Centenary Symposium: Metabolism – The Foundation of Life

Press release

Leading metabolism researchers will gather in Gothenburg on September 28 and present the latest research in their field at the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation’s 100-year anniversary symposium.

The symposium, titled Metabolism – The Foundation of Life and organised by the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology in cooperation with the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, is the sixth and final symposium held to celebrate the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation’s 100-year anniversary in 2017.

“Gothenburg has a long tradition of strong and successful metabolism research, so it made good sense to choose that theme for the commemorative symposium in Gothenburg,” says Peter Wallenberg Jr, chair of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

“To explain the importance of metabolism, let me put it like this: where there is metabolism, there is life. Where there is no metabolism, there is no life,” says Sven Enerbäck, professor of medical genetics at the University of Gothenburg and member of the organising committee.

Metabolism researchers are interested in topics reaching far beyond the diseases typically associated with metabolism. In fact, they study everything from diseases such as diabetes and how to re-program yeast to produce medicines, to mitochondria in cells and microbiota in the gut.

“We know that interference with the metabolic process can lead to many disorders, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, but also cancer. Tumours can adjust their metabolism to benefit their own growth. With this knowledge, we may be able to find ways to completely block the metabolism of a tumour and eventually offer new therapeutic methods and medicines to treat cancer. Dementias can also partly be attributed to metabolic factors. Metabolism is critical to the health of all cells. Without energy, they die,” says Enerbäck.

Anders Rosengren, University of Gothenburg, will present his research and introduce Professor Dame Frances Ashcroft from the University of Oxford.

“I’m going to talk about our latest findings where we combine bioinformatics with studies of pancreatic beta cells to explore the underlying disease mechanisms in type 2 diabetes. I will also describe examples of how beta cell research can be transferred to the treatment of patients.”

The metabolism that takes place in yeast cells can be re-programmed for various purposes. Besides medicines and foods, yeast is of great interest as a source of compounds that can be used as fuels, lubricants, cosmetics and building blocks in various polymers. Verena Siewers, researcher at Chalmers University of Technology, will talk more about this, and also introduce Professor Christina Smolke from Stanford University.

“She is a world-famous synthetic biologist, best known for her research on transferring complex biosynthetic pathways to yeast and thus allowing yeast cells to produce drugs like opioids,” says Verena Siewers.

In the 100 years since its establishment, the Foundation has allocated SEK 24 billion to Swedish research. SEK 3 billion of this amount (SEK 1.6 billion in the last 10 years) has gone to the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology.

Since 2009, Gothenburg has also been granted 11 Wallenberg Scholars, 24 Wallenberg Academy Fellows, 1 Clinical Scholar and 25 project grants.

“The Foundation’s 100-year anniversary is a big deal. Over the years, it has granted huge amounts of money to research projects that in various ways have been for the betterment of Sweden. Considering the size of the country, having a foundation that provides such strong support to research is totally unique.” says Sven Enerbäck.

The Symposium will be held at Conference Centre Wallenberg. It will be held in English and is open to anybody who is interested. Preregistration is required.

Symposium programme and registration form

Journalists are invited to participate.

For more information and to register, please contact:

Henrik Axlid, press officer, University of Gothenburg
Tel.: +46 (0)734 04 20 21