Wallenberg Clinical Scholars: SEK 60 million in funding for research physicians

Press release
2020-03-23

This year’s Wallenberg Clinical Scholars, from Lund, Linköping and Stockholm, are aiming to find methods that slow the progression of Huntington’s disease, contribute to the development of more effective pain medication, refine the treatment of overweight, and cure rheumatoid arthritis. This is clinical research that can be of direct benefit in the healthcare system.

Wallenberg Clinical Scholars each receive funding worth SEK 15 million over a five-year period, with the opportunity to extend this for an additional five years. 

“The Foundation primarily supports basic research, but we also want to use this program to boost patient-oriented Swedish clinical research. As of this round, 24 Clinical Scholars have received funding and the first part of the program has been completed. From now on, the call is open to those who received funding in the first few years to apply for a further five years of funding,” says Peter Wallenberg Jr, Chair of Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences will continue to provide the scientific evaluations of the candidates.

“Clinical research offers great opportunities, but is now feeling the pinch in healthcare organizations. We are therefore particularly pleased that Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation supports leading clinical researchers through the Wallenberg Clinical Scholars program, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences believes it is important to contribute to the success of this investment,” says Göran K. Hansson, secretary general of the Academy of Sciences.

The four research physicians to receive initial funding are:

Anca Catrina, senior physician and professor at the Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, is searching for environmental factors that may trigger rheumatoid arthritis. The long-term objective is to be able to diagnose the disease at an earlier stage and to find new treatments.
She wants to find a cure for rheumatoid arthritis

Håkan Olausson, senior physician and professor at the Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, Linköping University, is studying how pain arises in the body. He has made a revolutionary discovery – an ultrafast pain system. He now wants to map this in detail, to see if there is any way of stopping pain signals.
Revolutionary discovery may provide better pain relief

Åsa Petersén, senior consultant and professor at the Department of Experimental Medical Science at Lund University. She studies Huntington’s disease, a disease that causes areas of the brain to waste away. The focus of her research is the psychiatric symptoms that may arise as much as 15 years prior to the motor difficulties in affected patients. The long-term goal is to find new ways of reducing the psychiatric symptoms and – if possible – to find treatments that can prevent the disease from developing.
Aiming to develop a treatment for Huntington’s disease

Mikael Rydén, senior physician and professor at the Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, has identified molecular disorders in the fat cells of people who are overweight and obese. He will now study these mechanisms in more detail, with the aim of finding targets for pharmaceuticals that can prevent obesity’s secondary diseases.
Why do fat cells change when someone becomes overweight?

Facts about the program

Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation is investing a total of SEK 600 million in the Wallenberg Clinical Scholars program, which is now moving into its extension phase. This means that universities with medical faculties can, from 2020, nominate previous Clinical Scholars for continued funding. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is responsible for the scientific evaluation.

Read more about the Wallenberg Clinical Scholars program
Images available for download

Contact

Peter Wallenberg Jr, Chair, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
+46 (0)8 545 017 80
kaw@kaw.se

Göran K. Hansson, Secretary General, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
+46 (0)8 673 95 00
goran.hansson@kva.se

Göran Sandberg, Executive Director, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
+46 (0)8 545 017 80
kaw@kaw.se

Press contact
Eva Nevelius, Press Secretary, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
+46 (0)70 878 6763
eva.nevelius@kva.se