The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded Kaj Blennow at the University of Gothenburg the 2014 Torsten Söderberg Academy Professorial Chair in Medicine. The purpose of the SEK 10 million chair is to promote leading international research in medicine.
Dr. Blennow is a professor and director of research at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and Director of the Neurochemistry Laboratory at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. He has made major strides in Alzheimer’s research. The biomarkers that his laboratory have discovered and developed are used around the world.
Alzheimer’s, which is one of the most widespread diseases in modern society, also causes the most common form of dementia. The condition must be detected as early as possible in order to initiate therapy before changes in the brain become too extensive. Dr. Blennow’s research has focused on analytical methods, primarily by means of biomarkers that are able to show clumping of proteins in the brain. Clumping—which disturbs the function of neurons while leading to their atrophy and that of their synapses—is an underlying mechanism of Alzheimer’s.
Referred to as T-tau, P-tau and Aβ-42, the analytical method has had a major international impact.
The biomarkers may also be used to identify the biochemical efficacy of new drugs and to study the pathological mechanisms of Alzheimer’s directly in patients. The goal of both the project and the chair is to discover and develop highly sensitive biomarkers for the core pathological mechanisms of Alzheimer’s. Researchers hope that the method can eventually be refined to the point that blood tests with the ability to identity Alzheimer’s will become part of ordinary clinical practice.
“I am truly delighted to have received this prestigious chair,” Dr. Blennow says. “Acknowledging clinically based biochemical research is vital, given that it has shown to provide the foundation for studying the dynamics of Alzheimer’s. My vision is to use the chair in order to develop a complete panel of biochemical tests that can be performed for early diagnosis, as well more thoroughly understanding the molecular mechanisms behind Alzheimer’s as a step toward discovering optimum therapies.”
Dr. Blennow received a PhD from the University of Gothenburg in 1990. After specializing in clinical chemistry, he became a professor of Clinical Neurochemistry in 2003, as well as a director of research at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg. He is also the Director of the Neurochemistry Laboratory at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.
Dr. Blennow is a frequent lecturer around the world—his team of researchers publishes 40-60 articles every year in scientific journals.
Size of the grant: SEK 2 million annually for five years, a total of SEK 10 million from the Torsten Söderberg Foundation
Torsten Söderberg Foundation
The Torsten Söderberg Foundation awards grants for scientific research, education and studies, generally in financial, medical and forensic science areas. The foundation has averaged annual grants of approximately SEK 110 million over the past five years.
Learn more about the foundation at : www.torstensoderbergsstiftelse.se