News: Livsvetenskaper och teknik related to Chalmers University of TechnologyThu, 09 Feb 2017 16:30:27 +0100 MSEK for developing target seeking biological pharmaceuticals<p><b>​The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF) invests 75 million SEK in an industrial research centre managed by Chalmers Professor Fredrik Höök. The project focuses on encapsulating biological pharmaceuticals into nanoscale carriers in order to reach the body’s cells and treat severe diseases.</b></p>​<span><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/F/Blandade%20dimensioner%20inne%20i%20artikel/Fredrik_Hook_300x350px.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="height:290px;width:250px;margin:5px" /><span style="display:inline-block"></span></span>&quot;A promising candidate for treating today’s incurable diseases is to reprogram the cells. However, since the reprogramming must take place inside the cell the pharmaceutical must penetrate the cell membrane. Designing and encapsulating biological molecules in nanocarriers so that they are capable of this is very challenging. That’s why it’s important with a broad-scale collaboration between the academia and the industry, says Fredrik Höök, Professor in biological physics at the Department of Physics at Chalmers and academic leader for Formulaex. <br /><br />The industrial research centre will focus on so called nucleotide-based therapeutics and in the consortium Chalmers collaborates with the lead industrial partner Astra Zeneca as well as Camurus, Vironova, Gothenburg Sensor Devices and the academic partners Karolinska Institute and University of Gothenburg. <br /><br />The centre will study fundamental requirements for pharmaceuticals made from biological molecules like DNA and RNA – the code that is the foundation for how cells work. Present research on the improvement of pharmaceuticals’ transportation into a cell is based on fabricating nanoparticles which mimic naturally occurring processes in the human body. Cells can, for instance, communicate by exchange of nanocarriers.<br /><br />“I am looking forward to the new dimension this project will add to our ongoing research, which has potential value far outside this team of academic and industrial partners. The assembled excellence of the industry and the academia can hopefully generate a great benefit for society. We also hope that our region will become even more attractive within Life science”, says Fredrik Höök. <br /><br />Within the Chalmers’ team there are two more members: Professor Marcus Wilhelmsson at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and Associate Professor Elin Esbjörner at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering. <br /><br />The project “Functional delivery of nucleotide based therapeutics” will run for six to eight years and give a better understanding of the process of cellular uptake and endosomal escape of nucleotide based therapeutics. The work includes development of advanced analytical methods, biomolecular design, cell studies and development of nanocarriers and delivery of new genetic bases therapeutics.  <br /><br />Text: Mia Halleröd Palmgren,<br /><br /><strong>Contact: </strong><br />Fredrik Höök, Academic leader, Professor at the Department of Physics, Chalmers, 0708-95 12 39,<br /><br /><strong>More information: </strong><br /><br /><a href=""><img src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" alt="" />Read the press release from The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Researc</a>h (in Swedish) <br /><a href="/en/departments/physics/news/Pages/A-Chalmers-innovation-paves-the-way-for-the-next-generation-of-pharmaceuticals.aspx"><img src="/_layouts/images/ichtm.gif" class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" alt="" />Read more about the research of Fredrik Höök. </a><br /><a href="/en/departments/physics/news/Pages/A-Chalmers-innovation-paves-the-way-for-the-next-generation-of-pharmaceuticals.aspx"></a><br /><span><span>Note: 75 MSEK equals approximately 7.9 MEUR (9 February 2017)<span style="display:inline-block"></span></span></span><br />Wed, 08 Feb 2017 00:00:00 +0100 vaccine safety<p><b>​When a vaccine is given, there’s always a risk of side-effects since it induces an immune response. The BIO-department is involved in the largest vaccine project ever, with the aim to develop new tools for monitoring vaccine safety.</b></p>​Vaccines are general; the same vaccine is given to everyone. But people are individuals, and some may react to the vaccine with unwanted side-effects.<br /><br />With new cutting-edge tools it might be possible to predict side-effects before they actually occur, thus giving the chance of rapid treatment. The technique could also, further down the line, give clues to make vaccine side-effects more rare and vaccines safer.<br /><br />Researchers from Chalmers Department of Biology and Biological Engineering is working together with a total of 18 partners from different academic disciplines in the EU-project BioVacSafe (Biomarkers for enhanced vaccines immunosafety). Among the partners are Imperial College London, Max Planck Institute and Gothenburg University as well as world leading pharmaceutical companies.<br /><br />The overall goal is to develop tools to speed up and improve the monitoring systems of vaccine safety, both before and after release to the market.<br />– We want to monitor patients to find side-effects before the patients have noticed them themselves, says Sakda Khoomrung, project leader at the division of Systems and Synthetic Biology.<br />– The project started in 2012 and has gone very well. There’s potential to continue as we see good results of our work.<br /><br />The Systems Biology-researchers, headed by Professor Jens Nielsen, is contributing to the BioVacSafe-project as responsible for two parts. One is to design and implement a web-based platform that will integrate different types of data, such as transcriptomics, metabolomics and clinical data. Sakda Khoomrung is working with the other part; to analyze metabolic response to the vaccines.<br /><br />Serum samples have been collected from 60 patients in total. A third, 20 patients, was given the influenza vaccine Fluad, 20 was given the Yellow fever vaccine Stamaril, and 20 was given placebo. The researchers analyzed blood taken from each patient on three occasions before the vaccine (or placebo) was administrated, and a total of eight times afterwards.<br /><br />The patients stayed in the hospital for a full week during the study, giving the researchers complete control over their food intake and activities. This is important since metabolomics shows the body’s response to both food and other habits, such as exercise, smoking or drinking. The group was then monitored for three additional weeks after going home.<br /><img width="240" height="300" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/SysBio/sakda_240.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="" style="height:192px;width:150px;margin:5px" />– In our preliminary results, we found that there is a metabolic response to an individual vaccine, and that this changes over time, Sakda Khoomrung says.<br />– Primary metabolites such as lipids and amino acids – metabolites that are involved in your basic life functions and change when you move, exercise or get sick – are particularly sensitive to changes that occur during immune responses. These metabolites could potentially be used as metabolite biomarkers, helping to improve our understanding of vaccine safety, or identifying the metabolic responses to indicate side-effects. I personally believe this is an important piece of information that will greatly help for the development of the next generation of human vaccine.