News: Bioteknikhttp://www.chalmers.se/sv/nyheterNews related to Chalmers University of TechnologyTue, 18 Dec 2018 17:15:05 +0100http://www.chalmers.se/sv/nyheterhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Possible-new-foods-from-beer-production-left-overs.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Possible-new-foods-from-beer-production-left-overs.aspxPossible new foods from beer production left-overs<p><b>​The left-overs from beer production – spent grains – contain a high amount of fibers and protein, and could be the basis of new foods. But today, the spent grain often goes to waste, or at best to animal feed. Researchers are now trying to change this.</b></p>​Swedes drink more and more beer. In the year 2016, 263 million liters of Swedish beer was produced, and microbreweries have been popping up everywhere, in particular in Gothenburg.<br /><br /><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/IndBio/IMG_3874_340.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="Picture of product from spent grain" style="margin:5px;width:220px;height:220px" />As we brew more beer, there is a growing opportunity to take advantage of the spent grain. Swedish breweries produce over 50 000 tons of spent grain, annually. Today, this sidestream is viewed as waste, although it contains more than 50 percent fibers and about 20 percent protein, and could make the basis for excellent and nutritious foods.<br /><br /><strong>More to animal feed in 2018</strong><br />“Small breweries are paying for someone to come and remove the spent grain. They would like it to be used as animal feed, but it’s tricky and a logistical challenge”, says Joshua Mayers, researcher at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, who is now aiming to take a closer look at these processes, together with researchers from RISE and representatives from both food- and brewery industries.<br /><br />In a first project, headed by Chalmers Industriteknik, the researchers map out the lifecycle of the spent grain, prerequisites for a new way of handling this raw material, and the breweries’ interest in making change happen.<br /><br />”The really big breweries have solved this issue by selling their spent grain as animal feed, or using it as biofuel in their own production plants. This year we could also observe an increase in the amount of spent grain going to animal feed, even at the smaller breweries. We believe this to be a result of the summer's drought; farmers are in need of alternative feed. This solution benefits both farmers and breweries, who then don’t pay for disposal”, Max Björkman at Chalmers Industriteknik explains, and Joshua Mayers adds:<br /><br />“The smaller players don’t really have a long-term plan. But we think a change will come. We also see a big interest in developing foods from spent grain. There are many projects going on in the United States and even within Europe – Sweden, however, is falling behind.”<br /><br /><strong>Cereals, flour or meat replacement</strong><br />Spent grain has previously been used in Sweden in a few small scale projects with flour, for example in pizza dough, but there’s a huge variety of possible uses. Spent grain could be used as an ingredient in energy bars or breakfast cereals. It could also replace potato or corn starch, be puffed into cheese doodle-like products, or even become a replacement for meat and soy products.<br /><br />”The raw material might not have the same taste, but the nutrition value is certainly higher as it contains less carbohydrates, and more protein and fibers”, Joshua Mayers says.<br /><br />An investment might be needed by the breweries to make use of the spent grain, but they could also save money on disposal while producing a new product. First of all, however, logistics and handling of spent grain – which have a high water content and spoil quickly – must be solved. The researchers also want to look more closely at the spent grain’s effect on the texture of a product, as well as the taste.<br /><br /><strong>An interest in alternative solutions</strong><br />“We know that spent grain could be used, but there’s a lot of questions to answer. There are challenges – but we also know that there’s a big interest in solving this”, Joshua Mayers summarizes, and gets support from Erika Brockberg, Head of Quality Control at the brewery Poppels:<br /><br />“Spent grain makes up a vast majority of our overall waste, so being able to dispose of it in a reliable and responsible way is important. We currently donate our spent grain to be used as animal feed, but if that plan ever got interrupted, it would stop the flow of brewing, put our whole production schedule at risk, and quickly become an expensive problem to solve. We’re glad to be contributing to this project and we're excited to see what alternative solutions are out there.”<br /><br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photos: Picture of Chalmers students having a beer, Fredrik Åvall/CFFC.se. Picture of product from spent grain, Sophia Wassén at RISE.Tue, 18 Dec 2018 14:00:00 +0100https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Awarded-for-detection-of-cancer-from-blood-samples.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Awarded-for-detection-of-cancer-from-blood-samples.aspxAwarded for detection of cancer from blood samples<p><b>​His blood analysis could detect several different cancer types at an early stage, when the sickness may be effectively treated. For this work, Francesco Gatto is now rewarded as an “Innovator Under 35” by MIT Technology Review.</b></p>​Cancer is mainly diagnosed and monitored using medical imaging techniques such as x-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans. The tests are expensive and could cause harm to patients in the long run. Therefore, these techniques are not to be used to often, which in turn leads to the risk of missing out on an opportunity for early diagnosis.<br /><br /><strong>Metabolites reveal sickness</strong><br /><br />Using a blood or urine sample, it is now possible to test for early detection of cancer – or cancer relapse – much more frequently, opening up options for optimal treatment. Tests like these are today in place for a few types of cancer. Francesco Gatto, guest researcher and alumnus at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers, is developing the analysis of blood metabolites – small molecules that reflect a fundamental process of growth in tumour cells – to recognize a larger variety of cancer forms. For this he is now named as an “Innovator Under 35” along with 34 fellow European innovators.<br /><br />&quot;It is a big honor. At first, I did not fully grasp the magnitude of this. But then, when the news went public, the reaction was quite overwhelming&quot;, he says.<br />&quot;The award acknowledges the work of innovators in driving high risk/high impact projects for our society, and is assigned by a distinguished jury assembled by MIT Technology Review.&quot;<br /><br /><strong>Mission: To save lifes</strong><br /><br />In 2017, Francesco Gatto together with Professor Jens Nielsen founded the company Elypta, a spin-off company to Chalmers that is also in close collaboration with the university. Elypta’s mission is to prevent mortality from cancer by developing their liquid biopsy platform for detection as well as monitoring the disease, since the findings also show responses to treatments. The approach is based on the measurement of 19 biomarkers, identified during Francesco Gatto’s doctoral studies at Chalmers, and use of machine learning algorithms to generate a biomarker score, tailored to identify cancer-type specific signatures.<br /><br />&quot;We have now completed over five clinical studies to show exceptional accuracy, not only in our main indication – renal cell carcinoma – but also in multiple other forms of cancer&quot;, Francesco Gatto says, and adds the Elypta is planning to release the diagnostic test for research use in 2019, and activate two multicenter trials in 2020.<br />&quot;There is a lot of evidence to suggest that early detection reduces mortality, which, at the end of the day, is the only thing that matters&quot;, he concludes.<br /><br />Paloma Cabello, member of the jury of “Innovators Under 35” in 2018, comments that Francesco Gatto stands out for his “technical brilliance, creativity, and focus on the transference and implementation capacity”. <br /><br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Martina ButoracThu, 06 Dec 2018 16:00:00 +0100https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Seaweed-a-possible-source-for-sustainable-materials-and-foods.