STUDENTS. The 69 students at Sahlgrenska Academy who spent their summer conducting research were recently invited to a diploma award ceremony in the Birgit Thilander assembly room. For the first time, pharmacists and dentists in training joined medical students in receiving their diplomas from Helen and Oscar von Sydow.
Scholarships from the Mary von Sydow Foundation and the Erik and Lily Philipson Memorial Foundation made the summer research program possible. Some of the students conducting summer research also received funding from the Aina Wallström and Mary-Ann Sjöblom Foundation for Medical Research at the University of Gothenburg.
This year 69 students, including 13 pharmacists and dentists in training, were able to spend eight weeks during the summer conducting research under the supervision of various researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy. Since the pandemic limited opportunities for other summer jobs, the funds provided scholarships to more students this year than before.
This was the first year that pharmacists and dentists could join the summer research. They studied malaria pharmaceuticals, inflammatory processes in dental implants, and caries from the perspective that sharks do not suffer this type of dental damage.
Brain researcher for a summer
Dima Harba has been interested in research ever since she started the medical program two years ago:
“From the first day of classes, I asked what I should do to later become a doctoral student,” she says.
This summer she worked in Linda Engström Ruud’s laboratory, where she assisted in research on how the brain regulates involuntary undereating.
“It was really instructive. I have incised and stained the brain from a mouse and examined the incisions under a fluorescent microscope. It is a new project, and I would really enjoy seeing the results to which I contributed eventually published in an article.”
Nicotine affects the blood
Marcus Burman, now in his fourth semester of the medical program, has also been interested in research for a long time. During the summer he worked on a project involving addiction medication, with Louise Adermark as supervisor.
“I have worked on a hematological study of how nicotine affects the blood and internal organs. This has really been a great experience, especially spending time in the lab and conducting practical research.” He hopes to become a research associate professor a little later during his training as a medical doctor.
The research team where Burman worked this summer is studying how repeated exposure to nicotine affects the brain and behaviors. The goal is also to increase understanding of the impact of nicotine on the entire individual and evaluate how nicotine exposure can increase the risk of suffering not only from addiction but also from cardiovascular or psychiatric diseases.
An example for others
Since the program’s inception in 2003, the scholarships have contributed SEK 12 million, which has allowed almost 700 students to spend a few summer months on research. Without the active involvement of Helen and Oscar von Sydow, who have both been appointed honorary doctors at Sahlgrenska Academy, the initiative would not have been possible.
“The summer research scholarships provide meaningful employment for the students and stimulate their interest in research. Our model works so well that Stockholm has emulated us. For the past four years, students have been able to apply for similar scholarships from the Swedish Society of Medicine,” Helen von Sydow said at the diploma award ceremony.
Mary von Sydow at the inauguration of the Second International Women’s Sports Games in Gothenburg, 1926. Photo: Bertil Norberg, Swedish Picture Center (Mary von Sydow’s archive, KvinnSam, Gothenburg University Library),
Oscar von Sydow provided some background on the history of the three funds that now enable summer research for students at Sahlgrenska Academy. When his grandmother, Mary von Sydow, established her fund, doing so was a popular way to contribute to the development of society, he noted.
“Some of the funds formed at the beginning of the 20th century have such a narrow description of purpose that today it is difficult to award the funds. But my grandmother was wise and chose a broad description of what the money should be used for, including promoting scholarly instruction and research.”
Helen and Oscar von Sydow also expressed their warmest thanks to the researchers who took part as supervisors for the students during the summer. Education Officer Rikard Zeilon also received a special thank you, as did Professor Mia Ericson, who helped the scholarship funds select the best candidates from among the applicants.
By ELIN LINDSTRÖM