<br /><br />The BioVacSafe project has received funding until the end of February 2018. Sakda Khoomrung is confident the research will continue, but maybe in another form.<br />– It could be split up in different projects. We have shown interesting results, worth taking forward.<br /><br />Note: To read more about the BioVacSafe project, please <a href="">visit the project’s website</a>.<br /><br />In the top photo, from left: Researchers Intawat Nookaew, Partho Sen, Jens Nielsen and Sakda Khoomrung.<br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photos: Martina Butorac<br />Mon, 30 Jan 2017 17:00:00 +0100 bone conduction hearing aid passed long term endurance test<p><b>​For how long time can an implant function inside the body without losing performance? That is one of many questions researchers want to have answers to when new implants are developed, before they eventually can be approved for general use in healthcare.</b></p>​Patients who are suffering from conductive or mixed hearing loss can gain normal hearing with a new implant that replaces the middle ear. Over 200 000 people worldwide have this type of hearing aids that uses the skull bone to transmit sound vibrations to the inner ear via so-called bone conduction.<br /><br />The Bone Conduction Implant (BCI) is a new type of hearing aid with several improved features developed by <span>researchers at Chalmers´ department of signals and systems, in collaboration with </span><span><span>Senior Physician <span style="display:inline-block"></span></span></span><span>Måns Eeg-Olofsson and his team at the ENT department, Sahlgrenska University Hospital.</span> The first patient received the BCI implant in December 2012 in Gothenburg, and it is today worn by 16 patients in a clinical study.<br /><br /><strong>Milestone celebrated </strong><br />Recently, a milestone was reached on the way to the goal of launching the BCI to the market in the future. The bone conduction implant has been kept “listening” to radio in an age-acceleration test chamber that accelerates the exposure time with a factor of approximately six times. <br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/s2/Nyheter%20och%20kalendarium/Ny%20unik%20benförankrad%20hörapparat%20klarade%20långtidstest/Bo_Håkansson_320px.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br />“The performance of the implant has been verified and monitored corresponding to ten years of normal usage time for patients who are using the hearing aid for eight hours on a daily basis”, says Professor Bo Håkansson, originator of the bone conduction hearing aids and a pioneer in the field with 40 years´ research experience.<br /><br />The long term endurance test shows that the life span of the implant is longer than the desired minimum time for implants in the human body, often considered to be ten years.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />“Once a month, for twenty months, we have monitored the implant performance at different frequencies”, says PhD-student Karl-Johan Fredén Jansson, who is responsible for these validations, which also is an important part of his coming doctoral thesis. “We are pleased to note that we during this time haven’t seen any impairment in the implant function.”<br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/s2/Nyheter%20och%20kalendarium/Ny%20unik%20benförankrad%20hörapparat%20klarade%20långtidstest/Karl-Johan-Freden-Jansson_320px.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br /><strong><br />Simulating conditions in the human body</strong><br />The test chamber was constructed about two years ago by the student Helga Jóna Harðardóttir, who started the project during her master thesis project at Chalmers.<br /><br />To simulate the real conditions in the human body, the temperature in the test chamber is kept at 37 degrees Celsius. The Swedish national radio P1 has proved to be the best radio channel to use in the test, since the broadcasts resemble a good mix of the sounds you are exposed to during an ordinary day at work, comprising both spoken words and other sounds.<br /><br />The researchers can whenever they want connect and listen how the sound would be perceived inside of the head of the patient using the implant, through a so called skull simulator.<br /><br /><strong>Valuable meetings with patients </strong><br />Evaluations are also done concerning how the patients in the study experience the life with their new hearing aid and they regularly come to Chalmers to do follow-up visits and hearing tests.<br /><br />”So far we have received good responses from the participants and haven’t had any serious complications”, says Professor Bo Håkansson. “To meet grateful patients, who feels a higher quality of life, gives us a very strong motivation to carry on with our work.”<br /><br /><strong>Heading for long term goal</strong><br />In the meantime the implant continues to “listen” to radio in the test chamber. The aim is to collect more data, which gives information about how the implant reacts if the hearing aid is used for more years and over eight hours on a daily basis.<br /><br />The long term goal is to get CE-mark in the EU and approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, FDA. Important information to qualify for these requirements, concerns for example safety issues towards the patient, technical function and hearing rehabilitation. These are essential steps on the way of launching the BCI as a new hearing aid for general use in healthcare, and to offer improved hearing rehabilitation for more people.<br /><br />Text: Yvonne Jonsson<br />Photo: Oscar Mattsson<br /><br /><br /><strong>This is how the Bone Conduction Implant (BCI) works</strong><br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/s2/Nyheter%20och%20kalendarium/Ny%20unik%20benförankrad%20hörapparat%20klarade%20långtidstest/BCI-implantat+processor_i_hand_320px.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" />The implant is slightly less than six centimeters long. By a surgical procedure, it is implanted in the skull bone under the skin at a position behind the ear. Sound is transmitted wirelessly from an externally worn sound processor to the implant by an induction link, comprising one transmitter coil in the sound processor and one receiver coil in the implant. The patient can easily attach or remove the sound processor from the head as it is magnetically attached over the implant. <br /><br />The audio signal is transmitted to a tiny quadratic loudspeaker anchored to the bone near the auditory canal. The speaker generates sound vibrations which reaches the sensory organs of the cochlea, and is further by the brain interpreted as sound.<br /><br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/s2/Nyheter%20och%20kalendarium/Ny%20unik%20benförankrad%20hörapparat%20klarade%20långtidstest/BCI_320px.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" />In comparison with the convention Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA), the wireless link keeps the skin intact because there is no titanium screw needed through the skin.  <br /><br />Thanks to a new type of transducer technique, the BCI transducer can be made small, but as powerful as a BAHA, and at the same time avoid complications related to a titanium screw through the skin.