saliva to study metagenome, i.e. genetic material from viruses and bacteria in these samples. This will then be compared with later cancer development and in this way the researchers believe that they should be able to identify hitherto unknown infections that can cause cancer.

"I believe that we will detect several new viruses or bacteria that cause cancer, which could be important for the possibility of preventing this type of cancer , in the same way as we can now vaccinate against HPV and prevent cervical cancer," says Joakim Dillner.

Variation among nerve cells

Another project that is coordinated from KI is a mapping of nerve cells in the centre and back of the brain, led by Sten Linnarsson, professor at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics. It is part of the larger project Human Cell Atlas, where the aim is to identify all cells in the body.

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Sten Linnarsson, credit: Ulf Sirborn.

"There are approximately a thousand different types of cells in the brain, with the greatest variation among nerve cells. Most are still unknown," says Sten Linnarsson.

The researchers will investigate brain tissue from healthy deceased persons of different ages and identify specifically the monoaminergic systems, which have to do with the metabolism of, for example, dopamine and serotonin. The cells will be investigated with single cell sequencing, a method that makes it possible to see which genes are active, which reveals the function of the cell. Brain tissue from aborted foetuses will also be investigated. The researchers aim to produce a reference catalogue describing which cells exist in a healthy brain and how this changes through life.

Die shortly after birth

The third project coordinated from KI relates to maternity care in Benin, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda. In these countries, about half a per cent of all pregnancies lead to the death of the woman and three per cent of all newborns are stillborn or die shortly after birth.

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Claudia Hanson, credit: Ulf Sirborn.

"The mortality rate is highest in hospitals, because the most difficult cases end up there and because they are overcrowded, which is because women have been hearing the repeated message that they should go to the medical facilities to give birth. Now we face the problem that hospitals have too few and too poorly trained staff and lack equipment and medical supplies,” says Claudia Hanson, senior lecturer at the Department of Public Health Sciences, who will coordinate this project.

The researchers will conduct a study using so-called co-design, i.e. the researchers start by asking women, their families and healthcare staff about what problems they actually have relating to childbirth and pregnancy. Thereafter, targeted efforts will be implemented, jointly developed by the researchers and study participants.

The idea is to create a holistic view of pregnancies and deliveries, for example by making it self-evident for hospitals to spread knowledge there. One concrete example is the need to talk to maternity care facilities out in the rural areas about the importance of measuring the blood pressure of pregnant women and sending them to hospital early if necessary. The researchers' aim is to bring down the mortality rate of newborns in connection with childbirth by 25 per cent – and in this way also contribute to the fulfilment of the UN's Global Sustainable Development Goals under Agenda 2030.

All new EU projects will start 1 January 2020 at the latest. 

All the new EU projects


Announcement: The Human Exposome Project – a toolbox for assessing and addressing the impact of environment on healt

Granted projects:

  • HEAP, Human Exposome Assessment Platform. KI's part of the project receives SEK 33 million. The project is coordinated by Joakim Dillner, professor at the Department of Laboratory Medicine. Joakim Dillner is also the chair of the project during its initial 15 months. More about this project 
  • Equal-Life, Early Environmental quality and life-course mental health. KI is a partner in the project under the leadership of Jenny Selander, researcher at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, IMM.
  • EXPANSE, EXposome Powered tools for healthy living in urbAN SEttings. KI is a partner in the project under the leadership of Erik Melén, professor at the Department of Clinical Science and Education at KI’s unit at Södersjukhuset.
  • EPHOR, Exposome project for health and occupational research. KI is a partner in the project under the leadership of Maria Albin, professor at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, IMM.


Announcement: Pilot actions to build the foundations of a human cell atlas

Granted projects: BRAINTIME, Molecular atlas of the brain across the human lifespan. KI's part of the project receives SEK 12.8 million. The project is coordinated by Sten Linnarsson, professor at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, MBB. Read more about this 


Announcement: Implementation research for maternal and child health

Granted projects:

  • ALERT, Action Leveraging Evidence to Reduce perinatal morTality and morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa. KI's part of the project receives SEK 9.8 million. The project is coordinated by Claudia Hanson, senior lecturer at the Department of Public Health Sciences.
  • QUALI-DEC, Appropriate use of Caesarean section through QUALIty DECision-making by women and providers. KI is a partner in the project under the leadership of Claudia Hanson, senior lecturer at the Department of Public Health Sciences.


Announcement: Big data and Artificial Intelligence for monitoring health status and quality of life after the cancer treatment

Granted projects: LifeChamps, A Collective Intelligence Platform to Support Cancer Champions. KI is a partner in the project under the leadership of Fernando Seoane Martinez, senior lecturer at the Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology, CLINTEC. 


Announcement: Mental Health in the workplace

Granted projects:

  • Magnet4Europe: Improving Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Health Care Workplace. KI is a partner in the project under the leadership of Lars Eriksson, senior lecturer at LIME, Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics.
  • H-WORK, Multilevel interventions to promote mental health in SME:s and public workplaces. KI is a partner in the project under the leadership of Emmanuel Aboagye, researcher at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, IMM.


Announcement: Regenerative medicine: from new insights to new applications

Granted projects: NSC-Reconstruct, Novel Strategies for Cell-based Neural Reconstruction. KI is a partner in the project under the leadership of Ernest Arenas, professor at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, MBB.


Announcement: Stratified host-directed approaches to improve prevention, treatment and/or cure of infectious diseases

Granted projects:

  • IP-cure-B, Immune profiling to guide host-directed interventions to cure HBV infections. KI is a partner in the project under the leadership of Peter Liljeström, senior professor at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology.
  • MISTRAL, Microbiome-based stratification of individuals at risk of HIV-1 acquisition, chronic clinical complications,antimicrobial drug resistance,and unresponsiveness to therapeutic HIV-1 vaccination. KI is a partner in the project under the leadership of Kristina Broliden, professor at the Department of Medicine.


Announcement: Systems approaches for the discovery of combinatorial therapies for complex disorders

Granted projects:

  • UNITI, Unification of treatments and Interventions for Tinnitus patients. KI is a partner in the project under the leadership of Christopher Cederroth, researcher at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, FyFA.
  • RESCUER, Resistance under combinatorial treatment in ER+ and ER- breast cancer. KI is a partner in the project under the leadership of Janne Lehtiö, professor at the Department of Oncology-Pathology.


Announcement: Towards risk-based screening strategies for non-communicable diseases

Granted projects: 

  • RISCC, Risk-based screening for cervical cancer. KI is a partner in the project under the leadership of Joakim Dillner, professor at the Department of Laboratory Medicine.
  • AFFECT-EU, Digital, risk-based screening for atrial fibrillation in the European Community; KI’s part is led by Johan Engdahl, senior lecturer at the Department of Clinical Sciences at Danderyd Hospital. 
     

Announcement: Understanding causative mechanisms in co- and multimorbidities combining mental and non-mental disorders

Granted projects:

  • CoMorMent, Predicting comorbid cardiovascular disease in individuals with mental disorder by decoding disease mechanisms. KI is a partner in the project under the leadership of Patrick Sullivan, professor at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
  • CANDY, Comorbid Analysis of Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Epilepsy. KI is a partner in the project under the leadership of Terje Falck-Ytter, senior researcher at the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health.
  • AND-PD, Comorbidity mechanisms of anxiety and Parkinson’s disease. KI is a partner in the project under the leadership of Gilberto Fisone, professor at the Department of Neuroscience.