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Seaweed-a-possible-source-for-sustainable-materials-and-foods.aspxSeaweed a possible source for future products<p><b>​How can we use the seaweed growing along our coastlines? Researchers at BIO have now found a new tool for making nutrients and sugars available, to be used for pharmaceutical production, as well as foods or in chemical production.</b></p>​Seaweeds grow abundantly, and are relatively little affected by harmful environmental impact, along Swedish coasts. At the same time, there is a huge demand for sustainable foods, alternative food sources and new sources for a biological production of fuels and chemicals.<br /><br />As part of a larger project, funded by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, researchers at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering took a closer look at the green seaweed <em>Ulva lactuca</em>, also known as sea lettuce.<div><br /></div> <div><strong>Suitable for foods and pharmaceuticals</strong><br /><br />“<em>Ulva </em>biomass consists of a full range of various biomolecules. The quality of <em>Ulva </em>and its subsequent applications greatly depend on the waters in which it is grown. As the western Swedish coastline is to a large extent free of toxic metals and pollutants, the <em>Ulva </em>biomass that we obtain from these sea waters is suitable for food and medical applications,” says Venkat Rao Konasani, a postdoc at the division of Industrial Biotechnology, and continues:<br /><br />“<em>Ulva </em>biomass from the algal blooms that are found in eutrophicated waters, rich in phosphorous, pollutants and toxic metals, is not suitable for food. However, this algal bloom biomass would be a good choice for bio-energy applications.”<br /><br />In <em>Ulva</em>, there’s a carbohydrate and polysaccharide called ulvan, which is rather different to anything found on land. Ulvan has features that make it relatively easy to dissolve, compared to most other polysaccharides.<br /><br />“We also find more unusual and interesting sugars. They could be used as building blocks in a chemical synthesis to make heparin, a drug used to treat blood clots, thereby providing an alternative to heparin produced from animal sources. They could also, for example, be used as a starter molecule for flavors, or for the production of sustainable materials,” says Associate Professor Eva Albers.</div> <div><br /><strong>Enzymes to open up the cell wall</strong><br /><br />To use the nutrients and sugars found in seaweed, they must first be recovered. Seaweed consist of cells, with cell walls containing – among other things – the ulvan. The researchers aim to find ways of opening up the cell wall structure, as mildly as possible. Using enzymes has proved both efficient and environmentally friendly. Recently, the research group at BIO identified a completely new and promising subgroup of the enzyme group ulvan lyase, which cleaves the ulvan.<br /><br />“Two subgroups are earlier described, and we have found a third. We have also been able to describe yet another enzyme of one of the other subgroups, which comes from the same bacteria. Our findings give us new ways of processing biomass for industrial purposes,” Eva Albers says.<br /><br />The new enzyme subgroup is also shown to have an unexpected advantage; it is naturally present in two groups of bacteria, found in our gastric/intestinal tract.</div> <div><br /><strong>Possible to digest</strong><br /><br />“Researchers ask the question: Could we eat seaweed? Is it possible for us to take advantage of seaweed’s nutritional value? Our findings indicate that we can probably digest and absorb nutrients from seaweed, with help of our own intestinal bacteria breaking the cell walls. In other words, seaweed could possibly serve as a new, future source of nutrition,” Eva Albers says, and Venkat Rao Konasani concludes:<br /><br />“This finding brings forward the potential of <em>Ulva </em>and opens for new commercial high-value applications of the algae biomass which is abundant in Swedish coastal waters, and otherwise unused.”<br /><br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Martina Butorac</div>Thu, 22 Nov 2018 17:00:00 +0100https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Jens-Nielsen-new-CEO-of-BioInnovation-Institute.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Jens-Nielsen-new-CEO-of-BioInnovation-Institute.aspxJens Nielsen new CEO of Bioinnovation Institute<p><b>​Professor Jens Nielsen has been given the position as new Director of the Danish Bioinnovation Institute, situated in Copenhagen, starting on 1 February.“This will give new opportunities to Chalmers, too”, he says.</b></p>​Bioinnovation Institute, BII, is established by Novo Nordisk Foundation to create a Danish start-up environment. At the institute, basic research will be transformed into practical use, in solutions or products that combat disease, improve health or conserve natural resources. BII also works as an incubator for start-up companies within the biotech area.<br /><br />&quot;It was simply not possible to miss out on this opportunity! The idea to build a completely new institute with focus on the translation of research and on innovation, as well as supporting spin-out of new biotech companies, is very exciting&quot;, says Jens Nielsen.<br /><br />Throughout his career, he has aimed to bridge top-level basic science with translation and innovation, and he has also started several companies.<br />&quot;BII is fully in line with my skills and interests, so having the opportunity to harvest on all that I have learned over the years will be fantastic.&quot;<br /><br />Even though the new positions means moving back to Denmark, Nielsen is optimistic when it comes to the consequences for Chalmers:<br />&quot;This will give new opportunities to BIO and thus to Chalmers. BII does not have basic research, and will therefore rely on solid collaborations with universities. In my new role as CEO I intend to establish close interactions with Scandinavian universities that have a strong position in life sciences, to further strengthen the innovation and competitive environment in Scandinavia.&quot;<br /><br />Jens Nielsen will keep his research group at the Division of Systems and Synthetic Biology at Chalmers.<br /><br />&quot;Yes, I will maintain my Chalmers affiliation with 100 percent focus on running the research group, that is, continue my supervision of my many PhD students and post docs.&quot;<br /><br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Novo Nordisk Foundation<br />Wed, 31 Oct 2018 16:00:00 +0100https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/New-research-recovers-nutrients-from-seafood-process-water.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/New-research-recovers-nutrients-from-seafood-process-water.aspxRecovers nutrients from seafood process water<p><b>Process waters from the seafood industry contain valuable nutrients, that could be used in food or aquaculture feed. But the process waters are treated as waste. Researchers now show the potential of recycling these nutrients back into the food chain.</b></p>​During preparation of herring, shrimps and mussels, large amounts of process water are continuously pumped out as waste by the seafood industry. The water is used when boiling shrimps or mussels, or when filleting, salting and marinating herring, for example. Approximately 7000-8000 liters of water is used to prepare a ton of marinated herring. A stunning 50,000 liters of water is needed per ton of peeled shrimps, or per three tons of raw shrimp.<br /><br />But these side stream waters contain proteins, peptides, fats and micronutrients, which could be recycled and used, for example by the food industry, as an ingredient in feed or for growing microalgae. In fact, the leftover boiled water from shrimp preparation is basically a ready-made stock.<br /><br /><strong>Nutrients could be recycled</strong><br />The Nordic project NoVAqua, coordinated by Professor Ingrid Undeland of the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, has now shown the potential of extracting these important nutrients from the process waters.<br /><br />”It’s very important to help the industry understand that the side streams don’t need to be wasted. Instead, they should be treated as really exciting raw material,” she says.