<br /><br />Illustration: Boid/Chalmers<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><a href="/en/departments/s2/research/Signal-processing-and-Biomedical-engineering/Pages/Biomedical-signals-and-systems.aspx">&gt; Read more about research in biomedical signals and system</a><br /><br />Fri, 27 Jan 2017 00:00:00 +0100 Day for Chalmers life science community<p><b>​More than 40 people from Life Science Engineering Area of Advance met at Chalmersska huset on January 20, for community building activities, information and interesting conversations.</b></p>​Ivan Mijakovic, Head of Life Science Engineering (LSE), started the conference day with a presentation of the Area of Advance, with mentions on last year’s activities and plans for the future.<br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/AoADay_1.JPG" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br />– Last year, we rebooted our website, which we see as a vital tool for communicating with you, he said.<br />– We also appointed seven new profile leaders, chosen to reflect as many of our affiliated departments as possible, and also keeping gender balance in mind. Together with them, we then changed the names of our three profiles to Engineering Solutions for Health, Molecules &amp; Modelling of Life and Toward a Biosustainable Future.<br />The profile leaders could all be found on the web page, and Ivan Mijakovic pointed out:<br /><img width="300" height="200" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/AoADay_2.JPG" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br />– If you wonder if the Area of Advance could help you, contact a profile leader and ask!<br /><br />LSE offers community building and a platform, to connect researchers at Chalmers, provide seed funding to spur new collaborations, and organize seminars. The Area of Advance also help researcher advertise their success, and help with utilization. Researchers2Utilization is a program started in collaboration with LSE last year:<br />– Through this program, you have the opportunity to see the existing possibilities within Chalmers but also in Gothenburg. You visit Chalmers Innovation office, Västra Götalands Regionen and Business Region Göteborg among others. These visits take place during the fall, and applications should be sent to me, Ivan Mijakovic said.<br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/AoADay_3.JPG" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br />– If you then want to go further, you could join the Mentors2Research program. It’s extremely useful.<br />Ivan Mijakovic then continued by talking about the collaborations with students, and mentioned the very popular Monday lunch seminars.<br />– We are currently looking for a PhD student representative to help organize this, so please get in touch if you have any suggestions.<br />After talking about the recruitment of Assistant Professors to the Areas of Advance, and pointing out that LSE wants to see recruitments in the area between the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering and other departments, Ivan Mijakovic started up the speed presentations.<br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/AoADay_4.JPG" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br />The following presentations covered research on graphene, protein structures, early life nutrition, algae, cancer diagnostics, image analysis, biomass from the sea or forest, food intake, recycling of batteries, gut bacteria and much more. Marina Axelsson-Fisk, who was one of the first to present, said:<br />– Collaborations is what’s most fun! I work with several biologists, but no one at Chalmers, and I’m new to this group.<br />Marcus Wilhelmsson and Nathalie Sheers both commented that they already heard things of interest during the presentations, and Torbjörn Lundh concluded:<br />– It’s amazing to hear of all the interesting things going on here at Chalmers!<br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/AoADay_5.JPG" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br />The interest in each other’s research was clear during the breaks; the participants immediately took the opportunity to mingle and make new connections.<br />A call for seed grants 2018 was presented during the day (<a href="/en/areas-of-advance/lifescience/news/Pages/Seed-grant-2018.aspx">read separate text here</a>), and the four projects awarded seed grants 2017 were presented (<a href="/en/areas-of-advance/lifescience/news/Pages/Seed-grant-announced.aspx">to read more about the awardees, click here</a>).<br />– We had only 11 applications last time, but we were amazed by the high quality of the research ideas, Ann-Sofie Cans, Co-director of LSE, commented.<br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/AoADay_8.JPG" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br />Before closing the meeting, Ann-Sofie Cans presented some ideas for the next Area of Advance Day:<br />– Next time, we will have a one day event with speakers and a poster session. We will then not only invite PI’s, but also Post docs and PhD students.<br /><br /><strong>Note</strong>: For this meeting, a booklet with short presentations of the participants was produced. If you are interested in a copy, send an email to the LSE Communication officer Mia Malmstedt. During the day, the Area of Advance also collected feedback in a short questionnaire. Would you like to give your opinion on the communication from LSE (newsletters, emails etc)? Please get in contact with Mia Malmstedt to get the questionnaire.<br /><br />Text and photos: Mia MalmstedtMon, 23 Jan 2017 17:00:00 +0100 for seed grants 2018!<p><b>​Applicants with interdisciplinary projects within the life science area are now invited to apply for seed grants 2018. Submission deadline: March 1.</b></p>​The Area of Advance seed grants will be given to support new collaborations between departments to spur high-risk, high-gain research projects, or promising utilization projects.<br /><br />A minimum of two Chalmers faculty members from different departments must be included in the project, and the topic should fall under one of Life Science Engineering’s three profiles; Towards a Biosustainable Future, Molecules &amp; Modelling of Life or Engineering Solutions for Health. Please specify the profile in your application (<a href="/en/areas-of-advance/lifescience/research/Pages/default.aspx">to read more about the profiles, click here</a>).<br /><br />The attributed grant amount is 500 k SEK, and the duration is 12 months. There will be a total of three seed grants awarded for 2018.<br /><br /><strong>How to apply:</strong><br /><br />The application should be sent by e-mail <a href="">Karolina Partheen</a> (click on her name to e-mail) as a single PDF file. The application file should contain:<br /><br />1) A maximum of two pages with description of the project, free style, but clearly explaining:<br />• scientific objective(s) of the project<br />• interdisciplinary and collaborative dimension of the project (collaborations between different departments is a formal requirement)<br />• expected measurable outcomes (research paper(s), joint applications for external funding, results needed for further collaboration, etc.) <br />• if relevant, coupling to any complementary funding, e.g. from another AoA, department, external (co-funded applications will be prioritized)<br />• brief budget justification<br />• contact person name and e-mail address<br /><br />2) Short CV:s (one page) for each co-applicant, free style, but specifying the total number of peer reviewed publications and the H-index. If relevant for the particular research field, additional bibliometric indicators can be provided.