Published: 14-05-2014 09:18 | Updated: 14-05-2014 09:36

Karolinska Institutet receives half a billion SEK for recruitment of international top scientists

The Swedish Research Council has decided to grant a total of 522 million SEK over ten years for international recruitment of leading researchers to Karolinska Institutet. The funds are aimed at establishment of four research centers of international top class.

Karolinska Institutet is receiving funds for the recruitment of Patrick Sullivan, Professor in psychiatric genetics, Cynthia Bulik, professor in eating disorders, cancer researcher Professor Sir David Lane and haematologist Sten Eirik W. Jacobsen, professor of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.

“The grants from the Swedish Research Council makes it possible for us to engage a dream team of scientists with our university”, says Anders Hamsten, Vice-Chancellor of Karolinska Institutet. “Our commitment is to further enhance Karolinska Institutet’s research. The present opportunity will strengthen not only KI but also Sweden as a country within the area of life science.”

Professor Patrick Sullivan is one of the foremost psychiatric geneticists in the world. He is today Director of the Center for Psychiatric Genomics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA, and since 2005 Foreign Adjunct Professor at Karolinska Institutet. In August 2013, he and fellow researchers from Karolinska Institutet published a study which identified 13 new genetic variants that increase the risk for schizophrenia. In previous research, Sullivan and colleagues from Karolinska Institutet have shown that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have the same genetic causes.

Under his management Karolinska Institutet plans to establish the Karolinska Institutet Psychiatric Genomics Institute (KI-PGI). One of the main tasks is to understand the underlying causes for schizophrenia and to find treatment that makes it possible for patients to lead a normal life.

The Swedish Research Council has granted funding for Patrick Sullivan and his research group at Karolinska Institutet at a level of almost SEK 15 million per year over ten years.

“Sweden has unique opportunities for doing epidemiological and genetic epidemiological studies, primarily because of the system we have with unique personal identification numbers, health registries, biobanks and a population which is positive to research” says Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren, Dean of Research at Karolinska Institutet. “By bringing Professor Sullivan’s research to KI we have a very good chance of making our university one of the premier institutions worldwide in this area.”

Professor Sir David Lane is one of the most prominent researchers in the cancer field today. David Lane is widely known for discovering the tumor suppressor p53, elucidating the functions and regulation of this protein. Thanks to his contributions, researchers all over the world have been able to understand the process of cell division and the growth of cancer cells.

Professor Lane has held some of the most important posts in research management in the UK as well as in Singapore, where he is employed as Chief Scientist of A-Star. His plan for the future is to combine his policymaking activity as Scientific Director of the international Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research with running a laboratory in Europe. His recruitment to Karolinska Institutet offers him an excellent environment to develop innovative technologies and to carry out his groundbreaking projects on cancer biology, biochemistry, therapeutic antibodies and drug discovery.

“David Lane’s presence at KI will bring unique opportunities for Swedish academic and private sector researchers to interact with world-leading laboratories and biotech companies.” says Dean of Research Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren. “Scientists of Lane’s caliber are essential for Sweden to become a frontrunner in this extremely exciting decade for biomedical research.”

The Swedish Research Council has granted SEK 14 million per year over ten years for Sir David Lane and his research group to relocate to Karolinska Institutet.

Professor Cynthia Bulik is a translational researcher and a world leader in the study of eating disorders. Once believed to be caused only by sociocultural factors, her work has transformed the field by demonstrating that genetic factors play a substantial role in liability.

In 2003, Professor Bulik was named the first endowed professor of eating disorders in the United States by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since 2007, Professor Bulik has been the catalyst in uniting eating disorder researchers from 20 countries (including Sweden) to form the Genetics Consortium for Anorexia Nervosa and to conduct genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of anorexia nervosa.

“Cynthia Bulik is one of the best researchers in the world focusing on eating disorders”, says Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren. “The goal of this recruitment is to establish a World Center for Innovation in Eating Disorders Research at Karolinska Institutet and to make our university the epicenter of next generation research on eating disorders.”

The Swedish Research Council has granted funding for Cynthia Bulik and her research group at a level of SEK 10,5 to 15 million per year over ten years.

Sten Eirik W. Jacobsen has a long-standing outstanding track-record of scientific excellence in the fields of haematopoiesis and normal and cancer stem cell biology, successful training and career development of young scientists, and establishment and leadership of translational research environments in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.

He currently holds a position as professor and chair of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Oxford. Professor Jacobsen is since 2010 a guest professor in Regenerative Medicine at Karolinska Institutet.

“We want to establish an internationally competitive research program on normal and leukemic haematopoiesis and stem cell biology associated to the new Center for Haematology and Regenerative Medicine (HERM)”, says Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren. “This recruitment will provide leadership to advance basic and translational haematopoietic research at HERM, and synergies for stem cell research across the KI campus, and in Sweden.”

The Swedish Research Council has granted funding for Sten Eirik W. Jacobsen and his research group amounting to SEK 8 to 10 million per year over ten years.