08 February 2023

A new strategic research initiative between the Wallenberg Centre for Molecular Medicine (WCMM) and Region Östergötland will begin this year. The multi-million investment will focus on clinical research, with six associated clinical WCMM fellows starting the programme in 2023.

Group image of five people in front a curtain.
The promising researchers from the region's clinics who are now associated clinical fellows at WCMM LiU. From left: Fredrik Iredahl, David Kylhammar, Hanna Israelsson Larsen, Ida Blystad and Patrik Nasr. Missing in the picture is Daniel Wilhems. John Karlsson

Investment with the region

The six associated clinical WCMM fellows selected are promising researchers in an early career phase who conduct clinical research and have a connection to Region Östergötland.

“The investment is being made to strengthen clinical research within molecular medicine and the interface between medicine and technology. We have chosen to invest in researchers relatively early in their career as we see this as strategic,” says David Engblom, Director of WCMM-LiU.

The steering group at WCMM-LiU has selected from a number of candidates presented by clinical managers in Region Östergötland.

The research package

Each candidate will receive a two-year association of SEK 500,000 per year with the possibility of an additional extension of two years. That is to say, one plus one million kronor. The availability period for the first two years of funds (one million) ends in 2025. If a further two years (one million) are granted, the period will be extended to 2027.

Person talking in the foreground in front of two other people.David Engblom (on the right) is chairman of WCMM-LiU. To his left are Fredrik Iredahl and Ida Blystad, associated clinical WCMM fellows. Photo credit John Karlsson At least 30% of their time is to be spent on research, which will hopefully enable them to make progress.

“The result I hope for is that the researchers involved in the initiative will have better opportunities to research and have a network locally and nationally that enriches their research. We hope that they will become influential research leaders who make exciting discoveries and can strengthen both Region Östergötland and Linköping University for a long time to come,” says David Engblom.

Promising researchers

The six researchers selected as associate clinical fellows are Ida Blystad, Fredrik Iredahl, Hanna Israelsson Larsen, David Kylhammar, Patrik Nasr and Daniel Wilhelms.
David Kylhammar, resident physician at the Physiological Clinic, is grateful for the opportunity and looks forward to being part of WCMM.

“It feels great to be selected as one of WCMM's associated clinical fellows, and I hope that in addition to the financial contribution, which of course will be of great benefit, as a member of the WCMM network I’ll also get the opportunity to meet and get to know new colleagues both in Linköping and around the country. This can be both inspiring and perhaps lead to fruitful research collaborations.”

Read more about each fellow below.

Get to know each fellow

Click to expand content

Ida Blystad

Woman points to a screen showing a movie of a brain.Ida Blystad is seen here at CMIV at the University Hospital in Linköping. Photo credit John Karlsson What does your research involve?
I am a neuroradiologist and researcher at CMIV (Center for Medical Image Science and Visualization), with a clinical position at the University Hospital X-ray Clinic. My research is focused on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain. Radiologists base clinical diagnosis mainly on morphological images for the assessment of various conditions. In our research group we work with advanced, often quantitative, MRI sequences to increase knowledge of the brain in different types of diseases, with the aim of being able to take diagnostics further and make it more precise. My research areas span various clinical conditions, from diagnosis and follow-up of brain tumours in children and adults to patients with fatigue due to post-Covid syndrome, as well as the technological development of MR sequences and AI use in MRI analysis.

Why are you one of those chosen from Region Östergötland?
I think I’ve been selected as a clinical fellow because radiology as a subject, and therefore my research projects, is at the interface between medicine and technology. In my research projects, I work with researchers from the Faculty of Science and Engineering, but also with MRI physicists, paediatricians, neurosurgeons, pathologists, rehabilitation physicians, cell biologists and researchers from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. This means that the projects are patient-centred with a clinical base, and that at the same time we have the opportunity to take a multidisciplinary approach with collaboration between many different disciplines within both the hospital and the university.

How do you think your association with WCMM can benefit your research?
WCMM has already broadened my network, given me new research contacts and plans for new collaborations and research projects. I hope to be able to contribute to bridging the gap between clinic/medicine and pre-clinical/technology in the network. For the future, it’s a great benefit to have access to the research infrastructure that WCMM represents and the national WCMM collaboration. The funding itself also enables me to take on new research projects going forward, which I’m very pleased about.