<br /><br /><strong>Timeline:</strong><br />• Applications should be sent by e-mail to Karolina Partheen, no later than March 1, 2017. <br />• After evaluation and ranking, the applicants will be notified of the outcome on April 15. <br />• The projects will start (receive funding) from January 1, 2018. <br />• The project outcome shall be reported to the Area of Advance Director by January 31, 2019 (single page document, free style).<br /><br /><strong>For any clarifications</strong>, please do not hesitate to contact us (click on names to e-mail): <a href="">Ivan Mijakovic</a>, Director, or <a href="">Ann-Sofie Cans</a>, Co-director.Mon, 23 Jan 2017 11:00:00 +0100 Professor at Nobel Week Dialogue<p><b>​This year&#39;s Nobel Week Dialogue – The Future of Food – featured Nobel Prize winners, prominent scientists and politicians. Professor Anne-Marie Hermansson from Chalmers Division of Food and Nutrition Science was invited to discuss sustainability.</b></p>​Nobel Week Dialogue is held each year on the day before the Nobel Prize ceremony. An ambitious program of lectures and panel discussions is organized. This year's theme was The Future of Food, and it attracted an audience of 1500. Chalmers Professor Anne-Marie Hermansson was a panelist to discuss sustainable food production.<br /><img width="350" height="450" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/AnnMarieHermansson.jpg" alt="" style="height:356px;width:274px;margin:5px" /><br />– We have many challenges ahead of us. Food production has to be sustainable and innovative. The industry need to find new ways to produce food with less water and energy consumption, and with greater recycling. I would say that the water issue is our biggest challenge in the long perspective, she said.<br />– Climate change will affect us and one challenge is to understand how to use new crops and raw materials to produce foods. Nutritious food also has to be cheap, safe and available. Fluctuations in world market prices for raw materials will have an effect on availability and that will affect the neediest if no action is taken.<br /><br />Sustainability, waste and health aspects of food was on the menu during the day. Six Nobel laureates, professors, entrepreneurs and politicians like Isabella Lövin, Swedish minister for International Development Cooperation, engaged in the discussions.<br />– They really found people who knew the field and moreover were charismatic and got the audience to engage, Anne-Marie Hermansson says.<br />– They also did a great job of putting together interesting combinations, like the musician Patti Smith and Angus Deaton, last year's Nobel laureate in economics. I think the atmosphere was incredibly nice, and the audience was complicit. The organizers said this was their best event so far.<br /><br />Anne-Marie Hermansson was invited after sending in names of other knowledgeable persons in the research field:<br />– I was worried that they would arrange this without inviting any food scientists, so I tried to help. It ended up with them suggesting me. It took a while before I realized they actually wanted me to participate in the panel, she says.<br /><br />To have a well-organized and good arrangement within food and future challenges is important for the field, Anne-Marie Hermansson says. And the event also strenghtened Chalmers:<br />– It’s very good for Chalmers to have a representative at the Nobel Week Dialogue. Last year Lars Börjesson, who was then the Vice President, participated.<br /><br />Next year’s Nobel Week Dialogue will be in Gothenburg on December 9 2017.<br /><br />Note: You can watch <a href="">Nobel Week Dialogue on YouTube</a>. The panel discussion with <a href=";t=164s&amp;list=PLJE9rmV1-0uB6WhQcV6dsz_k_x_nDvlSp&amp;index=15">Anne-Marie Hermansson can be found here</a>.<br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Jan-Olof YxellTue, 20 Dec 2016 13:00:00 +0100 for a green future awarded with grants<p><b>​Two researchers at BIO, Johan Larsbrink and Nikolaos Xafenias, received Formas’ start-up grants for future research leaders. And Johan Larsbrink really got a full house, as he received the corresponding grant from the Swedish Research Council as well.</b></p><p>​Research to take further steps towards a fossil-free society. That is the basis for the applications that awarded Nikolaos Xafenias and Johan Larsbrink – both from the Division of Industrial Biotechnology – grants from Formas, each worth one million SEK per year for three years.<br />– This means I can lead my own research line within the division, Nikolaos Xafenias explains.<br /><br />Xafenias’ project involves converting waste and by-products from bioprocesses, to &quot;green&quot; products. Some background: Biorefineries, in which fuels and other chemicals are produced from biomass instead of crude oil, are a great way of moving production away from using fossil raw materials. But for biorefineries to succeed – and be truly environmentally friendly – we need to exploit the vast amounts of carbon dioxide and other carbonaceous residues that are co-produced.<br /><br />Nikolaos Xafenias wants to develop a technology to recycle this carbon, thus reducing the environmental impact. To do this, microbes that &quot;eat&quot; electricity from electrodes will be used. The microbes will be catalysts for the electrochemical conversions of waste products into alcohols, which are of value to the chemical and energy industries.<br />– This money will, among other things, support collaboration with other groups, Nikolaos Xafenias says.<br />– I have really competent partners: Jie Sun, Associate Professor at Chalmers Department MC2, who is working with graphene, and Professor Ieropoulos at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, who is working with bioelectrochemical systems.<br /><br />Johan Larsbrink will take a closer look at enzymes for efficient decomposition of biomass. So-called enzymatic hydrolysis – a chemical process in which enzymes cleave the major components of the biomass into small molecules – is the most viable option for the decomposition of forest and agricultural residues for conversion to biofuels. But it’s also one of the most costly steps in today’s processes. Enzymes with several so-called catalytic domains may make the process much more efficient, but they are rare. Johan Larsbrink wants to determine the potential of these existing enzymes, and also develop entirely new ones.<br /><br />But Johan Larsbrink did not only receive money from Formas. He also got a start-up grant from the Swedish Research Council, for 3,2 million SEK over a four year period.<br />– It feels a bit strange, it hasn’t completely sunk in yet. But it’s really great, of course, he says.<br />The Swedish Research Council is investing in his project to develop and make the bioprocess that converts biomass into fuels more efficient. In recent years, much effort has been put into creating consolidated bioprocesses, where one microorganism can simultaneously break down biomass, absorb the energy and also produce valuable substances. Most studies have been done on <em>E. coli</em> bacteria and yeast, but the results have not been good enough. Johan Larsbrink has instead chosen to look at other bacterial species, to create organisms with the perfect properties.<br />– The money from both Formas and the Swedish Research Council will go to two new positions in my group. I already have two post docs, and good international and Swedish research connections that I will continue to work with, Johan Larsbrink says.