<br /><br />“The backbone of our project is a circular approach. In the past, we had a more holistic view on handling of food raw materials, but today so much is lost in side streams. Furthermore, we are in the middle of a protein shift, and there’s a huge demand in society for alternative protein sources.”<br /><br />The research project started in 2015 with the aim to recover nutrients from seafood process waters and create innovative uses for them. A similar approach is already successfully implemented in the dairy industry, where the residual liquid from cheese making – whey – is used in sports nutrition, as well as in different food and feed products.<br /><br /><strong>Much of the protein in lost</strong><br />When the research team measured the composition of process waters, they found them to contain up to 7 percent protein and 2,5 percent fat. In process waters from shrimp, astaxanthin, a red pigment and antioxidant often used as a dietary supplement, was also present.<br /><br />”Our calculations show that in a primary processing plant for herring, as much as 15 percent of the herring protein coming in to the industry leached out into the water and was treated as waste, thereby lost,” Ingrid Undeland explains.<br /><br />Using a two-step process, the research team managed to recover up to 98 percent of the protein and 99 percent of the omega 3-rich fats. The process resulted in a semi-solid biomass and a nutrient-rich liquid. After dehydration, biomass from shrimp boiling water was shown to contain 66 percent protein and 25 percent fat. Two tests were made, together with the University of Gothenburg and Skretting ARC, using this new biomass as an ingredient in feed for salmon, and the results were encouraging.<br /><br />The nutritious liquid was used for glazing frozen fish, thereby protecting it from going rancid. It turned out to be slightly more protective than water, which is currently used for such glazing. The fluid was also tested as a substance for microalgae-cultivation and was shown to enhance the growth of two types of algae. The algae biomasses can subsequently be used as sources of protein or pigment.<br /><br /><strong>A need for investments</strong><br />All in all, the research project pointed out several different ways to recycle the nutrients which are currently lost in the process waters. The next step is implementation in the seafood industry.<br /><br />“A major challenges is to get the industry to manage the water side streams as food, beyond the stage when they are separated from the seafood product. Today, that is the point where the side streams start being handled as waste. This means there’s a need for new routines for cooling and hygiene,” says Ingrid Undeland.<br /><br />In Sweden, the waste waters are purified to some extent before they go out of the factories. This means that many seafood producers already have the flotation technology needed in the second step of side stream recycling. But there are also investments to be made, says Bita Forghani Targhi, a post-doctoral researcher at the division of Food and Nutrition Science and colleague to Undeland.<br /><br />“The main challenge would be cost-related issues,” she says.<br /><br /><strong>The start of a new project</strong><br />The work now continues within the new project AquaStream, funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. Bita Forghani Targhi points out that an important next step will include consulting with local businesses, interviewing them on generated side streams and verifying the current nutrient loss through a primary characterisation of process waters. She has a positive outlook on the future:<br /><br />“I am quite positive on the fact that related industries, sooner or later, will be implementing these techniques. With ever increasing awareness on the value of recycling nutrients, this facilitates industrial processes to adopt feasible approaches towards a circular economy.”<br /><br /><br /><strong>FACTS ABOUT THE NOVAQUA PROJECT:</strong><br />The projects full name is Extracting Novel Values from Aqueous Seafood Side Streams, or NoVAqua for short. The project was started in 2015 and closed in 2018, and was funded by Nordic Innovation. Partners involved alongside Chalmers included Räkor &amp; Laxgrossisten AB, Fisk Idag AB, SWEMARC at the University of Gothenburg, DTU Foods, Bio-Aqua and Skretting ARC. Research on algae cultivation was done in collaboration with the researchers Eva Albers and Joshua Mayers at Industrial Biotechnology at Chalmers. Scandic Pelagic AB and Klädesholmen Seafood AB were also affiliated to the project, and play an important role in the new AquaStream project.<br /><br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Johan Bodell, and private<br />Wed, 31 Oct 2018 09:00:00 +0100https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/WWSC-recruits-17-employees.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/WWSC-recruits-17-employees.aspxWWSC recruits 17 employees<p><b>​WWSC is moving into the next phase. The research programme is now looking for 17 new employees – at the same time. “In WWSC, you will be involved in developing sustainable materials for the future”, says Professor Lisbeth Olsson.</b></p>​By the end of last year, Wallenberg Wood Science Center – WWSC – received further funding for its research on the production of sustainable materials from forest raw material. Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation then announced that they would continue to support the research programme, which then changed its name to WWSC 2.0, with up to 400 million SEK over the upcoming decade.<br /><br />Three universities – Chalmers University of Technology, KTH and Linköping University – invest a total of 22 million SEK per year in PhD positions and working hours. The forest industry also contribute an additional 100 million SEK over the ten-year period, channeled through the TreeSearch initiative, creating a research environment where more applied research is also conducted.<br /><br />Today, 17 positions on WWSC 2.0 are advertised. The positions are distributed over five Chalmers departments: Biology and Biological Engineering, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Physics, Industrial and Materials Science, and Microtechnology and Nanoscience.<br /><br />The research center, which became a world leader during the first ten years, seeks both doctoral students and post docs to contribute to the fundamental research conducted, and aimed at adding further knowledge to the production of new sustainable materials.<br /><br />”We have formed a new research programme and everything is in place. That’s why we are hiring as many as 17 people at the same time”, explains Lisbeth Olsson, Professor at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering where three positions are announced, and also the head of WWSC’s activities at Chalmers in the new programme.<br /><br />”In the first programme, we built a very strong research school, headed by Professor Paul Gatenholm here at Chalmers. We have developed an interesting multidisciplinary environment and a strong collaboration between Chalmers and KTH. The research programme has enabled research on new materials from the forest to be deepened, and has resulted in many new achievements and opportunities for applications.”<br /><br />WWSC offers the possibility to work in a unique research environment in close cooperation with the involved universities, with specialized equipment and the ability to participate in developing innovative and environmentally friendly materials from forest raw materials, according to Lisbeth Olsson.<br /><br />Read more <a href="http://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/research/industrial-biotechnology/Pages/WWSC-recruiting.aspx">about the recruitments here</a>!<br /><br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Johan Bodell<br />Thu, 11 Oct 2018 17:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/news/Pages/Investigating-the-causes-of-neurodegenerative-diseases-.