News: Bioteknik related to Chalmers University of TechnologyTue, 11 Sep 2018 22:56:36 +0200 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="">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 +0200 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="">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="">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=""><span></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=""></a></span></span></p></div></div> ​Tue, 04 Sep 2018 00:00:00 +0200 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="">Reprogramming Yeast Metabolism from Alcoholic Fermentation to Lipogenesis​</a><br /><a href="">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 +0200 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 +0200 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 +0200 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 +0200 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 for development in the US<p><b>​An environmental change, time to focus and think new thoughts. Professor Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede is looking forward to her trip to the United States, made possible by a Barbro Osher scholarship.</b></p><p>​During two summer months, Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede will visit Los Angeles to work at the prestigious California Institute of Technology, Caltech. Chemistry professor Jacqueline Barton will act as her host.<br /><br />“I was there in the spring of 2015 on a sabbatical. It was a really nice environmental change and I got some new research ideas as well as collaborations. But my family was there with me, and so I also had to focus on our children’s schooling and homework. This time I will be mostly by myself, and the family will come over for a shorter visit”, says Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, and continues:<br />“It’s stimulating to be in a place where top research is done in every corner, and almost every student is a future professor.”<br /><br />During the stay, Wittung-Stafshede will attend the host’s group meetings, listen to seminars and visit her collaborators in different parts of California; activities at US universities continue as usual during the summer, unlike in Sweden.<br /><br />She also plans to focus on writing some research articles of her own.<br /><br />“This period will be a breathing space, an opportunity for me to think freely while being in a stimulating environment. There are so many things to do at Chalmers, as well as other assignments, during the semesters.”<br /><br />The trip is paid for by a scholarship from the Barbro Oshers Pro Suecia Foundation (see facts below). Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede didn’t know about the foundation until recently, and she would like to let more researchers know about the possibility of seeking financial support for similar trips.<br /><br />In addition to her research, Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede is engaged in equality issues, both within the academy in general and at Chalmers.<br /><br />“My host at Caltech is my female role model. She is an extremely successful woman who is in charge of a large research group at the same time as she is Head of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. I usually act as a mentor for younger colleagues – which I love to do. But this summer, I will use my host as a mentor for myself.”<br /><br /><strong>Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation</strong><br />Barbro Osher is a Swedish patron and the Swedish Consul General in San Francisco. She has made large donations to, among other things, Swedish cultural institutions and runs the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, through which Chalmers can support researchers’ stays in the United States. Applicants must be PhD’s and employed at Chalmers, heading their own research group, but the money can also be sought for, for example, a PhD student. Read more <a href="/insidan/SV/utbildning-och-forskning/soka-pengar/stipendier-for-forskare/barbro-oshers-pro-suecia">here (in Swedish). </a><br /></p> <p>Text: Mia Malmstedt <br />Photo: Johan Bodell</p>Fri, 25 May 2018 14:00:00 +0200 and Synthetic Biology celebrate ten years at Chalmers<p><b>​Ten years ago, the research area of systems biology was established at Chalmers. Today, they constitute their own division, whose research is world-leading and the international prices rain down on them. Professor Jens Nielsen is Head of Division and it all started with him.</b></p>​<strong>Congratulations to ten years! How does it feel?</strong><br />– Fantastic! When I was recruited from Denmark to Chalmers, I was asked to form a new department, but I did not want to do that straight away. I wanted to focus on my research and to build the new group of researchers. And that was the right decision, because it was really good to grow up at the Department of Chemistry and Biological engineering, and even though we were divided into two departments in 2015, we still have a close collaboration.<br /><br /><strong>Can you describe where the division is today?</strong><br />– We are world leaders in three out of four of the key areas which form our core research; human metabolism, how yeast can help to manufacture new chemicals or biofuels, and our model of yeast metabolism which can be used to understand the aging processes and how it all fits together. And we must not forget our newest area; graphene and how that can be used in biological engineering. We have a very strong international profile, which attracts people from all over the world.