<br /><br />In order to get the grants, the research projects need to meet certain criteria. They are measured not only by the scientific level – scientific issue, expertise and methodology – but also on the potential use for society.<br />– The fact that we received the grants not only shows that we as researchers are considered qualified, but also that our projects are considered promising and interesting, Nikolaos Xafenias says, and Johan Larsbrink adds:<br />– Our projects are in the bioenergy area. It’s a “hot” field right now, and very important from society’s standpoint. Furthermore, it is also important to show that you have good collaborations. Research is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary – it’s no longer possible to work in your own bubble.<br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Martina Butorac<br /></p>Tue, 20 Dec 2016 10:00:00 +0100 Mentors2Research participants won prizes<p><b>​The Mentors2Research program of 2016 is now finished. Three participants won prizes for their journeys from research to utilisation. A new program starts in January, and has had many applicants.</b></p>​Nine researchers participated during this year’s Mentors2Research, M2R. The program is aimed at established Chalmers researchers, and focuses on turning research into utilisation. Each participant is matched with a mentor from the business sector. The goal is new insights and expanded network, and a number of goals were set at the beginning of the year for each researcher.<br />– We have had an exciting year. The scientists have been working actively with their mentors, and they all have been through an exciting journey, says Björn Sjöholm, project manager.<br /><br />Three participants won prizes for their efforts: Göran Johansson, professor at the Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience, and Dina Petranovic and Elin Esbjörner, Associate Professor and Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering.<br />– This is of course subjective, but I would say that Göran perhaps made the longest journey. He has really broadened his understanding of utilisation. Dina and Elin knew a lot about utilisation to start with, but from a research perspective. Now they are able to see these questions from a different standpoint and have developed their network, Björn Sjöholm says.<br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/göran%20johansson.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br />Göran Johansson believes he, as a basic researcher with little experience of utilisation in the form of start-up companies and patents, has traveled ”at least 1000 times the initial distance”.<br />– And the jury obviously didn’t disagree. I broadened my network considerably. Previously I mostly knew people who worked in companies. Getting to know people who own, run and finance companies really broadened my view of how society works!<br /><br />Dina Petranovic thinks she won the prize because she set ambitious plans, worked hard and grabbed the opportunity to learn new things, leaving no stone unturned. Yet, she was surprised to win.<br />– There were so many interesting people, with cool ideas and plans, she says.<br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/dina.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br />– I learned so much, for example that utilisation is not the same thing as innovation, which is not the same thing as patenting. I also learned how much time, energy and money certain things take, and how to evaluate what is worth it and what is not. Also, this was a great opportunity to do a personal journey, to learn about ourselves, how we work, what we do, why we do it. I think the insights I have developed will be valuable for a long time. <br /><br />After finishing the M2R program, Elin Esbjörner now have two ongoing collaborations with companies; one of them has already resulted in a manuscript that will be submitted for publication shortly.<br />– I am grateful for what I have learnt and how much I could develop with support of M2R and my mentor. But of course I am also happy for the prize, and I am curious what I might learn from it: it is a cash contribution to participate in any utilisation conference during 2017. This will be a new experience for me, she says.<br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/Elin.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br />– I found that my knowledge is valuable to industry, sometimes in unexpected ways. I also experienced that collaboration with industry enriches my own core research and creates synergy.<br /><br />The 2017 M2R program will start shortly, and 20 applicants have registered. Björn Sjöholm is interviewing all candidates and pick out the participants based on, among other things, their commitment. And the program is undoubtedly a great success:<br />– The participants have rated the mentors, and they got an average of 8.7 on a scale of ten. Each year we also have a 24 hours workshop, and the workshop always gets 10 out of 10. It’s so great to work with these smart people and take part of their commitment, Björn Sjöholm says.<br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Pictures, from top: Göran Johansson, Dina Petranovic, Elin EsbjörnerThu, 15 Dec 2016 10:00:00 +0100 to summarize 2016<p><b>​The year 2016 is almost over. Ivan Mijakovic, Director of the Life Science Engineering Area of Advance, gives us his thoughts about this past year as well as the coming.</b></p>​&quot;The Chalmers Area of Advance Life Science Engineering underwent some important structural changes in the beginning of 2016, getting an entirely new leadership. I am particularly proud of the management team we have built, with director, co-director and profile leaders representing six different departments. This sends out a strong message that our Area of Advance is inclusive for all Chalmers researchers. Only by working together we can hope to successfully tackle the important challenges in the field.<br /><br />We have supported a number of events in 2016, two of which stand out. The initiative seminar on healthy ageing, organized in collaboration with Molecular Frontiers, set a new standard in bringing top international science to Chalmers and opening up our university to younger audiences. Another important event was the presentation and discussion of a study on gender equality, organized by the Chalmers association Women in Science (WiSE), and supported by three Chalmers Areas of Advance: Life Science Engineering, Information and Communication technologies and Building Futures. I am particularly proud of the outcome of this event, which highlight the determination of Chalmers to ensure equal treatment for all its employees, exterminate all forms of discrimination, and provide a working environment in which everyone can thrive.<br /><br />Finally, our Area of Advance committed to an important new initiative to promote collaborations across different departments, focused on excellence in research and innovation. We have “seeded” four excellent new projects, and I am certain that we will see them grow and blossom in the New Year.<br /><br />In 2017 we expect to foster more collaborative projects at Chalmers, and we are working very hard on increasing the impact that our science has on the society. Our commitment is to work together with our industrial, academic and other partners towards a sustainable and healthy future.