CHRONICLE. In her last letter to staff and students this semester, Agneta Holmäng focuses especially on two matters that caused a big flurry of activity over the spring. One is the work of selecting profile areas to propose to the Swedish Research Council. The other is our incipient collaboration with GoCo Health Innovation City.
Let me start by expressing my warmest summer wishes. At last, in the spring, we were able to meet in person again. We have all taken every chance to get together and try to make up for what we missed during the pandemic. That contributed to the period being a hectic one for many of us.
Task of proposing profile areas not sought by us
One activity that was intensified over the spring was the process intended to culminate in the Faculty’s proposed profile areas in which the University will be able to apply for funding from the Swedish Research Council (VR) at the start of 2023.
The task of designating profile areas is nothing we wished for. Picking out specific areas as particularly important and worth prioritizing is, for a faculty of Sahlgrenska Academy’s breadth and size, an almost impossible task. We need to consider a range of aspects apart from current scientific production, such as the future prospects of the respective areas and how far they may be seen as worth investing in by other faculties, and by the University of Gothenburg’s (GU) management, as well. It is GU that submits applications, not one of the individual faculties. One substantial factor is, of course, the likelihood of the application being successful in the overall national assessment, in which scientific quality is only one of several parameters to be judged. The work has also been impeded by the uncertainty that has prevailed, until very recently, as to whether this investment will be made at all and, if so, the form it will take.
The starting point for Sahlgrenska Academy’s review was that the institutions were asked to submit proposals for areas, and these proposals were supplemented after feedback from the University management. Thereafter, the matter was repeatedly discussed in the Vice Deans’ and Department Heads’ groups, the Faculty Areas, and Sahlgrenska Academic Board. There, a consensus emerged on the proposed areas and the view that they should comprise a large part of our research.
One ambition seen as desirable by everyone involved in this work has been to define areas that are not only effective and credible, but also as wide-ranging as possible, to maximize the number of the Academy’s researchers who can be included to a greater or lesser degree. Two potential topics highlighted in the still ongoing process are metabolism and disorders of the nervous system.
A final decision on the issue will be made at the beginning of the Fall Semester. By then, the matter will be processed further — in the Faculty Areas, in a group appointed specially for the purpose, comprising representatives from all the Faculty’s institutions, AstraZeneca and Region Västra Götaland/Sahlgrenska University Hospital, and the Academy Board. Feel free to comment.
Sahlgrenska Academy: an essential partner in Life Sciences
In the Gothenburg region, we are in the midst of an exceptionally strong, positive surge of development in the life sciences area. Sahlgrenska Academy is a key partner in developing life sciences, and Campus Medicinareberget will be a hub for these subjects. As soon as next year, almost the entire Science Faculty will be gathered in Natrium. Intensive preparatory work for the construction of Sahlgrenska Life is ongoing, involving many of our employees.
The growth of GoCo Health Innovation City is another pleasing prospect. It will be a separate R&D-driven district, around AstraZeneca in Mölndal, that also includes housing for researchers and students alike. The construction and expansion of GoCo are progressing fast. Phase 1 will be completed this year, with Phase 2 due to begin in 2023. OligoNova Hub, Sweden’s new national infrastructure for drug development with a special focus on therapeutic oligonucleotides, has already been set up in AstraZeneca’s BioVentureHub, and will be given permanent premises in GoCo later. By year-end, GoCo House will be ready and open for further collaboration between academia and the public and business sectors.
For a while now, our Pharmacy Program has been starting to set up certain courses on site at AstraZeneca, as part of the program’s clear pharmaceutical drug profile. Within the GoCo investment, Sahlgrenska Academy and several other partners are now stepping up research on performance development for elite athletes and initiating a special focus on the importance of physical activity in connection with mental illness and neuropsychiatric disorders. Other partners in the venture include the gym chain SATS and hockey legend Henrik Lundquist.
Official inauguration planned for the fall
In conclusion, I can tell you that the permanent exhibition about our Nobel Prize winner Arvid Carlsson has now been completed. It is located outside the Arvid Carlsson Lecture Hall in Academicum. Do try to set aside some time and look at the excellent outcome. At the exhibition, you can learn more about Arvid’s research area, the environment he worked in, and his most important discoveries. We recently had a preview for specially invited guests, including Carlsson’s family, and it was very well received. I particularly want to thank the Communication Unit for their extensive work on the exhibition. We plan to have a more official inauguration after the summer, to which the entire Faculty and other guests closely associated with Sahlgrenska Academy will be invited.
I hope you have a splendid summer, with the chance to take a real, well-deserved break from work.