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/news/Pages/Investigating-the-causes-of-neurodegenerative-diseases-.aspxInvestigating the causes of neurodegenerative diseases<p><b>We are living longer and longer and therefore more and more people are affected by neurodegenerative diseases. This year&#39;s William Chalmers honorary lecture was given by Professor Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede who has dedicated her career to finding the answers to how brains become ill – and she has already come a long way towards better understanding. ​</b></p><div><div>Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede first started to be interested in how key molecules in the body work when she herself was a doctoral student at Chalmers. While doing her postdoc in the USA, she began to investigate how proteins in the body fold to globular shapes in order to function. During the last decade she has become interested in ‘bad’ proteins, probing the reasons they fold incorrectly, start to ‘clump’ together, and thereby cause diseases. </div> <div> “I want to understand, at the molecular level, why proteins become prone to fold incorrectly, which clumps of misfolded proteins are dangerous, and how this kills cells. If we know this, we could be able to prevent and cure illnesses like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS,” she says. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700">The answer could lie in the gut</span></div> <div>Some of her discoveries connect to gut bacteria and what food we eat. For example, there is a protein common in fish that was found able to absorb and remove the wrongly-folded protein causing Parkinson, but so far only in the test tube.</div> <div> “We have also observed that in a mice model of Parkinson’s, mice with normal bacteria in the gut get Parkinson’s, but mice without gut germs are protected. This is a clear sign that Parkinson’s, and maybe even other neurodegenerative diseases, might actually start in the stomach and be influenced by what we eat. There is a lot to investigate here – not least when you consider that there are more bacteria in the gut than there are cells in our entire body!” she explains. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700">Metals play a role</span></div> <div>Early in her career, Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede laid the foundation for a new research direction – by looking at how metal-binding proteins fold and what specific role the metal played in the folding process. Nobody had looked at this before although almost half of our proteins bind a metal ion, and she made several ground-breaking discoveries. Furthermore, she was one of the first to start to mimic the crowded cellular environment in her test tube experiments, and it was found that this crowding effect was an important factor for protein properties. Pernilla’s combined interests in metals and misfolding of proteins may provide synergy in her future research, because metal levels in the brain are often disturbed in neurodegenerative disorders. For example, the level of copper is low in the brains of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s sufferers.</div> <div> “Those who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases often have too little copper in their brains, and they could potentially benefit from copper supplementation,” she says. &quot;However, this is controversial as copper may also be toxic.&quot;</div> <div><br /></div> <div><span style="font-weight:700">Current medicines don’t address the problem directly</span></div> <div>Both a genuine curiosity and a desire to find cures for neurodegenerative diseases are what drive Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede to look further into protein misfolding mechanisms. For only with basic knowledge, will be able to develop a cure, or, even better, prevent the illnesses in the future. Today’s medicines do not attack the root of the problem, rather they simply improve neurological pathways short term.</div> <div>“My dream is to find something which offers a general solution to all protein-misfolding diseases” she says. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>At this year’s popular-science William Chalmers Lecture</strong>, Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede spoke about her research, at the same time as we at Chalmers celebrated our birthday, on the 5th of November. We invited the public for cake and bubbles.  </div></div> <div><br /></div> <div><div><em>The lecture was also broadcasted (in Swedish) on Chalmer's social channels</em></div> <div><a href="https://youtu.be/clz5XvRUZsI"><img class="ms-asset-icon ms-rtePosition-4" src="/_layouts/images/icgen.gif" alt="" />See the full version of the William Chalmers Honorary Lecture 2018</a></div></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div>Text: Helena Österling af Wåhlberg<br />Photograph: Oscar Mattsson​</div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><br /></div> <div><div><strong>Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede…</strong></div> <div>…has been professor at the Department for Biology and Biotechnology and Head of the Division for Chemical Biology, since 2015. She leads a research group which focuses on metal-binding proteins and protein misfolding. Previously, she worked as professor at the universities of Rice and Tulane in the USA, as well as at Umeå university. She has published over 220 research articles.</div></div> <div><br /></div> Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Enzyme-knowledge-pave-the-way-to-sustainable-production.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Enzyme-knowledge-pave-the-way-to-sustainable-production.aspxEnzyme knowledge paves way to sustainable production<p><b>Atomic characterization of bacterial enzymes that cleave important bonds in plant biomass have been made for the very first time. This knowledge provides improved tools for a sustainable production of fuels and chemicals.</b></p>​Biomass from forests and agriculture can be used in fossil-free production of biofuels, environmentally friendly chemicals and different kind of materials. However, the raw material is hard to deconstruct into the simple sugars needed for production. The plant cell walls are built to be recalcitrant, a necessary property for survival in nature.<br /><br />One way to deconstruct wood or other types of plant biomass, is to use enzymes, which in nature work as molecular scissors. Researchers from the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology, together with the University of Copenhagen, have taken a closer look at the features of one specific group of enzymes with big potential.<br /><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/Profilbilder/johan%20170.jpg" alt="Johan Larsbrink" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" style="margin:5px" /><br />–    A factor that strongly complicates the deconstruction of the carbohydrate chains in plant cell wall to simple sugars, is a polymer called lignin, says Johan Larsbrink, Assistant Professor at the Division of Industrial Biotechnology.<br /><br />The long carbohydrate chains stick together because of the lignin, which works as an adhesive.<br /><br />–   In some places of the cell wall, the lignin and carbohydrates not just stick together – they are directly connected by so-called covalent chemical bonds. If we cleave these bonds, the overall deconstruction would be simplified, since the entire plant cell wall network would be weakened, one could say.<br /><br />This is where enzymes come into play. By using nature’s own scissors, the production chain can be made more sustainable, effective and, most likely, cheaper.<br /><br />The enzymes that are able to cleave bonds between carbohydrates and lignin are called Glucuronoyl Esterases, or GEs. The vast majority of previous studies have focused on enzymes from fungi, but the knowledge about this type of enzyme is still very limited. Johan Larsbrink’s group have studied ten GEs from three different bacterial species, instead of fungi.<br /><br />–    We chose to focus on bacterial enzymes since they have a much larger diversity than the fungal counterparts, and basically no studies of these had been made. We characterized the enzymes biochemically on model substrates, and managed to solve their 3D structures on the atomic level. This means that we get an extremely detailed picture of how they work. They are designed for their purpose in nature, so there’s a lot to be learned by this, he says.<br />–    We can also gain new knowledge about the plant cell wall itself by studying the enzymes. It’s like learning about the features of a hand by looking at the design of a glove.<br /><br />Results from the study suggest that the GEs interact with lignin, which was somewhat surprising.