<br /><br /><strong>What do you remember from when you started?</strong><br />– In Denmark, I had a lot of staff and responsibility, but here I suddenly got time and peace for my own research. There I worked with a large research group of about 40 people and with many different microorganisms and fungi. I brought ten people with me to Chalmers and decided to focus mainly on yeast. Our vision was to become world-leading and we achieved that!<br /><br /><strong>What are you proud of?</strong><br />– I am especially proud of the culture we have established in our division. Our culture represents openness, transparency and trust in each other and I think that attitude is very important for a researcher. In many other places the culture is very closed, secret and competitive. Of course, one might be afraid that others could steal your research, but as researchers we need to keep in mind that our main goal must be to bring the research forward, not ourselves. I think we have succeeded, which makes me see all our publications in reputable journals and all our great prices as evidence that our culture is functional.<br /><br /><strong>What do you think Systems and Synthetic Biology has meant for Chalmers?</strong><br />– In fact, I think we have helped put Chalmers on the map. Before our arrival, Chalmers had no research in the field of Life Science and now we conduct world-leading research right here!<br /><br /><strong>How will you celebrate?</strong><br />– We will celebrate with a two-day conference in Denmark in mid-June, where 180 of our researchers throughout the years will join. Today they work all over the world, so it will be a big reunion with the chance to exchange knowledge and a great opportunity to network and establish new acquaintances. I really look forward to it!<br /><br />Text: Helena Österling af Wåhlberg<br />Photo: Chalmers photo archiveThu, 24 May 2018 00:00:00 +0200 award to professor of food science<p><b>​The City of Gothenburg’s award of merit is given to people who have made significant efforts for the city. This year, the award goes to Professor Ann-Sofie Sandberg, who has devoted her time to building the area of food science at Chalmers.</b></p><p><img width="167" height="250" class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/Food/Ann-SofieSandberg_17_250.jpg" alt="" style="height:220px;width:149px;margin:5px" />​Ann-Sofie Sandberg was awarded the prize for her engagement in an important research area, for broadening the collaborations between disciplines and for her strive to create gender equality in the research community.<br /><br />”It feels great! Other awards have focused on research. This one shows that my work have been of importance for the society. Additionally, it’s a good thing to draw attention to Chalmers and to our area”, says Ann-Sofie Sandberg.<br /><br />She received the news by letter to her home address, and it was somewhat surprising. But the award is of course well deserved. Ann-Sofie Sandberg has for many years spent time and effort building food science as a strong area at Chalmers, while contributing to the development of the food area in the city as well as the region. She has also seen a national development, leading to Sweden getting a food strategy and strengthening the subject’s status.<br /><br />“Gothenburg has become a strong node nationally for nutrition and food science, and it’s largely due to Chalmers’ initiatives&quot;, she says, and explains why the area is so important:<br />“Food is means of life. A sustainable society requires a sustainable human being and sustainable food production, and we face major challenges today. The food produced must also contribute to better health and well-being. Globally, obesity and malnutrition are as important health issues as undernutrition.”<br /><br />Today, Ann-Sofie Sandberg’s baby, the Division of Food and Nutrition Science, belongs to the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering and has expanded rapidly over the last few years. She herself has recently left the driver seat to a new head of division, Rikard Landberg.<br /><br />“Now we will work for increased visibility, nationally and internationally, and further raise our status&quot;, says Ann-Sofie Sandberg.<br /><br />This year's prize winners also includes Chalmers’ Physics Professor Per-Olof Nilsson and an additional ten people with different professions such as governor, composer, director and organizer. The motivations will be given at the award ceremony on June 4, where the awardees will also receive a badge and a Poseidon statue.<br /><br />Read a longer portrait of Ann-Sofie Sandberg <a href="/sv/institutioner/bio/nyheter/Sidor/Utan-hållbar-människa-inget-hållbart-samhälle.aspx">here </a>(in Swedish only). <br /><br />More about Physics Professor Per-Olof Nilsson <a href="/en/departments/physics/news/Pages/Chalmers-Professor-awarded-by-the-City-of-Gothenburg.aspx">here</a>. <br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Johan Bodell<br /></p>Wed, 16 May 2018 10:00:00 +0200 in future scientists<p><b>​How do we get future natural scientists? By raising the interest of elementary school children! Maria Matson Dzebo, postdoc at Biology and Biological Engineering, believes this to be true and has engaged herself in the competition Teknikåttan.