&quot;<br /><br />Ivan Mijakovic<br /><br />Photo: Martina ButoracWed, 14 Dec 2016 13:00:00 +0100 behaviour of cells<p><b>​​To understand how our body works it is very important to understand the nature of the cells and why they behave like they do. Adele Khavari at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering presents her PhD thesis where she has investigated how cells interact in different microenvironments.</b></p><p><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Centrum/SuMo/Adele_Khavari.jpg" alt="" style="height:164px;width:125px;margin:5px 10px" /></p> <p><strong>What forces are interacting with the cells?<br /></strong>Cells are exposed to diverse forces including compression and tension from the neighbouring cells, fluid shear stress, hydrostatic and osmotic pressure, and the stiffness of the extracellular matrix.  <br /> <br /><strong>What is mechanotransduction?</strong><br />Cells sense the mechanical stimuli from their environments, and then convert them to biochemical responses through a process called mechanotransduction. In mechanotransduction there are dozens of mechanisms. Most of these interactions have similar underlying principle. Stress or strain typically induces conformational and/or organizational changes to the sensing unit, which can be a protein or an ion channel. Their structural changes regulate binding organization, or ion flow, which ultimately influence cell function. <br /> <br /><strong>You study cancer cells, benign and metastatic in this project. Does your work contribute to cancer research?<br /></strong>Definitely, we don’t know what the most important mechanical driving force for metastasis is, however, we know that the cells and the environment mechanically change a lot in the case of cancer. One of my work contribution is to design a device to be used in cancer diagnosis and also to understand the role of mechanics in the metastasis. <br /> <br /><strong>Describe this micro world in which the cells interact in your thesis. Why did you use polymer gels for your research? <br /></strong>As I mentioned before cells are exposed to different forces and one of them is the stiffness of the extracellular matrix. In my thesis I have used different polymer gels to create mechanically relevant environments for the cells. By doing this we are able to understand how the mechanics of the microenvironment influence the cell function.  <br /> <br /><em><strong>What did you find about the interaction between the cells and the polymer gels? <br /></strong></em>To summarize, I learned that the mechanical properties of the gel (extracellular matrix) influence both growth and migration. In the case of metastatic breast cancer my experiment showed that higher mechanical properties of the gel induce more growth and the cells generate more power. <br /> <br /><strong>How has your cooperation with SuMo been working for you? <br /></strong>I think it is always good to interact with scientist from both industry and academy, SuMo provide such an environment.  </p>Thu, 08 Dec 2016 00:00:00 +0100 on academic careers presented<p><b>​Women and men experience their doctoral studies at Chalmers in similar ways, according to a new study. Stress, difficulties in finding a role and an elitist environment is seen as negative, while teaching, independence and research are perceived as positive.</b></p>​The study carried out by Helena Stensöta, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg, was presented in RunAn on December 1. The report was initiated by WiSE, and implemented with the support of the Areas of Advance Life Science Engineering, Information and Communication Technology and Building Futures.<br /><img width="300" height="228" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/WiSE_Sara%20Hun%20Helena%20Stensöta.JPG" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br />Behind it lies the skewed distribution of faculty positions between men and women at Chalmers – an uneven distribution that increases higher up the career ladder.<br /><br />– Our goal was to illustrate the selection mechanisms, and understand what the PhD students perceive as positives and negatives of being at Chalmers. We also wanted to see how the relationship between student and supervisor influences the experience, Helena Stensöta explains.<br /><br />The study is based on in-depth interviews with 18 PhD students – men and women, with shorter or longer time at Chalmers – and four supervisors, randomly selected at four departments: Mathematical Sciences, Computer Science and Engineering, Applied IT, and Signals and Systems.<br /><img width="350" height="206" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/WiSE-1Dec2016_SOLar2.jpg" alt="" style="height:176px;width:300px;margin:5px" /><br />According to the study, the differences between men and women are small. PhD students talk about the happiness of teaching and of digging deeper into research issues that could make a difference. But they also talk about stress, difficulties to find a role in a homogeneous environment, unclear expectations and elitism that sometimes makes it difficult to ask questions. They think, however, that Chalmers is &quot;better than other places&quot; on issues such as hierarchy.<br /><br />To manage stress, planning is necessary according to the PhD students. They also mention the importance of having a good balance between work and leisure.<br />When it comes to more general questions about the pros and cons of academic careers, the interviewed mentioned the large investment required as well as the difficulties of combining a career with family life. And again, the observed differences in responses from men and women were small.<br /><img width="300" height="227" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/WiSE-Sabine.JPG" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br />– There’s a lot to discuss, like how the organization could benefit from the fact that PhD students like to teach, or if it really makes sense that everyone should be able to do everything; do research as well as teach and apply for grants. One may also ask how an environment can help people do their best without lapsing into elitism that instead risks excluding people and thus effect the performance negatively, Helena Stensöta says.<br />– A natural follow-up study would be to ask similar questions to people higher up the academic career, such as Assistant Professors.<br /><img width="350" height="258" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/WiSE-1Dec2016_Helena.jpg" alt="" style="height:218px;width:300px;margin:5px" /><br />The small differences between men and women in the study suggest that general tools can be used to make an academic career more attractive, which is consistent with the equal opportunities policy at Chalmers. Chalmers President Stefan Bengtsson, who both opened the seminar and later commented on the results, see gender balance in academia as very important:<br />– We can now see a more equitable distribution among our students, but even so, this will not dissolve by itself. The government has given us goals to reach, and we have reached them. I welcome the pressure from outside, he said.<br />– We need to understand how people look at their time here, and the doctoral level is important to investigate. We know that we are recruiting from a narrow base, socioeconomically too. If we want to get better, we need to attract talents from all groups.