GRANTS. Sven Enerbäck, a professor of medical genetics at Sahlgrenska Academy, now joins the select team of researchers taking part in the Swedish Research Council’s Distinguished Professor program. The appointment as a Distinguished Professor provides him with SEK 50 million over 10 years.
Only the most prominent, senior researchers can be considered for the Swedish Research Council’s Distinguished Professorship. The call for proposals was open to internationally leading researchers with the ability to conduct innovative research with great potential to achieve scientific breakthroughs. The large, long-term grant makes it possible to establish and build up a large research environment of the highest quality centered on a leading researcher.
“It does indeed represent excellent recognition that the work we do is also perceived by others as interesting and important,” says Sven Enerbäck, one of eight heads of research, of which three are in medicine, to be appointed Distinguished Professors in this latest round.
Metabolism of cells
Sven Enerbäck has gained international recognition for his research on fat cells at the molecular level. He received particular attention for discovering that, not only infants, but also adults have active brown adipose tissue that affects metabolism. Publication of this discovery by Enerbäck’s research team together with a Finnish team at the University of Turku in 2009 opened up new opportunities to find methods for treating obesity.
Now his team is working on identifying transcription factors that regulate cellular metabolism in several types of cells, including white and brown fat cells.
“We try to understand how the cell senses altered conditions and then regulates its metabolism by means of transcription factors. We are particularly interested in how levels of intermediate metabolites, such as pyruvate and lactate, are regulated and how this affects various aspects of systemic energy metabolism such as insulin resistance.”
The team consists of about 10 colleagues with expertise in everything from cell experiments to animal models and human studies.
“We collaborate with several teams at the faculty but also with many colleagues at other universities and with pharmaceutical companies, such as AstraZeneca and Novo Nordisk. In the future we will focus on trying to better understand the transcriptional regulation of metabolic pathways, including glycolysis, the tricarboxylic acid cycle and oxidative phosphorylation. We want to learn more about how the regulation of enzyme levels, transporters of different kinds and substrate flows optimize metabolism. Another exciting part of this is how the various organs and cell types interact by regulating different substrate flows so that the entire organism’s metabolism functions as efficiently as possible.”
Sven Enerbäck has since several years been a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and currently also chairs its medical sciences class. He is a head of department at the Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Gothenburg.
TEXT: ELIN LINDSTRÖM