</b></p>​This year’s regional finals in Teknikåttan recently took place at Chalmers. In the event, students from the eighth grade in elementary school competed for a spot at the national final in Linköping in May (<a href="/sv/samverkan/skolsamverkan/Grundskolan/teknikattan/Sidor/Teknikåttan-2018.aspx">read more here </a>(only in Swedish)! <br /><br />One of the researchers who has dedicated their time and engagement in the competition is Maria Matson Dzebo.<br /><br />“It all started when I was at a conference this fall, and found out that Chalmers lacked a representative in Teknikåttan. I contacted the project manager and asked if I could be of assistance,” she says.<br />&quot;I think it’s important that Chalmers commit to make sure we’ll have future natural scientists. It is also part of what we as researchers are supposed to do; educate and disseminate knowledge, to students and towards the public.”<br /><br />Maria Matson Dzebo has been working in projects involving younger elementary school children earlier. The sooner, the better, she argues. Later, there’s a risk that natural sciences are seen as boring and difficult. But why is that?<br /><br />“I think it’s contagious. If you, as a parent, found natural sciences difficult, you might send that signal to your children… And then it spreads from child to child. When you’re a kid, you want to act the same way and like the same things as everybody else.”<br /><br />Targeting the eighth grade is absolutely right, she says. There is still some time left before the students have to make a choice for upper secondary school, but they have landed after getting their first grades two years earlier. They also have all the subjects of natural sciences on the schedule.<br /><br />Maria Matson Dzebo has been involved in the scientific group, where the competition’s questions are designed. Some contest elements are also purely technical; they’ve been tested in her kitchen to see what works. She has also served as a referee and may do so again in the national finals. If she gets the chance, she would like to be involved again next year.<br /><br />And what about the region finals?<br /><br />“The kids were nervous but seemed more relaxed after a while. They looked happy and like they were having fun. And the teachers gave some very positive feedback afterwards. I think the competition is important to them too; the students complete two of the tasks in school, before the competition. This year they constructed a ball thrower and a code where they could communicate with each other using flags only.”<br /><br />The competition took place at the conference hall Runan at Chalmers. This is also important, says Maria Matson Dzebo:<br /><br />“We want to show off our campus, show that Chalmers is not just a black hole that you pass when you’re in the neighborhood. And we want to show that we as researchers are quite ordinary people who think this is exciting; we want them to know that anyone can become a scientist.”<br /><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo: Martina Butorac<br />Thu, 26 Apr 2018 09:00:00 +0200 visited Nordstan<p><b>Are we what we eat? That was the main question as the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering visited the stage in Nordstan during Gothenburg Science Festival. And it really is a popular subject.</b></p><img class="chalmersPosition-FloatRight" alt="BIO Researchers visited Nordstan" src="/SiteCollectionImages/Institutioner/Bio/Kollage.png" style="margin:5px" />​There were hardly any available seats during the twelve short lectures where the audience got to learn more about tomorrow's food, how new techniques and smarter fish processing can reduce food and nutrition waist, how our blood reveals what we have eaten and how and why we are affected by the food we eat.<br /><br />And in the Expert Bubble, visitors got to walk up to the researchers and ask all their questions about food, health, diet and allergies.<br /><br />The quiz was also very popular and the battle for the honor and vouchers for Feskarbröderna was tough and exciting!Wed, 25 Apr 2018 14:00:00 +0200 fish could prevent Parkinson’s disease<p><b>​A new study from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, shines more light on the link between consumption of fish and better long-term neurological health. Parvalbumin, a protein found in great quantities in several different fish species, has been shown to help prevent the formation of certain protein structures closely associated with Parkinson’s disease.</b></p>​Fish has long been considered a healthy food, linked to improved long-term cognitive health, but the reasons for this have been unclear. Omega-3 and -6, fatty acids commonly found in fish, are often assumed to be responsible, and are commonly marketed in this fashion. However, the scientific research regarding this topic has drawn mixed conclusions. Now, new research from Chalmers has shown that the protein parvalbumin, which is very common in many fish species, may be contributing to this effect.