<br /><br />–    Most of enzymes acting on carbohydrates are specific for those well-defined structures, while lignin has a more or less random structure that enzymes find hard to handle, Johan Larsbrink explains.<br />–    To see how the enzymes may interact simultaneously with both carbohydrates and lignin makes sense, but it is a unique finding.<br /><br />The research group also tested their enzymes on corn cob biomass, which is a common waste product in agriculture. They used an enzyme cocktail without GEs, and observed what happened after addition of their GE enzymes. The results were dramatic:<br /><br />–    With GEs in the mix, the amount of free sugars was greatly increased. With these results, we are able to conclude that GE enzymes really make a huge contribution in cleaving bonds that are of high importance in the plant cell wall.<br /><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read bd550792-e447-40f0-9185-872e9ac10fa9" id="div_bd550792-e447-40f0-9185-872e9ac10fa9"></div> <div id="vid_bd550792-e447-40f0-9185-872e9ac10fa9" unselectable="on" style="display:none"></div></div> <br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Johan Larsbrink (enzyme model), Silvia Hüttner<br />Thu, 04 Oct 2018 16:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Wholegrains-important-for-preventing-type-2-diabetes.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Wholegrains-important-for-preventing-type-2-diabetes.aspxWholegrains important for preventing type 2 diabetes<p><b>​It doesn’t matter if it’s rye, oats, or wheat. As long as it is wholegrain, it can prevent type 2 diabetes. This is the finding of a new study from researchers at Chalmers and the Danish Cancer Society Research Center.</b></p><p>​The comprehensive study is a strong confirmation of previous research findings on the importance of whole grains for prevention of type 2 diabetes – previously sometimes known as adult-onset diabetes. Even if the link has been known for a long time, the role of different wholegrain sources has not been investigated earlier. It has also been unclear how much wholegrain is needed to reduce the risk of developing diabetes.<br /> <br />“Most studies similar to ours have previously been conducted in the USA, where people mainly get their wholegrain from wheat,” says Rikard Landberg, Professor at the Division of Food and Nutrition Science, and senior researcher on the study.<br /><br />“We wanted to see if there was a difference between different cereals. One might expect there would be, because they contain different types of dietary fibre and bioactive substances, which have been shown to influence risk factors for type 2 diabetes.”<br /><br /><strong>The amount matters</strong><br />The study was conducted in Denmark, where there is a big variation in wholegrain-intake. The study showed that it made no difference which type of wholegrain product or cereal the participants ate – ryebread, oatmeal, and muesli, for example, seem to offer the same protection against type 2 diabetes. <br /><br />What is more important is how much wholegrain one eats each day – and the study also provides important clarification to the scientific knowledge when it comes to daily dosages. <br /><br />The participants were divided into 4 different groups, based on how much wholegrain they reported eating. Those with the highest consumption ate at least 50 grams of wholegrain each day. This corresponds to a portion of oatmeal porridge and one slice of rye bread, for example. <br /><br />The proportion who developed type 2 diabetes was lowest in the group which reported the highest wholegrain consumption, and increased for each group which had eaten less wholegrain. In the group with the highest wholegrain intake, the diabetes risk was 34 percent lower for men, and 22 percent lower for women, than in the group with the lowest wholegrain intake. <br /><br /> “It is unusual to be able to investigate such a large range when it comes to how much wholegrain people eat,” says Rikard Landberg.<br /><br />“If you divided American participants into 4 groups, the group that ate the most wholegrain would be the same level as the group that ate the least wholegrain in Denmark. In Europe, Scandinavia eats the most, Spain and Italy the least.” <br /><br />Additionally, the study was uncommonly large, with 55,000 participants, over a long time span – 15 years.<br /><br /><strong>In line with dietary advice</strong><br />If you compare wholegrains’ role in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes against other foods that have been investigated in other studies, it is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk when it comes to diet. Drinking coffee, and avoiding red meat, are other factors that can similarly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. <br /><br /> “Our results are in line with dietary advice, which recommends switching out foods containing white flour for wholegrains,” says Rikard Landberg.<br /><br />“You get extra health benefits – white flour has some negative effects on health, while wholegrain has several positive effects, beyond protection against type 2 diabetes.”<br /><br /><strong>Good to eat carbohydrates</strong><br />Wholegrains are defined as consisting of all three main components of the grain kernel: endosperm, germ, and bran. Those who avoid all cereals, in an attempt to follow a low carb diet, therefore lose out on the positive health effects of wholegrain, which come principally from the bran and the germ. Rikard Landberg thinks that cereals, and carbohydrates in general, should not be avoided in diet.<br /><br />“Carbohydrates are a very varied group of foodstuffs, including sugar, starch, and fibre. We should discuss these more individually, and not throw them together in one group, because they have totally different effects on our physiology and health. When it comes to wholegrains, the research results are clear: among the many studies which have been made, in varied groups of people around the world, there hasn’t been a single study which has shown negative health effects.”<br /><br />Read more: <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jn/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jn/nxy112/5054990">Higher Whole-Grain Intake Is Associated with Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes among Middle-Aged Men and Women: The Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Cohort</a><br /><br /><br /><strong>Facts: Wholegrains</strong><br />Wholegrains consist of all three main components of the grain kernel: endosperm, germ and bran. It can be both loose grains, and wholegrain flour. Grains such as oatmeal and rye, wheatberries, bulgur, and wholegrain couscous are all wholegrains. In bread and pasta, the wholegrain content can vary. Common cereals include wheat, rye, oats, corn, maize, rice, millet and sorghum. <br /><br />Swedish dietary advice is to eat around 70g of wholegrain a day for women, and 90g a day for men. Some examples of how much wholegrain different foods contain: </p> <ul><li>One 50g slice of rye bread: 16g wholegrain. </li> <li>One 35g serving of oatmeal porridge: 35 g wholegrain</li> <li>One 12g crispbread: 12 g wholegrain</li></ul> <p><em>Source: the Swedish National Food Administration and Chalmers</em><br /><br /><strong>Facts: The study</strong><br />The study used data from a prospective Danish cohort study on diet, cancer and health. It covered more than 55,000 participants, who were between 50-65 years old when the study started. During the initiation of the cohort study in the early 1990s, healthy participants had filled in detailed forms of their eating habits. Through these, the researchers established the participants’ total wholegrain intake per day, which of the most common cereals they got their wholegrain from, (wheat, rye, oats, in grams per day), and the total number, and different types, of wholegrain products (in grams per day) – rye bread, other wholegrain breads, oatmeal porridge and muesli. <br /><br />The cohort study was linked with data from Denmark’s national diabetes register, to investigate which participants developed type 2 diabetes during a 15 year period – which in total was over 7000 people.<br /><br /><br />Text: Johanna Wilde<br />Photo of Rikard Landberg: Johan Bodell<br /></p>Wed, 05 Sep 2018 07:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/areas-of-advance/energy/news/Pages/Barriers-and-opportunities-in-renewable-biofuels-production-.