<br /><img width="300" height="220" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/WiSE-Mingel.JPG" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br />The seminar was concluded with a panel discussion. Johanna Andersson, Chalmers equality representative, said she recognizes the study's results as true for large parts of Chalmers, but there are also extensive variations between departments. Helena Stensöta agreed:<br />– It is important to take care of the problems in different ways in different environments, and the government’s general requirements can thus become a problem. So yes, adapting this to the various department’s would be desired, but don’t adapt to differences between men and women because they have similar thoughts about his work.<br /><img width="350" height="241" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/Diskussion.JPG" alt="" style="height:210px;width:300px;margin:5px" /><br />The audiences had so many questions that they could not all be answered, but moderator Moyra McDill read them all out loud. Johanna Andersson then summed up a number of points to bring back to the desk.<br />Ivan Mijakovic, Director of the Life Science Engineering Area of Advance, commented afterwards:<br />– The study now presented does not mean that we have reached an endpoint. On the contrary, this is just the beginning. We want to continue and do more, expand and explore more areas.<br /><img width="350" height="221" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/WiSE-1Dec2016_panel-hel.jpg" alt="" style="height:191px;width:300px;margin:5px" /><br /><a href="">Download the report here!</a><br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photos: Malin Ulfvarson, Mia Malmstedt<br /><br />Photos, from top to bottom: <div>Chalmers' President Stefan Bengtsson.</div> <div>Sara Hun and Helena Stensöta did the study.<br />Area of Advance director Ivica Crnkovic from ICT, profile leader Bijan Adl-Zarrabi from Building Futures and Area of Advance director Ivan Mijakovic from Life Science Engineering.<br />Sabine Reinfeldt, Project leader at WiSE.<br />Helena Stensöta.<br />Stefan Bengtsson talking to Leif Åhman, Karolina Partheen and Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede.<br />Helena Stensöta in discussions during the coffee break.</div> <div>The panel: Johanna Andersson, Sofia Månsson, Onur Kaya, Helena Stensöta and Lennart Svensson.</div>Tue, 06 Dec 2016 14:00:00 +0100 Nature’s own scissors<p><b>​Swedish forests can be used for the production of fuels or sustainable materials. But the structure of wood is recalcitrant and hard to decompose. Jenny Arnling Bååth’s research is on enzymes, that might help make wood more accessable for production of new materials.</b></p>​Forestry materials can be used to make bioethanol, biochemicals, textiles or materials to replace composites and plastics. In other words: Our Swedish forests are a gold mine for the production of sustainable alternatives.<br /><br />But there are some difficulties. One is the recalcitrance of wood – it’s very hard to decompose.<br /><br />Wood consists of three elements: Cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose. The cellulose is the core, while lignin and hemicellulose form a net and a glue that will protect the tree in its natural environment. <br />If the tree is completely decomposed we get simple sugars, which is used for the production of ethanol. But the different parts – the polymers – in wood can also be used for different things, and there is much to gain by cutting different bonds between the different wood polymers. Maybe we want to extract just the lignin, or just the hemicellulose, instead of decomposing it all into a mixture of the smallest building bricks.<br /><br />Jenny Arnling Bååth, a PhD student at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, is working with enzymes. Enzymes are nature’s own scissors, and cut bonds to help dissolve wood polymers, as well as making the food’s nutrients available in our stomachs. Jenny Arnling Bååth was recently able to show that a certain enzyme, glucuronoyl esterase, is able to cleave a specific bond in the so called lignin-carbohydrate complex. Her research might therefore pave the way for effective and intact extraction of wood polymers in industrial processes.<br />– We knew that this enzyme can cleave the bonds in model substrates, that is, in simplified chemicals or molecules. This time we grinded wood into a powder, processed it and got lignin and hemicellulose in pure fractions, she says.<br />– Our research is the first to show that this enzyme can actually cut the bonds in real substrate from wood. We have worked on this for a long time. It takes luck and time to succeed.<br /><br />The use of enzymes in industrial production is also environmental friendly. Without these natural scissors the wood will need treatment at high temperatures or with chemicals that are potentially dangerous. Furthermore, the enzymes only preform one task – the reactions will always remain controlled.<br />– We don’t know the impact of enzymes in industrial applications yet. Now we want to focus on gaining further knowledge; we want to know more about their resistance when it comes to things like pH or temperatures, and we also want to characterize them – what they do, how fast, and their similarities in regards to structure and function.<br /><br />The findings of Jenny Arnling Bååth is a result of the collaborations within Wallenberg Wood Science Center (read a separate article about the center here) which means that she has been able to perform analyses at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. She praises the benefits of the center:<br />– We work closely together with scientists from different disciplines. As biochemists, we look at enzymes, while other groups work with the same questions but from different angles. A person specialized in Wood Chemistry and a biochemist is not the same. It’s nice to keep on working together.<br /><br />Read more <a href="/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Working-together-to-strengthen-science.aspx">about the Wallenberg Wood Science Center here</a>.<br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Martina Butorac<br />Wed, 30 Nov 2016 16:00:00 +0100 together to strengthen science<p><b>​Wallenberg Wood Science Center has spent the last eight years connecting researchers at Chalmers and KTH. The collaborations have promoted advanced research on materials from trees. Next step: a national research platform.</b></p><p>​Sweden is immensely rich on forests. But with modern digitalization, pulp is no longer a big seller and the forest industry is in need of new areas to target. At the same time, there’s an increasing need for sustainable solutions and alternatives to oil based products. Intense research is made to find efficient ways of producing materials from wood, thus replacing oil based materials like conventional plastic.<br /><br />Wallenberg Wood Science Center (WWSC) is a joint research center involving Chalmers and KTH. WWSC was started in 2009, with 120 million SEK from Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, which had made a specific call for research on raw materials from Swedish forests.<br /></p> <p><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/IndBio/Skogen_Lisbeth.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" />– All the universities got to apply and in the end there were just two left, Chalmers and KTH. And then the foundation announced they wanted to support a joint research center instead, says Lisbeth Olsson, Professor at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering and one of the leading forces behind WWSC.