Published: 02-10-2018 09:29 | Updated: 22-05-2019 16:51

More than SEK 100 million to KI researchers from KAW Foundation

The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW) has awarded a total of SEK 104.2 million to four research projects led from Karolinska Institutet. In all, the Foundation is granting SEK 640 million this year to 22 research projects at Swedish universities.

The KAW Foundation is financing research projects in the fields of medicine, science and technology that are considered to offer potential for future scientific breakthroughs. KAW is the largest private research funder in Sweden.

“These grants have been awarded to promising and exciting projects at the forefront of international research, comments KAW chairperson Peter Wallenberg Jr in a press release. “The Foundation supports long-term basic research that benefits Sweden, and gives researchers complete freedom to formulate and test their hypotheses. Funding applications are evaluated by the foremost international researchers in each field,”

Some other examples of project goals are: better cancer therapies, new knowledge about carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, how our seas may be impacted by future environmental changes, increasing fiber-optic capacity, and clues about how the brain can repair itself.

Unveil the dynamics of cell turnover in heart and brain

Jonas Frisén. Foto Gustav MårtenssonProject: Cell turnover in human health and disease

Grant: SEK 40,600,000 over five years

Principal investigator: Professor Jonas Frisén, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institutet.

Partners: Henrik Druid, Karolinska Institutet, Joakim Lundberg, KTH, and Göran Possnert, Uppsala University.

Short summary: By combining a retrospective birth-dating by analysis of 14C, derived from nuclear bomb tests, with phylogeny by single-cell DNA sequencing, the researchers aim to unveil the dynamics of cell turnover, the origin of new cells and how turnover and cell lineages are altered in pathology in humans. This fundamental knowledge is needed to understand human tissue homeostasis and pathology, and to devise regenerative strategies.

Destructive interaction on the way to type 2 diabetes

Professor Juleen ZierathProject: Tissue-crosstalk and metabolic regulation of type 2 diabetes

Grant: SEK 18,000,000 over three years, with the possibility of a two year extension.

Principal investigator: Professor Juleen Zierath, Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, Karolinska Institutet.

Partners: Per-Olof Berggren, Carsten Daub, Anna Krook, Erik Näslund och Mikael Rydén, all at Karolinska Institutet, and Thomas Moritz, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Short summary: Metabolism in adipose tissue, liver and skeletal muscle plays a major role in the onset of type 2 diabetes, and low-grade chronic inflammation is common in people who develop the disease. So, how do these organs interact with each other in an inflammatory environment, and how are the insulin-producing beta cells affected? This is what the researchers in the current project will investigate and try to explain. The researchers aim to show which proteins and metabolites that are secreted from adipose tissue, liver and skeletal muscle in inflammation, how these substances affect the interaction between these organs – and how this in turn affects the insulin-producing beta cells.

Walk or run – how do muscles get their commands about speed?

Project: Decoding the logic of the neural circuits for motor actions

Grant: SEK 16,200,000 over five years

Principal investigator: Professor Abdel El Manira, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet.

Short summary: Whether moving slowly to approach a prey or quickly to escape from a predator, it is vital that our muscles move with the right timing and at the appropriate speed – but how is this achieved within neural circuits in our brain? This will be investigated in this project using both optogenetics and advanced electrophysiological approaches to map the dynamic connectivity scheme of circuits for motor actions in zebrafish. The project is expected to provide novel insights into the rules governing the organization and function of the neural circuits controlling our movements.

Capturing the riddle of conception on picture

Project: Integrative structural biology of mammalian fertilization: Unveiling the beginning of life from gametes to atoms

Grant: SEK 29,400,000 over five years

Principal investigator: Professor Luca Jovine, Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet

Partners: Alexey Amunts, Stockholm University, and Linda Sandblad, Umeå University, both also at SciLifeLab.

Short summary: The goal of the project is to visualize in three dimensions how egg and sperm interact with each other and eventually fuse at the molecular level. The researchers will study different stages of mammalian fertilization and, by combining X-ray crystallography with single-particle cryo-electron microscopy as well as focused ion beam milling coupled to cryo-electron tomography, obtain information at different levels of organization – from single molecules to sections of whole gametes frozen in in near-native conditions.