Fredrik Iredahl

Person presenting during a meeting.Fredrik Iredahl. Photo credit John Karlsson What is your research about?
My research focuses on complications associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes. This is in the form of studies where the incidence and treatment of sleep apnea syndrome, fatty liver disease and coronary artery disease in primary care are examined. I also focus on the smallest vessels in the skin and how local blood flow can reflect the function of local tissue as well as of the body as a whole.

Why are you one of those chosen from Region Östergötland?
I conduct ongoing clinical research with strong links to medical technology. The fact that I’m both involved in development projects in an early phase and apply new medical technology from the perspective of a healthcare centre provides an overall picture that is a strength in development work. Primary health care, where I work clinically at the Åby Health Care Centre, also presents significant challenges within the framework of meeting current and future health care needs.

How does your research profile fit in with WCMM, at the interface between medicine and technology?
In the research groups where I’m involved, there are regular and natural collaborations between engineers and clinicians from the health care system. At the interface between medicine and technology, clinical challenges can be highlighted and innovative solutions applied. This development work requires collaboration interfaces where different competences can meet. I like these groupings, which quickly become productive, and am therefore very grateful to WCMM for its investment.

How do you think your association with WCMM can benefit your research?
The WCMM network has prominent researchers at the interface between medicine and technology. By sharing ideas and thoughts within this constellation, there is an opportunity for new perspectives to be highlighted. I hope to be able to contribute a clinical general medical perspective to these discussions. I look forward to the coming years together with WCMM.

Hanna Israelsson Larsen

Woman sits in front of two computer screens and works.Hanna Israelsson Larsen. Photo credit John Karlsson What does your research involve?
My primary research area and interest is diagnosis, care and treatment of patients with varying forms of mental illness in primary care, and the link between biomarkers and mental symptoms/illnesses. I’m interested in the biological stress of mental illness, and its physiological effect on the body. I can also see that this is well in line with the basic principle of general medicine: treating the whole person and the relationships at several levels between body and mind. I’m conducting three major studies in the South-East Healthcare Region, which concern: 1) the differences between depression and fatigue and healthy controls of biomarkers for stress, inflammation and cellular aging, cognition, fMRI and symptomatology (PrimeCog study); 2) the impact of integrated behavioural health on the care of patients with mental ill health in primary care (IBH study); and; 3) the effect of rehabilitation coordination on patients who are on sick leave due to mental illness and pain (STARS study).

Why do you think you are one of those chosen from Region Östergötland?
Patients with mental ill health are one of our largest patient groups in primary care. My research area, therefore, concerns a very large patient group and focuses on the primary care perspective with close care in combination with molecular and cellular mechanisms, in various forms of mental ill health. This is a necessary and important perspective but is relatively unresearched in primary care. In my projects I combine the holistic approach, where I both go into depth and strive for clinical benefit and useful research results. I hope and believe that I can contribute good quality research to Linköping University, and I also want to create new networks within WCMM around my research area.

How does your research profile fit in with WCMM, at the interface between medicine and technology?
I believe that we need to start using more technical and digital solutions in primary care than we do today, and one of my new research projects focuses on the applicability of digital testing of cognition in depression and fatigue. In addition, in several of my projects, I investigate the link between symptomatology and/or biomarkers and/or fMRI. My research is transdisciplinary, where participating researchers come from several different professions, from preclinical to clinical level, from biomedical scientists to doctors, psychologists and behavioural scientists. It also involves incorporating several different test methods and research designs into the projects.

How do you think your association with WCMM can benefit your research?
I look forward to continuing to expand my research into technology and biomarkers with WCMM, and also look forward to creating interfaces for interaction and collaboration with other WCMM researchers both regionally and nationally. The association with WCMM has in fact already involved new interesting research collaborations. Of course, the increased funding also provides greater opportunities to expand my projects.

David Kylhammar

Person stands in front of the projector screen and presents.David Kylhammar. Photo credit John Karlsson What does your research involve?
I want to better understand which individuals will be affected by cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure, heart attack and sudden cardiac death. A large part of my research time is therefore devoted to the national study SCAPIS (Swedish CArdioPulmonary bioImage study). SCAPIS involves some 30,000 people aged between 50 and 64 randomly selected from the population, who underwent a large number of examinations, including a CT scan of the heart and its coronary arteries and the lungs and abdomen, a lung function test, a carotid ultrasound, an ECG and blood pressure measurements. They also had to answer a battery of questions and gave blood samples for analysis. The approximately 5,000 study participants in Linköping also underwent a cardiac ultrasound scan and I, together with Professor Jan Engvall, lead the SCAPIS cardiac ultrasound study. In addition to my commitment to SCAPIS, I am also interested in pulmonary arterial hypertension, a rare but very serious pulmonary artery disease, and I am also involved in projects relating to the evaluation of diastolic cardiac function and cardiovascular involvement in the chronic rheumatic disease systemic lupus erythematosus.