<br />– In this way, we got a gathering of scientists that would not have come together otherwise. WWSC is a unique collaboration within our field, and we have created an interdisciplinary research environment.<br /><br />At present, WWSC also gathers researchers from other universities, as well as industry. PhD students from KTH and Chalmers get together twice a year for a week-long research school, where they network and build a community as well as work interdisciplinary.<br />– The PhD students get to know other active scientists and meet different competences. They also get access to research infrastructures at the different facilities involved. Our PhD’s frequently go to Stockholm to do analyzes, Lisbeth Olsson says.<br /><br />Plans for the next step – a new researcher platform that will continue the work of WWCS – was announced earlier this fall. Swedish forest industries and the government are planning to finance the platform, when it is up and running, with 250-300 million SEK each year. The goal is to create a long-term powerful research platform with focus in biobased materials and chemicals from wood, with focus on unique research as well as new competences and education.<br />– The national platform will be open and accessible, an interdisciplinary venue that will gather both academia and industry, Lisbeth Olsson concludes.<br /><br />Read more about the <a href="/sv/nyheter/Sidor/Nyskogsforskningsplattform.aspx">new research platform here </a>(in Swedish only). <br />Read more about the <a href="/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Enzymes-Natures-own-scissors.aspx">research made in Wallenberg Wood Science Center here</a>.<br />Link to <a href="">article in Ny teknik </a>(Swedish).  <br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Anna-Lena Lundqvist<br /></p>Wed, 30 Nov 2016 13:00:00 +0100 Fed Lipid in Uppsala<p><b>​The big Euro Fed Lipid Congress will visit Sweden in August. The broad conference covers all aspects of lipid research: from different production systems to analysis, health aspects and applications in pharma, food, biofuels and technical fields.</b></p><p>​Ingrid Undeland, Professor at the division of Food and Nutrition Science and this year’s Congress chair, wants to promote the 15th Euro Fed Lipid Congress. <br />– The theme is <em>Oil, Fats and Lipids – New Technologies and Applications for a healthier life</em>. It suits many of our researchers here at Chalmers extremely well, she says.<br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Areas%20of%20Advance/Livsvetenskaper/cfp_uppsala_2017_Page_1.jpg" alt="" style="height:476px;width:333px;margin:5px" /><br />The fact that the conference this time is held in Uppsala – on August 27-30 – means that the European Federation for the Science and Technology of Lipids (Euro Fed Lipid) is in collaboration with Nordic Lipidforum, where Ingrid Undeland holds the chair between 2015 and 2017.<br />– We want to highlight Swedish lipid research when the congress visits Sweden. The arrangement usually attracts somewhere between 500 and 1000 participants, and offers multiple parallel sessions. In Uppsala, the Nordic Lipidforum is also offering the Lipid Forum Academy for the fifth time. It’s a four-days-course in Lipid Science and Technology, held on the days before the congress. The course is for PhD students and industry representatives that want an overview of the lipid research area.<br /><br />For more information, please visit the <a href="">congress website</a>.<br />Questions? Send an email to <a href=""></a><br /><br /><strong>Facts: Deadlines</strong><br />Lecture Abstracts: 3 February 2017<br />Poster abstracts to be included in the printed program/ last minute lectures: 21 February<br />Poster abstracts to be included in the book of abstracts: 1 July<br />Registration is not yet opened.<br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Martina Butorac</p>Tue, 29 Nov 2016 11:00:00 +0100 research to protect plants<p><b>​Destruction of food – like rotting fruit or moldy vegetables – is a huge problem worldwide. In order to have enough food for everyone we need to find ways to protect plants. A small but important enzyme may play a key role, according to research.</b></p>​The enzymes called LPMOs (or Lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases) was discovered half a decade ago, and is today commercialized for industrial saccharification of agricultural residues such as straw. As LPMOs are important in the decomposition process, the understanding of their function can lead to more efficient production of bioethanol from cellulose (read more about this <a href="">in the journal Biochemical Society Transactions </a>and also <a href="/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/From-Denmark-to-Sweden-for-the-sake-of-bioethanol.aspx">at the Chalmers website</a>.) <br /><br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/IndBio/Katja_220.jpg" alt="" style="height:162px;width:165px;margin:5px" />Katja Salomon Johansen, Associate Professor at Copenhagen University, was until recently a guest researcher in the Chalmers Industrial Biotechnology division, working with Professor Lisbeth Olsson, and is still engaged by the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering. She takes a special interest in LPMOs, and her research was recently published in the journal Trends in Plant Science.<br />– This paper informs plant scientists about the potential impact of these enzymes on food security, she says.<br /><br />All of our food comes from plants, one way or the other. Either we eat the crops ourselves, or they are used as feed for animals that end up on our plates. To ensure enough food for a growing population, in line with the UN sustainability goals, we need efficient and sustainable farming with a minimum amount of food waste. And to get there, we need new ways of protecting the plants from microbes under and above ground.<br />– The plants are always in contact with microbes. Some causes diseases and will reduce the harvest. Other microbes work in a beneficial way for the plants, Katja Salomon Johansen explains.<br />Researchers have now shown that LPMOs are important for the efficiency of interaction between microbes and plants. The enzymes are secreted by a large number of microorganisms to initiate infection and degradation processes.<br />– This means that we might reduce disease if we could deploy an inhibitor against the LPMOs. Perhaps – I’m just speculating – we could find a natural inhibitor to spray over the harvest to protect it.<br />But there is still a long way to go. Katja Salomon Johansen’s review has spawn several new scientific questions.<br />– Plant scientists are a new crowd that are probably not aware of these enzymes at all. I wanted to raise the awareness, she says.<br /><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/IndBio/Trplsc_21-11%20cover_300.png" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br />The article in Trends of Plant Science also touches on the impact of LPMOs on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.<br />– This article is the outcome of my work at Chalmers, I wrote it all there. And the figure that ended up on the first page was a result of the funding I got from the Västra Götalands Region, so this is all linked to my work in Gothenburg, Katja Salomon Johansen says.<br />– This is one of the top journals in its area. To make the front page made me very happy.<br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Tue, 29 Nov 2016 10:00:00 +0100