COLUMN. Collaboration is vital to developments in life science. Sahlgrenska Academy is now deepening its partnerships with several bodies, while stepping up a gear in terms of our presence at GoCo Health Innovation City, writes Dean Agneta Holmäng.
Autumn has arrived with a vengeance, bringing with it a number of funding decisions. I’ve been delighted to hear the news about all of you who have been awarded grants from the Swedish Cancer Society, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (Forte) and the Swedish Research Council, among others. Congratulations to you all!
A good sign of resurgence
As we all know, competition for external funding is very tough. My message to those of you whose applications did not win grants this year is not to give up. Try again! There’s support available from your colleagues and from our Research Support Office, who will be happy to run a second pair of eyes over your application to help you improve it.
When it comes to the Swedish Research Council, our funding is at the same level as last year. Unfortunately we were not awarded a consolidation grant (very tough competition and a low approval rate!) but on the bright side, we were awarded an impressive seven start-up grants, with several of the applications having benefitted from our research support. This is a good sign of resurgence, which is likely to result in consolidation grants in the future. I also know that we have several researcher colleagues who applied for consolidation grants and were not awarded the grant they applied for but were awarded a project grant instead.
We have an important task in ensuring our students have the skills needed for the future
Life science is developing incredibly fast. This is an exciting time, where we need to do more than just keep up and join in. We need to lead the way too. Advances in gene, cell and tissue therapies (advanced therapy medicinal products, ATMP) will be crucial to our research and education. This was something we discussed recently at this semester’s meeting of the Collaboration group on health and technology, which brings together key people at Sahlgrenska Academy, the Faculty of Science, Chalmers, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and VGR.
AstraZeneca has a long tradition of working with us on pharmaceutical development, and competitiveness in our region is now further being strengthened with the establishment of the infrastructures CCRM Nordic and Oligonova at GoCo Health Innovation City. This means that here at Sahlgrenska Academy we have an important task in ensuring our students have the skills needed for the future. The pharmacy programme is leading the way with course options based at AstraZeneca. There is further potential here to expand our collaboration in research and in education in advanced pharmaceutical therapies. Soon all our programmes will need to provide a grounding in the field of medical technology so that academia, industry and healthcare will be able to employ the skills needed in this new field.
Centre of excellence in physical activity, performance research and mental health
Sahlgrenska Academy’s involvement in GoCo is taking another step forward. We have now signed a lease for premises in the GoCo Active Lab building, which is planned to be completed in two years’ time. Here we will bring together leading research in physical activity and performance research, and in child and youth psychiatry. These research areas will cross-fertilise each other as physical activity is crucial to children and young people with neuropsychiatric disabilities. Chalmers is also planning to rent similar-sized premises for its sports technology research and we will be working closely together in forming the centre.
We propose targeted, long-term funding to strengthen collaboration between Chalmers and Sahlgrenska Academy
In the current economic climate, we cannot count on an increase in the basic appropriation for research and education but Minister for Education Mats Persson has opened up scope for pilot projects in the forthcoming research bill. Given the rapid developments in life science and our flourishing collaboration, President and CEO of Chalmers, Martin Nilsson Jacobi, and I made a joint submission to the work on the research bill. In it, we propose targeted, long-term funding to strengthen collaboration between Chalmers and Sahlgrenska Academy. The aim is to encourage excellent and internationally leading researcher-initiated research, education and innovation at the interface between medicine and technology. The government’s research and innovation policy bill will be presented in late 2024.
To conclude, I would like to thank the faculty board election committee and others who helped to ensure the election of the dean and pro-dean ran smoothly. I would like to congratulate Jenny Nyström and Magnus Simrén and wish them all the best as they take up their new roles at the start of next year.
There are many people I would like to thank
There will be a Farewell Reception for the current faculty leadership on 21 December and it would be great to see as many of you there as possible. Do sign up! There are many people I would like to thank personally for your cooperation over the years. (link https://akademiliv.se/2023/11/95723/)
Note too that we are inviting the collegium to a General Academy Meeting on 11 December. Here we will be discussing how to publish our manuscripts and the increasing costs of our scientific publications. (link https://akademiliv.se/2023/10/94960/)
I look forward to seeing you!
Dean Sahlgrenska Academy