ASSIGNMENT. Cecilia Engdahl, an associate professor of experimental autoimmunity at the Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research, is one of six young researchers in Sweden who have just been elected as new members of the Young Academy of Sweden.
“It will be great fun and inspiring to work with the Young Academy of Sweden. Of course, the opportunity to make an impact is most important, but I also very much look forward to getting to know other young academics from other disciplines and universities,” says Engdahl.
“We are both honored and happy to welcome new members. Young academics collaborate with one another throughout the world, and standing up for freedom and knowledge is more important than ever,” says Mia Liinason, a professor of gender studies at Lund University, who becomes the new chair on May 21.
Can make a difference
In a way, her new assignment is an extension of Cecilia Engdahl’s previous involvement with Future Faculty at Sahlgrenska Academy and with National Junior Faculty, the national organization. As a new member of the Young Academy of Sweden, she believes there is a great opportunity to make an impact.
“In 2023 the Young Academy of Sweden will write a proposal for the research bill, and I hope to take part in that. I hope we can highlight the lack of career paths for young researchers and make proposals to facilitate the mobility of researchers.”
Not just top names
She believes that academia needs to find a way to retain talented researchers and that young researchers who devote their lives to answering research questions need to receive something in return. Today’s difficult conditions make it hard for many young researchers to stay in academia.
“As a young researcher, you need to establish yourself, obtain grants, write publications, and be a project leader. In addition, you have to teach, take care of administration, and make a name for yourself. Opportunities to remain in academia need to be improved for more people, not just top names. More people should also be given the chance to enroll in doctoral studies.”
She thinks it would be particularly inspiring to work with young people and young adults, such as by establishing a new podcast aimed at this target group.
The immune system and fractures
Engdahl’s research focuses on why those with an activated immune system also have an increased risk of fractures, both through autoimmune conditions and after undergoing hematopoietic stem cell treatment.
“The immune system affects a whole range of different mechanisms in the body. In the past, this was not such a big problem because patients unfortunately then died as a result of their autoimmune disease or cancer treatment. But today, when many people survive, we need to be able to avoid, or at any rate militate against, patients dying as a result of a fracture, perhaps even at age 75,” says Engdahl.
Find out more about the Young Academy of Sweden: www.sverigesungaakademi.se
BY: ELIN LINDSTRÖM