22 October 2020

The Wallenberg Centre for Molecular Medicine (WCMM) in Linköping has secured extended funding of SEK 160 million from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, plus an additional SEK 68 million for a recruitment package for researchers in data-driven life science.

illustration of dna, molecules and physician with hand-held computer.Putting data driven life science research in Sweden on the map. Photo credit ipopba Five years ago, four Wallenberg centres for molecular medicine were built in Linköping, Lund, Gothenburg and Umeå, with funding from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. The aim was to strengthen life science research in Sweden. The original funding runs until 2024, and it has now been announced that the support will be extended until 2028.

The Foundation has granted a total of SEK 600 million to the national research infrastructure SciLifeLab in the Stockholm region and to the country’s four WCMM centres. The research at the WCMM in Linköping focusses on the intersection of medicine and technology, and since the start in 2015, nine research groups have been recruited.

“This type of initiative is really needed. It is extremely important, both for medical basic research, and for more translational medical research at Linköping University in general”, says David Engblom, director of WCMM in Linköping and professor at Linköping University.

Major new initiative

The support for WCMM is part of a national life science initiative where the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation is contributing a total of SEK 3.7 billion over a 12-year period. The initiative consists of two parts where SEK 3.1 billion is a completely new, targeted investment in data-driven life science.

WCMM in Linköping will focus on data-driven life science in molecular and cell biology, and in precision medicine and diagnostics. The centre will receive SEK 68 million for the recruitment of additional research groups.David Engblom.Professor David Engblom. Photo credit Per Groth

“We have built up a considerable operation at WCMM-Linköping, and this extension of the initiative means we can continue our recruitment of researchers”, says David Engblom.

In total more than SEK one billion of the funding for data-driven life science is reserved for 260 doctoral student packages, and 210 postdoc packages will be advertised in national competition. In addition, considerable resources are being invested in artificial intelligence, bioinformatics and databases.

“The programme builds on the Foundation's previous life science initiatives and the interface now being established with the expertise established in mathematics, data and AI thanks to the Foundation’s support for autonomous systems, software and AI as well as quantum technology via the WASP and WACQT programmes”, says Peter Wallenberg Jr, chairman of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, in a press release.

Translated by Martin Mirko

What is data-driven life science?

illustration of dna, code and human
artificial neural networks are excellent at learning how to find patterns in enormous amounts of complex data. metamorworks

"Big Data" gives new information

Today’s life science technologies generate enormous amounts of data. This includes data about entire genomes (genomics), large-scale studies of proteins (proteomics), analyses of thousands of individual cells, and the like.

“This data is difficult to analyse, but it is very powerful if you know how to manage the large amount of information that is generated. In the data-driven research into molecular and cellular biology, the researchers often start with large existing datasets, and generate hypotheses from these, rather than start with an experiment in order to get data”, says David Engblom.


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