Lund researcher awarded for groundbreaking hematopoietic stem cell discoveries

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Tobias Prize 2016, amounting to SEK 10.1 million, to David Bryder of Lund University “for his groundbreaking research into blood cell creation, factors that regulate the maturation of hematopoietic stem cells, and hematopoietic stem cell ageing, all of which of great importance to the successful transplantation of stem cells”.

Every day, hematopoietic stem cells provide the body with billions of blood cells. If the production is upset, for instance by leukaemia (cancer among the white blood cells located in the bone marrow), it may be necessary to replace the patient’s bone marrow with new, healthy blood producing cells donated by another person. This is achieved by means of stem cell transplantation.

“David Bryder’s basic research is judged to be of great importance for the understanding of how individual stem cells are maintained and develop, and will likely contribute to improving the methods for stem cell transplantation” says Klas Kärre, expert and member of the prize committee.

Bryder’s innovative research programme is based on a new way of barcoding cells in order to trace development paths for blood cell creation.

Bryder has contributed to mapping hematopoietic stem cell maturation and regulatory factors in the creation of various cells. Furthermore, being an international leader in this field, he has mapped properties of hematopoietic stem cells that change during the ageing process. One aim of his research is to find out whether it is possible to reset the change in the stem cells as they age. With colleagues he has previously demonstrated that mutations in the stem cells’ mitochondrial DNA are not the primary drivers of stem cell ageing. Bryder’s research shows that an intact mitochondrial function is essential for stem cells to be able to produce all blood cell types. His research provides an important guide as to how stem cells can maintain their function during a life-time. It is hoped that it will spur further study, enabling scientists to carry out direct examinations of the relation between a mutated mitochondrial function and states of disease, such as anaemia and blood cancer.

The Tobias Prize is one of Sweden’s largest individual research prizes; it is awarded in memory of Tobias who passed away due to a severe blood disease at the young age of 17.

The Laureate

David Bryder is Director of research and Assistant Professor at the Division of Molecular Hematology, Lund University. He received his PhD at Lund University in 2003 and subsequently assumed a postdoctoral position at Standford University, USA.

Prize amount

SEK 10.1 million, divided into a yearly research grant of SEK 2 million for five years, as well as a personal prize of SEK 100,000.

The Tobias Prize will be awarded on 9 November 2016 in relation with an open lecture after the general meeting of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

The Tobias Foundation

The Tobias Prize is awarded by the Tobias Foundation, which was founded in 1991 with a purpose to support research into bone marrow transplantations and diseases that can be treated by such transplantations. To date, over SEK 100 million has been awarded to different research projects.

Tobias, from whom the foundation takes its name, passed away in 1991 at the age of 17 due to a severe blood disease. Despite a four-year long search for bone marrow donors, no matching donor was found. The family then launched the Swedish registry for hematopoietic stem cells, the Tobias Registry, which currently includes 67, 211 registered donors. Today the registry is maintained by Stockholm County Council, and the foundation focuses entirely on supporting and promoting research about stem cell transplantations.

The Foundation’s website

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, founded in 1739, is an independent organisation whose overall objective is to promote the sciences and strengthen their influence in society. The Academy takes special responsibility for the natural sciences and mathematics, but endeavours to promote the exchange of ideas between various disciplines.


Laureate: David Bryder, Assistant Professor, Division of Molecular Hematology, +46 46 222 39 51, +46 70 642 39 51,

Expert: Klas Kärre, Prof. of Molecular Immunology, Karolinska Institutet, +46 8 524 862 82,

Press Officer: Jessica Balksjö Nannini, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, +46 8 673 95 44, +46 70 673 96 50,