Jens Nielsen, Professor at the Divisison of Systems and Synthetic Biology at Chalmers.
The Highly Cited Researchers list identifies scientists who have demonstrated significant influence through publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. The list is compiled by Clarivate and covers 21 different research categories.
Jens Nielsen is one of 47 Swedish researchers on the list. He has been active in the field of metabolic engineering for almost 30 years, with the aim to produce valuable compounds in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. He is also using his unique approach and methods to study metabolism in humans, with specific interest in metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and various cancers.
"Always strive to do research that can impact society"
“My motivation is to assist in developing technologies that can be of value to and that can impact the society. I think our work is highly cited because of this. But I was also one of the pioneers in the field of systems biology, which has now has grown to become a large research field. This of course causes a lot of citation even of some of my older papers,” says Jens Nielsen.
His research covers quite a broad area but is all related to metabolism. His work on engineering yeast can lead to production of new healthy foods or food ingredients, new biofuels, and new therapeutics. His research on the gut microbiome can lead to the identification of new bacteria that can be used as probiotics for improving human health. And his studies on cancer metabolism can be used for identification of novel biomarkers and potentially new treatment strategies.
Research turns into companies and products
“I am always thinking of the problem to solve first and then I go back and see how we can use our scientific toolbox to address this problem. In some cases, we end up doing detours as we need to dig deeper and need to get fundamental understanding of e.g., yeast cell metabolism, but I always ensure that we return and make sure that we have focus on addressing the original question,” says Jens Nielsen continuing:
“It motivates me tremendously that much of the research we have carried out in my research group has translated to start-up companies or to large companies, and some has resulted in new products on the market. And hopefully we will see more of this kind of products in the future.”
What does a researcher need to succeed in their field according to you?
“Stay focused, but still open minded! You can learn a lot from other disciplines and other researchers that you can integrate in your own work. I am also a very great fan of collaboration. I find it stimulating to discuss research problems with colleagues and research collaborators. This is also why I have found it interesting to work closely with industry throughout my career. Through these collaborations I have learned about some of the challenges the industry is having in improving their production.”
Text: Susanne Nilsson Lindh
Photo: Johan Bodell
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