Published: 07-03-2023 08:05 | Updated: 07-03-2023 08:27

Rickard Sandberg awarded the Torsten Söderberg Academy Professorship in Medicine

Rickard Sandberg. Photo: Ulf Sirborn

KI Professor Rickard Sandberg has been awarded the Torsten Söderberg Academy Professorship in Medicine by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, a donation of 10 million Swedish kronor for a five-year period. Rickard Sandberg has developed methods that make it possible to deeply penetrate the human genome by studying genes in individual cells.

“It is an amazing honour, partly because the recipient is selected by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences,” he says in a press release from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. “The professorship allows us to invest in more systematic and substantial projects, and we can explore innovative projects that take more time.”

Rickard Sandberg is professor of molecular genetics at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Karolinska Institutet, where he leads a research group that focuses on the processes that regulate the human genome. This is done at a level of detail that was impossible just a few years ago.

“We used to have to look at many cells clumped together, but these methods, developed by us and others, mean that we can start to study the level of expression of genes in individual cells,” he says. “We can use this to learn more about what actually happens when genes are activated.”

High-level basic research

In total, there are 20,000 protein-coded genes in our DNA. Rickard Sandberg and his colleagues hope to answer how many different patterns there are for turning these genes on and off, and how often this happens. They are now planning to investigate a large number of cell types in humans and mice, mapping their gene activation process for the very first time.

This is basic research at a very high level, but the results may also be of practical benefit. Another line of their research is to see what happens in the cells and to their genes when, for example, a certain drug is taken – knowledge that could one day be used by pharmaceutical companies in the development of new medicines.

About the Torsten Söderberg Academy Professorship in Medicine

The Torsten Söderberg Foundation aims to benefit scientific research, primarily in the fields of medicine, economics and law. The Torsten Söderberg Academy professorship in medicine promotes internationally leading research in the field of medicine by allowing the holders to dedicate themselves to full-time research at a Swedish medical faculty for five years. The Torsten Söderberg Foundation donates ten million Swedish kronor to each professorship. The professorships are reviewed and decided by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences following a peer review process.