Why do you think are you one of those chosen from Region Östergötland?
The WCMM initiative on associated clinical fellows wanted junior researchers at the interface between medicine and technology, and that is exactly the area where I am involved. At the Physiological Clinic, where I am a clinical physician, we use functional and imaging methods to diagnose functional disorders, especially in the heart, blood vessels and lungs. I bring my technical and methodological skills, as well as my physiological and medical knowledge, to research.

How do you think your association with WCMM can benefit your research?
It feels great to be selected as one of WCMM's associated clinical fellows, and I hope that in addition to the financial contribution, which of course will be of great benefit, as a member of the WCMM network I’ll also get the opportunity to meet and get to know new colleagues both in Linköping and around the country. This can be both inspiring and perhaps lead to fruitful research collaborations.

Patrik Nasr

A man presents during a meeting.Patrik Nasr. Photo credit John Karlsson What is your research about?
My main focus has been to try to understand why certain individuals with fatty deposits in the liver develop severe liver damage. The research network I belong to has, over a period of more than twenty years, carried out several prospective follow-up studies of patients with suspected or confirmed chronic liver disease. Understandably, research has focused mainly on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is the most common chronic liver disease in the world with an incidence of about 25-30%. It is considered to be the liver's expression of the metabolic syndrome, which includes obesity and type 2 diabetes. In recent years, and especially after my 2019 thesis defence, we have expanded our local, national and international network and developed our field of research. A large part of my research time is now dedicated to muscular atrophy and body constitution in chronic liver diseases, as well as to non-invasive diagnostics and prognosis of them. Since it is difficult to determine which individuals with chronic liver disease progress to severe liver disease, we hope to identify those individuals with the greatest risk of deterioration over time through non-invasive biomarkers.

Why are you one of the chosen candidates from Region Östergötland?
The Region Östergötland and Linköping University WCCM initiative wanted clinically active junior researchers involved at the interface between medicine and technology. At the liver section of the Gastrointestinal Clinic, we have had good collaboration with CMIV and AMRA Medical AB for many years. Together, we design, validate and apply new technologies in our everyday clinical lives. The strength of the research group is not only the experience that all participants contribute, but also the translational approach where caregivers, physicists, engineers, technicians and biologists collaborate. I have been upholding and developing this collaboration for years, which hopefully can be seen both in the projects carried out and in the works written.

How does your research profile fit in with WCMM, at the interface between medicine and technology?
In my research network and in the research networks in which I am involved, translational cooperation is constantly being developed and expanded. Clinical participants include cardiologists, clinical physiologists, hepatologists, general medical practitioners and radiologists, as well as engineers, physicists, chemists and biologists. Cooperation between industry, university and the region has long been established and is constantly growing. My research profile focuses primarily on non-invasive biomarkers for disease progression, diagnosis and phenotyping. All studies are prospective and, in addition to acquiring extensive image diagnostic data using a magnetic camera, biological material is also acquired for biobanking and later advanced analysis. This will enable the future growth of the research network with new and advanced non-invasive analyses.

How do you think your association with WCMM can benefit your research?
WCCM in Linköping has a number of eminent researchers with many similar touch points. By meeting together, airing ideas and getting an insight into each other's projects, I believe that future collaborations will emerge. In addition, being clinically active, I hope to be able to contribute perspectives and data where our interests coincide.

Daniel Wilhelms

Emergency medical care as a research area
Portrait picture of a man.Daniel Wilhems. Daniel Wilhelms leads a research group working on new types of prognosis models based on large amounts of data and the development of physiological measurement techniques for emergency medical care.

Daniel sees working both clinically and on research as an almost essential combination. Emergency medical care is a new research area in Sweden. Daniel and his team build evidence for their work and have a very large patient base. It is relatively easy to recruit participants for their studies and to identify issues that are important to many patients.

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