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/areas-of-advance/energy/news/Pages/Barriers-and-opportunities-in-renewable-biofuels-production-.aspxBarriers and opportunities in renewable biofuels production<p><b>​Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have identified two main challenges for renewable biofuel production from cheap sources. Firstly, lowering the cost of developing microbial cell factories, and secondly, establishing more efficient methods for hydrolysis of biomass to sugars for fermentation. Their study was recently published in the journal Nature Energy.​</b></p>​<span>The study, by Professor Jens Nielsen, Yongjin Zhou and Eduard Kerkhoven, from the Division of Systems and Synthetic Biology, evaluates the barriers that need to be overcome to make biomass-derived hydrocarbons a real alternative to fossil fuels. </span><div><br /><span></span><div> <strong>“Our study is of particular interest </strong>for decision makers and research funders, as it highlights recent advances and the potential in the field of biofuels. It also identifies where more research is required. This can help to priorities what research should be funded,” says Eduard Kerkhoven.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>It is technically already possible to produce biofuels from renewable resources by using microbes such as yeast and bacteria as tiny cell factories. <br />However, in order to compete with fossil-derived fuels, the process has to become much more efficient. But improving the efficiency of the microbial cell factories is an expensive and time-consuming process, so speeding-up the cell factory development is therefore one of the main goals. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Professor Jens Nielsen </strong>and his research group are world leaders in the engineering of yeast, and in the development and application of computer models of yeast metabolism – as well as being noted for their world-class research into human metabolism, and investigations into aging processes and diseases. Their work informs how yeast can best be engineered to manufacture new chemicals or biofuels. In their article “Barriers and opportunities in bio-based production of hydrocarbons,” the researchers investigate the production of various biofuels using a model of yeast metabolism. </div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>“We have calculated</strong> theoretical maximum production yields and compared this to what is currently achievable in the lab. There is still huge potential for improving the process,” says Eduard Kerkhoven.</div> <div>The other main barrier is efficient conversion from biomass, such as plants and trees, to the sugars that are used by the cell factories. If this conversion were made more efficient, it would be possible to use waste material from the forest industry, or crops that are purposely grown for biofuels, to produce a fully renewable biofuel. Eduard Kerkhoven notes how important biofuels will be for the future.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>&quot;In the future, </strong>whilst passenger cars will be primarily electric, biofuels are going to be critical for heavier modes of transport such as jets and trucks. The International Energy Agency projects that by 2050, 27 percent of global transport fuels will be biofuels. Meanwhile, large oil companies such as Preem and Total also predict that renewable biofuels will play an important role in the future. In their '<a href="https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/the-energy-future/scenarios/shell-scenario-sky.html">Sky Scenario</a>', Shell expects that biofuels will account for 10 percent of all global end energy-use by the end of the century. That is in line with our research too,” he concludes.  </div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Read the article in Nature Energy</strong></div> <div><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41560-018-0197-x">Barriers and opportunities in bio-based production of hydrocarbons ​</a></div> <div>the authors, Yongjin J. Zhou, Eduard J. Kerkhoven, Jens Nielsen</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>For more information, contact:</strong></div> <div><p style="margin:0cm 0cm 6.75pt;line-height:13.5pt"><span style="font-size:10pt">Eduard Kerkhoven , Project leader, Computational Metabolic Engineering, department of Biology and Biological Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, +46-31-772 3140, <a href="mailto:eduardk@chalmers.se"><span>eduardk@chalmers.se</span></a></span></p> <p style="margin:0cm 0cm 6.75pt;line-height:13.5pt"><span style="font-size:10pt">Jens Nielsen, Professor, Quantitative Systems Biology, Head of Division of Systems and Synthetic Biology, <br />Chalmers University of Technology, +46-31-772 38 04, <span><a href="mailto:nielsenj@chalmers.se">nielsenj@chalmers.se</a></span></span></p></div></div> ​Tue, 04 Sep 2018 00:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Yeast-made-more-efficient-as-cell-factory.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Yeast-made-more-efficient-as-cell-factory.aspxYeast more efficient as cell factory<p><b>​Chalmers BIO department continue to present groundbreaking research. Two recent publication add further knowledge to be used for a sustainable society, as well as for understanding cancer.</b></p>​Yeast cells are remarkable. They can be used as model systems for added knowledge about human cells; almost everything found in yeast is actually also found in humans. Furthermore, they can be used as small, efficient, factories for producing fuels and chemicals of various kinds.<br /><br />Research on yeast is conducted at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers, where two major breakthroughs recently was published in prestigious research journals. Both projects have succeeded in altering the metabolism of the yeast cells, thereby significantly improving their potential as cell factories.<br /><br /><strong>Producing fatty acids</strong><br /><br />In one of the studies – published in Cell – the research team rewired the cell metabolism, making it produce large quantities of free fatty acids instead of ethanol, which it normally produces. The fatty acids can be used for example in manufacturing of detergents, lubricants, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical ingredients.<br /><br />– We achieved the highest production level of free fatty acids by fermentation ever, says Tao Yu, postdoc at the division of Systems and Synthetic Biology.<br /><br />The metabolic network of the yeast cell is tightly regulated to maintain metabolic homeostasis, thereby protecting the cell from environmental perturbations. Consequently, it is challenging to alter, and the research proving it possible to achieve this high yield of fatty acid is therefore to be considered as a major breakthrough.<br /><br />– Our work demonstrates that despite millions of years of evolution, the metabolism of yeast – <em>Saccharomyces cerevisiae </em>– is remarkably plastic, says Tao Yu.<br />– Engineering microbes, like yeast, for the production of fuels and chemicals enables the replacement of fossil based production. It thereby supports the growing population and economy with a lower carbon footprint.<br /><br /><strong>More efficient without the Crabtree effect</strong><br /><br />The other study, published in Nature Communications, prove it possible to modify the metabolism of yeast to abolish the so called Crabtree effect. The Crabtree effect, named after the biochemist Herbert Crabtree, is a phenomenon which ensures the advantage of yeast in its ecological niche by rapidly consuming glucose and producing ethanol. On the other hand, this effect also makes it harder to make the cell produce anything else but ethanol. Abolishing the Crabtree effect is a true challenge, as it requires a global rewiring of the entire metabolic network.<br /><br />– There is much interest in doing this, as a yeast cell without the Crabtree effect is able to produce much higher yields of target products such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals and biofuels, says Zongjie Dai, a visiting researcher at Systems and Synthetic Biology.<br />– This study created a platform strain with high potential. Additionally, our findings may give an insight into cancer cell metabolism due to the similarity between the Crabtree effect and the Warburg effect in cancer cells.<br /><br />The next steps for Zongjie Dai include combining adaptive laboratory evolution with systems biology, to get further knowledge about the new yeast.