75 million for healthcare research – five new Wallenberg Clinical Scholars

Why do some people become addicted to alcohol and how can we enable extremely premature babies to develop in the same way as others? These are two of the questions that this year’s Wallenberg Clinical Scholars have been awarded funding to investigate.

Markus Heilig, Linköpings universitet, Ann Hellström, Göteborgs universitet, Stefan James, Uppsala universitet, Kristian Riesbeck, Lunds universitet och Olle Kämpe, Karolinska Institutet har utsetts till Wallenberg Clinical Scholars 2019. Foto: Mikael Sjöberg

“Clinical research is an important link between basic research and patient-based clinical activities at our hospitals. The aim of this program is to provide a long-term boost to Swedish clinical research, which has always been of a high standard, but had started to lose ground in the years prior to the launch of the program. It is therefore extremely gratifying that, over the last few years, we have been able to award funding to twenty leading research physicians,” says Peter Wallenberg Jr, chairman of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

The five Wallenberg Clinical Scholars each receive research funding worth SEK 15 million over a five-year period, with the potential to extend this for a further five years. The program is run by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation in partnership with the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

“Sweden has excellent conditions for clinical research, and many important contributions have been made by researchers in this country. Unfortunately, the recent changes to the organisation of healthcare have had a negative effect on the working situation for clinical researchers, and thus Sweden’s position in this important field. Wallenberg Clinical Scholars provides some of the very best clinical researchers with the opportunity to conduct research that is directly linked to healthcare. This is of great importance, not only for medical research, but also for medical services and public health,” says the general secretary of the Academy of Sciences, Göran K. Hansson.

Wallenberg Clinical Scholars 2019

Markus Heilig, professor at the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at Linköping University, is trying to discover why some people, but not all, develop an addiction to alcohol. His findings include discovering that rats who prefer alcohol to a sugar solution have problems regulating the level of a specific neurotransmitter.

Ann Hellström, chief physician and professor at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, University of Gothenburg, is mapping what is necessary for the organs of premature babies to grow normally. Her long-term aim is that babies who are born extremely prematurely will develop in the same way as those who remain in the womb.

Stefan James, chief physician and professor at the Department of Medical Sciences at Uppsala University, is working to develop a system in which data from examinations and treatments in cardiovascular healthcare are managed in a more structured manner. The idea is to see how care can be improved by helping doctors tailor treatments, among other things.

Kristian Riesbeck, chief physician and professor at the Department of Translational Medicine at Lund University, is working on producing vaccines against two bacteria that cause ear infections. There is a huge need to develop new vaccines to reduce the use of antibiotics and thus stop the increase in antibiotic resistance.

Olle Kämpe, chief physician and professor at the Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, is studying why the immune system attacks and destroys specific tissues in the body in patients with autoimmune diseases. This includes investigating why it reacts to some tissues but not to others.

FACTS about the program

During the program period, twenty-five grants will be awarded to Sweden’s foremost clinical researchers. This amounts to SEK 600 million, with each researcher receiving SEK 15 million for a five-year period, with the potential for a five-year extension. Universities with medical faculties are invited to nominate researchers for these research grants. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is responsible for the scientific evaluation.

Wallenberg Clinical Scholars is part of the SEK 2.5 billion that the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation is investing to boost medical research and the life sciences over a ten-year period.

Read more about Wallenberg Clinical Scholars:

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Peter Wallenberg Jr, Chairman, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
Tel:+46 (0)8 545 017 80
E-mail: kaw@kaw.se

Göran K. Hansson, Secretary General, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Tel:+46 (0)8 673 9500
E-mail: goran.hansson@kva.se

Göran Sandberg, Executive Director, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
Tel:+46 (0)8 545 017 80
E-mail: kaw@kaw.se

Press contact
Eva Nevelius, Press Secretary, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Tel:+46 (0)70 878 67 63
E-mail: eva.nevelius@kva.se