070323 Chalmers recruits systems biologist Jens Nielsen
Chalmers makes a large investment into life sciences by recruiting professors in systems biology and bioprocess technology.
The engineering science at Chalmers is entering a biological era with the purpose of learning more about nature's own technologies for building the molecular networks of biology. This emerging field, Systems Biology, aims at finding new treatments for diseases and improving existing and creating new industrial processes.
On March 14, Professor Jens Nielsen was recruited to Chalmers from the Technical University of Denmark, DTU. The recruitment is part of a large investment into a new research area - Quantitative Systems Biology. Nielsen is presently head of the Centre for Microbial Biotechnology at DTU.
At the same time, Professor Lisbeth Olsson is recruited from the DTU centre. Olsson is an expert on bioprocess technology and is expected to be an important link to Swedish industry, particularly in the energy, pharmaceutical and food sectors.
"Many of Chalmers' prominent research areas show great interest in this recruitment. Now Chalmers can achieve critical mass of researchers at the forefront of life science. Furthermore, we expect to attract talented young researchers and students as well as valuable collaborations with both academia and industry," says Karin Markides, President of Chalmers University of Technology.
Catharina Hiort, coordinator of Chalmers Biocenter, adds:
"We now have a unique opportunity to build a leading Systems Biology environment in Göteborg together with Göteborg University and industry in the region. Such an environment, which successfully brings together research on biotechnology, engineering science, fundamental biological processes, and the treatment of disease is likely to be highly competitive on the international arena."
Nielsen aims to understand complex biological systems
Yeast is much more than just an ingredient in baking or brewing. Nielsen uses, among other organisms, the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model organism in his systems biology research.
"This single-cell organism is an excellent model system. Humans have many genes and biochemical reactions in common with yeast," says Nielsen.
Nielsen uses systems biology approaches to simultaneously study all reactions in an organism to better understand development, growth and metabolism. The knowledge generated in this way is expected to contribute to increased efficiency of drugs, for example for the treatment of diabetes.
Olsson's microbes contribute to a sustainable society
Olsson studies and develops effective cell factories for sustainable production of a variety of products, such as plastics and chemicals, biofuels, pharmaceuticals and functional food ingredients from, for example, agri-industrial residue. A main goal is to decrease society's dependence on petroleum-based substances.
The recruitment stirs large interest outside of Chalmers
"This is a great catch for Chalmers. Fantastic for you and for the rest of Sweden," says Mathias Uhlén, professor of Molecular Biotechnology at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), and leader of Sweden's largest research project: the Human Proteome Resource.
He continues: "I'm most interested in extending our collaborations with Chalmers, especially with Jens in Systems Biology."
Stefan Hohmann, professor of Microbiology at Göteborg University and chairman of the research coordination group of the Faculty of Science, comments:
"We have had already for several years collaborative projects with Jens Nielsen. This is a fantastic recruitment for Chalmers that will directly create wide visibility. He and Lisbeth Olsson perfectly complement and strengthen existing activities at Chalmers and Göteborg University."
For more information, please contact
Catharina Hiort, coordinator, Chalmers Biocentrum
+4631-772 86 33
Last modified: April 18, 2007