<br /><br />One of the hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease is amyloid formation of a particular human protein, called alpha-synuclein. Alpha-synuclein is even sometimes referred to as the ‘Parkinson’s protein’. <br />What the Chalmers researchers have now discovered, is that parvalbumin can form amyloid structures that bind together with the alpha-synuclein protein. Parvalbumin effectively ‘scavenges’ the alpha-synuclein proteins, using them for its own purposes, thus preventing them from forming their own potentially harmful amyloids later on. <br /><br />“Parvalbumin collects up the ‘Parkinson’s protein’ and actually prevents it from aggregating, simply by aggregating itself first,” explains Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede, Professor and Head of the Chemical Biology division at Chalmers, and lead author on the study. <br /><br />With the parvalbumin protein so highly abundant in certain fish species, increasing the amount of fish in our diet might be a simple way to fight off Parkinson’s disease. Herring, cod, carp, and redfish, including sockeye salmon and red snapper, have particularly high levels of parvalbumin, but it is common in many other fish species too. The levels of parvalbumin can also vary greatly throughout the year.<br /><br />“Fish is normally a lot more nutritious at the end of the summer, because of increased metabolic activity. Levels of parvalbumin are much higher in fish after they have had a lot of sun, so it could be worthwhile increasing consumption during autumn,” says Nathalie Scheers, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, and researcher on the study. It was Nathalie who first had the inspiration to investigate parvalbumin more closely, after a previous study she did looking at biomarkers for fish consumption. <br /><br />Other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, ALS and Huntington’s disease, are also caused by certain amyloid structures interfering in the brain. The team is therefore keen to research this topic further, to see if the discovery relating to Parkinson’s disease could have implications for other neurodegenerative disorders as well. Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede stresses the importance of finding ways to combat these neurological conditions in the future: <br /><br />“These diseases come with age, and people are living longer and longer. There’s going to be an explosion of these diseases in the future – and the scary part is that we currently have no cures. So we need to follow up on anything that looks promising.” <br /><br />A follow up study, looking at parvalbumin from another angle, is indeed planned for this autumn. Nathalie Scheers, together with Professor Ingrid Undeland, also of Chalmers, will investigate parvalbumin from herring, and its transport in human tissues. <br /><br />“It will be very interesting to study how parvalbumin distributes within human tissues in more depth. There could be some really exciting results.” <br /><br /><strong>More About: Fish and Better Neurological Health</strong><br />The link between higher consumption of fish and better long-term health for the brain has been long established. There is correlation between certain diets and decreased rates of Parkinson’s disease – as well as other neurodegenerative conditions. “Among those who follow a Mediterranean diet, with more fish, one sees lower rates of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s,” says Tony Werner, a PhD student in the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, and lead researcher on the study. This has also been observed in Japan, where seafood forms a central part of the diet. The team is careful to note that no definite links can be established at this point, however. <br /><br /><strong>More About: Amyloids and Aggregation</strong><br />Proteins are long chains of amino acids that fold into specific structures to carry out their function. But sometimes, proteins can fold incorrectly, and get tangled up with other proteins, a process known as aggregation.As these misfolded proteins aggregate together, they create long fibrous structures known as amyloids. Amyloids are not necessarily a bad thing, but can be responsible for various diseases. Some of them can interfere with neurons in the brain, killing those cells, and causing a variety of neurodegenerative conditions.<br /><br /><strong>More About: The Study</strong><br />The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.<br /><a href="">Abundant fish protein inhibits α-synuclein amyloid formation</a><br /><br />Text: Joshua Worth<br />Photo: Johan BodellMon, 23 Apr 2018 07:00:00 +0200 the BIO-researchers!<p><b>​Are carbohydrates good for you, can foods cure allergy and how do we make the earth’s resources last?Chalmers researchers visit the Science Festival in Gothenburg to answer your questions about health, nutrition and sustainability.</b></p>​How does a simple blood sample reveal what you are eating and what your body needs? How can yeast be used to produce fuel? How do we reduce food waste?<br /><br />On Thursday, April 19, researchers from the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers enter the Science Festival’s stage in Nordstan to talk about health, nutrition and sustainability. Take the opportunity to straighten out your question marks in the &quot;Expert Bubbles&quot; where the researchers give you the answers. By each researcher you get a clue that solves the word puzzle. Talk, think and win!<br /><br /><a href="/sv/forskning/popularvetenskap/vetenskapsfestivalen/Sidor/vetenskapsfestivalen.aspx">More about the programme here</a> (in Swedish).Tue, 17 Apr 2018 15:00:00 +0200 of graphene can kill bacteria on implants<p><b>​A tiny layer of graphene flakes becomes a deadly weapon and kills bacteria, stopping infections during procedures such as implant surgery. This is the findings of new research from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently published in the scientific journal Advanced Materials Interfaces.