<br /><br />– I will also take advantage of this novel platform strain, and produce bulk and fine chemicals as well as biofuels with higher yield.<br /><br />Tao Yu will further couple the cell growth to the free fatty acid producing pathway.<br /><br />– And we will further improve the yield of free fatty acids by metabolic engineering, he concludes.<br /><br />Read more:<div><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867418309073">Reprogramming Yeast Metabolism from Alcoholic Fermentation to Lipogenesis​</a><br /><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-05409-9">Global rewiring of cellular metabolism renders Saccharomyces cerevisiae Crabtree negative​</a><br /><br /></div> Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Martina Butorac<br />Thu, 30 Aug 2018 15:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/mc2/news/Pages/150-nano-researchers-at-successful-networking-event.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/mc2/news/Pages/150-nano-researchers-at-successful-networking-event.aspx150 nano researchers at successful networking event<p><b>​150 participants, 65 research posters and a wide range of reputable speakers. It was a successful community building event for the excellence initiative Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in Marstrand on 20-22 August. &quot;This has evolved into the annual meeting place for the area&#39;s researchers, and with 150 participants it feels like we have established something really good,&quot; says director Bo Albinsson.</b></p><div><span style="background-color:initial"><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/MC2/News/nanoevent_balbinsson_IMG_4530_350x305.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="" style="margin:5px" />Chalmers former Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Area of Advance has since been reorganized into an excellence initiative. It was the first time the researchers met in the new form for three days at Marstrands Havshotell, and overall the ninth networking meeting.</span><br /></div> <div>&quot;It is an opportunity to talk about both current and future issues. Those who are interested and active come here and know that it's good to meet and greet. Several have been here since the beginning – and it must mean that some think it's worth coming here,&quot; says Bo Albinsson (to the left), who is a professor of physical chemistry at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.</div> <div>He is the director of the excellence initiative together with co-director Göran Johansson, Professor of Applied Quantum Physics and Head of the Applied Quantum Physics Laboratory at MC2.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/MC2/News/nanoevent_IMG_4657_robert_hadfield_bra_350x305.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px" />The participants were invited to a packed program with speakers from Sweden and other countries. Chalmers was represented by, among others, Per Delsing, Julie Gold and Giulia Ferrini. Among the invited international speakers were Robert Hadfield (to the right), University of Glasgow, and Tuomas Knowles, University of Cambridge.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>During the three days, 65 posters were exhibited and judged by a jury consisting of Professor Erwin Peterman, Vrije Universiteit in The Netherlands, and Professor Tero Heikkilä, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. The top three posters were rewarded with SEK 5,000 each, to be used for conference trips.</div> <div>On Wednesday morning, prizes for best posters were awarded to Maja Feierabend, Astrid Pihl and Ludvig de Knoop. Also, Arne Sjögren's award for best doctoral dissertation in the nano area 2017 was awarded to Martin Eriksson from the Department of Physics.</div> <div><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/MC2/News/nanoevent_IMG_5050_arrangorer_b_665x330.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px" /><br /><span style="background-color:initial">The community building event was arranged by Astrid Pihl, </span><span style="background-color:initial">Maja Feierabend and </span><span style="background-color:initial">Ingrid Strandberg (picture above), PhD students at the departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Physics, and Microtechnology and Nanoscience –</span><span style="background-color:initial"> MC2.</span></div> <div>&quot;Preparations have taken place since April. At the end, there were a lot of logistics before all pieces fell into place,&quot; says Ingrid Strandberg, adding that all three were very pleased with the event.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Text and photo: Michael Nystås</div> <div><br /></div> <div><a href="/en/research/strong/nano">Read more about the excellence initiative Nano</a> &gt;&gt;&gt;</div>Thu, 30 Aug 2018 10:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/news/Pages/big-investment-to-make-Chalmers-equal.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/news/Pages/big-investment-to-make-Chalmers-equal.aspxA big investment to make Chalmers equal<p><b>​Through an investment of several hundred million kronor, Chalmers is considerably stepping up its gender equality work. Through concrete, ground-breaking changes of the system, and direct recruitment of top female researchers, Chalmers will achieve a significantly more equal gender balance within the faculty over ten years.</b></p>​Like other technical universities, Chalmers has a very low share of women at faculty levels. At Chalmers, the share is currently 22 percent. However, research shows that a more equal gender balance leads to greater scientific success, and also to a better work environment, both for men and women.<br /><br />Therefore, Chalmers is now making a great effort to deal with the skewed gender distribution. The investment is funded by the Chalmers Foundation and has a budget of 300 million SEK over ten years.<br /><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/20180101-20180630/StefanBengtsson_170907_150x200.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:145px;height:193px" /><br />“Different studies clearly show that the academy is not equal today – men and women are judged and treated differently. With this powerful investment, in addition to what we already do, we want to correct the imbalance and in addition become a stronger and more successful university. It's about making better use of the competence of the entire population,&quot; says Stefan Bengtsson, president and CEO of Chalmers.<br /><br />Chalmers has been working on gender equality for a long time. But the new investment, named Genie as an abbreviation of Gender Initiative for Excellence, represents a huge move to speed up the changes.<br /><br />Genie consists mainly of two parts. One is concrete work at each department in order to identify and eliminate structural and cultural barriers that impede women's careers. Departments that meet Chalmers’ gender equality requirements will receive a bonus in the internal funding distribution.<br /><br />The second p<span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span></span></span></span></span></span></span>art is direct recruitment of top female scientists, and to ensure that other recruitments, for example due to retirements, result in at least 50 percent women.<br /><span><span><span><span><span><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/20180101-20180630/PernillaWittungStafshede_150x200.jpg" class="chalmersPosition-FloatLeft" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:140px;height:186px" /></span></span></span></span></span><br /><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span>&quot;It is abou<span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span>t bui<span><span><span><span></span></span></span></span>lding a critical mass of women. A small minority has difficulty gaining proper support. But that does not mean that we are lowering our competence requirements –<span><span><span></span></span></span> there are many female researchers who are extremely competent,” says professor<span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span> Pernilla Wittung Stafshede, one of the initiators of Genie.<span><span><span><span><span><span><span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span><br /><span><span><br /><br /><br /></span></span><br />Text: Ingela Roos<br />Photo: Johan BodellFri, 29 Jun 2018 09:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Blood-researcher-gets-double-attention.