</b></p><p>​Operations for surgical implants, such as hip and knee replacements or dental implants, have increased in recent years. However, in such procedures, there is always a risk of bacterial infection. In the worst case scenario, this can cause the implant to not attach to the skeleton, meaning it must be removed.<br /><br />Bacteria travel around in fluids, such as blood, looking for a surface to cling on to. Once in place, they start to grow and propagate, forming a protective layer, known as a biofilm.<br /><br />A research team at Chalmers has now shown that a layer of vertical graphene flakes forms a protective surface that makes it impossible for bacteria to attach. Instead, bacteria are sliced apart by the sharp graphene flakes and killed. Coating implants with a layer of graphene flakes can therefore help protect the patient against infection, eliminate the need for antibiotic treatment, and reduce the risk of implant rejection. The osseointegration – the process by which the bone structure grow to attach the implant – is not disturbed. In fact, the graphene has been shown to benefit the bone cells.<br /><br />Chalmers is a leader in the area of graphene research, but the biological applications did not begin to materialise until a few years ago. The researchers saw conflicting results in earlier studies. Some showed that graphene damaged the bacteria, others that they were not affected.<br /><br />“We discovered that the key parameter is to orient the graphene vertically. If it is horizontal, the bacteria are not harmed,” says Ivan Mijakovic, Professor at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering.<br /><br />The sharp flakes do not damage human cells. The reason is simple: one bacterium is one micrometer – one thousandth of a millimeter – in diameter, while a human cell is 25 micrometers. So, what constitutes a deadly knife attack for a bacterium, is therefore only a tiny scratch for a human cell.<br /><br />&quot;Graphene has high potential for health applications. But more research is needed before we can claim it is entirely safe. Among other things, we know that graphene does not degrade easily,” says Jie Sun, Associate Professor at the Department of Micro Technology and Nanoscience.<br /><br />Good bacteria are also killed by the graphene. But that’s not a problem, as the effect is localised and the balance of microflora in the body remains undisturbed.<br /><br />&quot;We want to prevent bacteria from creating an infection. Otherwise, you may need antibiotics, which could disrupt the balance of normal bacteria and also enhance the risk of antimicrobial resistance by pathogens,” says Santosh Pandit, postdoc at Biology and Biological Engineering.<br /><br />Vertical flakes of graphene are not a new invention, having existed for a few years. But the Chalmers research teams are the first to use the vertical graphene in this way. The next step for the research team will be to test the graphene flakes further, by coating implant surfaces and studying the effect on animal cells.<br /><br />Chalmers cooperated with <a href="">Wellspect Healthcare</a>, a company which makes catheters and other medical instruments, in this research. They will now continue with a second study. <br /><br />The projects are a part of the national strategic innovation programme SIO Grafen, supported by the Swedish government agencies Vinnova (Sweden’s innovation agency), the Swedish Energy Agency and the Swedish Research Council Formas. The research results are published in Advanced Materials Interfaces: &quot;<a href="">Vertically Aligned Graphene Coating is Bactericidal and Prevents the Formation of Bacterial Biofilms</a>&quot;<br /><br /><strong>The making of vertical graphene</strong><br />Graphene is made of carbon atoms. It is only a single atomic layer thick, and therefore the world's thinnest material. Graphene is made in flakes or films. It is 200 times stronger than steel and has very good conductivity thanks to its rapid electron mobility. Graphene is also extremely sensitive to molecules, which allows it to be used in sensors.<br /><br />Graphene can be made by CVD, or Chemical Vapor Deposition. The method is used to create a thin surface coating on a sample. The sample is placed in a vacuum chamber and heated to a high temperature at the same time as three gases – usually hydrogen, methane and argon – are released into the chamber. The high heat causes gas molecules to react with each other, and a thin layer of carbon atoms is created.<br />To produce vertical graphene forms, a process known as Plasma-Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition, or PECVD, is used. Then, an electric field – a plasma – is applied over the sample, which causes the gas to be ionized near the surface. With the plasma, the layer of carbon grows vertically from the surface, instead of horizontally as with CVD.<br /></p> <div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 21aa3563-502e-4205-bcb8-3e04875a5b8d" id="div_21aa3563-502e-4205-bcb8-3e04875a5b8d" unselectable="on"></div> <div id="vid_21aa3563-502e-4205-bcb8-3e04875a5b8d" unselectable="on" style="display:none"></div></div> <p><br />Text: Mia Malmstedt<br />Photo and video: Johan Bodell<br />Illustration: Yen Strandqvist </p>Mon, 16 Apr 2018 09:00:00 +0200