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Blood-researcher-gets-double-attention.aspxBlood scientist gets double attention<p><b>​She has demonstrated great scientific skills in a complex degree project, she masters many techniques and has been published in a journal of high scientific impact. These are some of the reasons that Semhar Ghirmai, now a PhD student at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, has been awarded the Karl-Erik Sahlberg&#39;s donation of SEK 50,000.</b></p>​​<span style="background-color:initial"><strong>Congratulations Semhar! You receive this scholarship for your master’s degree in Chemistry at Lund University, where you studied blood substitutes. What is that?</strong></span><div>– I spent six months in Japan at Nara Medical University where they develop artificial blood substitutes from donated blood that has become too old to use in hospitals. Some of the benefits of blood substitutes are that there’s no risk of bloodborne diseases, it can be used by all blood types and it can last for several years, in comparison to today's blood bags that must be discarded after 42 days. One of the difficulties has got to do with the protein hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells and is needed to carry oxygen throughout the body, but the hemoglobin can quickly oxidize and change shape into methemoglobin, which gives problems with oxygenating the body's tissues. This is where I got the opportunity to make an effort in research by studying various organic substances that we could add to reduce the methemoglobin and thus prolong the life of the artificial blood substitute.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>How did you proceed in your work?</strong></div> <div>– We used data from previous experiments and then tested the substances we selected in vitro, i.e. in test tubes before we continued to evaluate them on rats.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Now you are a PhD student here at Chalmers working with fish. Tell us – what problem do you look at, and what can be the solution?</strong></div> <div>– One of the biggest challenges for many who work with blood is how hemoglobin oxidizes and changes. I have a project with Professor Ingrid Undeland, where we look at the problem from a food and nutrition perspective. As the hemoglobin in the fish blood comes in contact with the fish meat, it starts to break down the valuable omega-3 fatty acids of the meat, which quickly deteriorates the quality of the fish. Right now, we are investigating different strategies to be able to remove as much blood as possible from the fish without the hemoglobin coming in contact with the muscle tissue. The goal is to reduce food waste and to achieve as sustainable a fishing industry as possible in the future.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>Your degree project has been published as an article in the scientific journal &quot;Artificial Cells, Nanomedicine and Biotechnology&quot;. What were your thoughts when you got it accepted?</strong></div> <div>– It's my first article so it was an incredible feeling! I had my mind set on publishing my degree project before I started it, but I still could not really understand that it was true until I saw the article in final format.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>At the end of May, you received the Karl-Erik Sahlberg scholarship at a ceremony at Lund University. How was it?</strong></div> <div>– Yes, it was very nice. The award ceremony for the scholarship was included in the university's graduation ceremony and it was fun to be celebrated together with the graduation students. Two of Karl-Erik Sahlberg's grandchildren handed me the prize, and it was really an honor to meet them and express my gratitude to the family.</div> <div><br /></div> <div><strong>How will you use the money?</strong></div> <div>– Karl-Erik Sahlberg's purpose with the scholarship was to support a good chemistry student in her first year as newly graduated, so I’ll make sure that the money is going to be of good use. But I haven’t decided on the details, just yet.</div> <div><br /></div> <div>Text: Helena Österling af Wåhlberg</div> <div>Photo: Johan Bodell</div> <div><br /></div>Wed, 13 Jun 2018 10:00:00 +0200https://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Rikard-Landberg-elected-to-Young-Academy-of-Sweden.aspxhttps://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/bio/news/Pages/Rikard-Landberg-elected-to-Young-Academy-of-Sweden.aspxFood and nutrition makes an entry in Young Academy of Sweden<p><b>​Professor Rikard Landberg has been elected as one of eight new members in Young Academy of Sweden. It is the first time that the field of food and nutrition is represented and the young professor looks forward to working with the academy.– It&#39;s a great opportunity to influence! says Rikard Landberg.</b></p>​Young Academy of Sweden started in 2011 with the view to gain research-political influence, promote interdisciplinary cooperation and to reach out and raise the position of science in society. Anyone who wishes to apply as a member, must have had their theses defense no more than 10 years ago.<br /><br />– It was nine years since mine, so I thought this was my last chance and applied, says Rikard Landberg.<br /><br />The first selection is based on the scientific view to cull truly talented researchers. Thereafter, aspirants are called for an interview to filter people with the right drive as well as a national, gender and scientific profileration. After a while, the message came that Rikard Landberg had been elected as one of the eight new members in Young Academy of Sweden.<br /><br />– I was very pleased of course, because obviously it is a recognition of my work! But I am also very pleased that food science and nutrition are represented for the first time. I am working hard to raise the status of my subject and to make sure that the research conducted is to be of the highest degree, says Rikard Landberg.<br /><br />The members are assigned for five years and are replaced successively, which means that the academy is constantly renewed while there are always seniors. So far, the academy has been touring with career seminars at universities, pushing the issue of Assistant University Lecturer, visiting schools, having round table discussions with the Swedish Research Council and handing out the &quot;For Women in Science&quot; Prize. They meet on two occasions every six months and the members are included in committees and groups of themes where engaging is important.<br /><br />– I see opportunities to influence particularly by working towards the whole political machinery. For example, discussing strategic and research relevant initiatives with groups of parliament, talking about how to distribute the money and how Sweden should invest, says Rikard Landberg. I think the Young Academy of Sweden has a great influence, including as a consultation body. And of course, it is important not only for me, but also for Chalmers, to be represented in an independent organization of young, committed researchers.<br /><br />Rikard Landberg is looking forward to the cooperation with the other members <br /><br />– I will enjoy the interaction with all those engaged and talented researchers who are so committed! And I also look forward to gaining transparency from other research areas. Another important role for the academy is to come out and talk with younger people, already at an undergraduate level, about what it's like to be a researcher and to show how it can be done so that more people open their eyes for research, instead of them going straight to the industry. That is something I want to contribute to.<br /><br /><strong>How will you celebrate?</strong><br />– I have already celebrated! A glass of champagne when I got the good news and then during the Academy anniversary meeting. I am very glad to have such great prerequisites and the best chance to conduct the research I want.<br /><br /><br />Text: Helena Österling af Wåhlberg<br />Photo: Martina Butorac<br /><br />Philippe Tassin, associate professor of Physics at Chalmers, as also elected to the Academy at the same time. Read more about him <a href="/sv/institutioner/fysik/nyheter/Sidor/En-ljusets-mastare-tar-plats-i-Sveriges-unga-akademi.aspx">here</a>.<br />Mon, 28 May 2018 09:00:00 +0200