Nordic network in Nobel Prize–winning technology

A new Danish-Swedish research alliance wants to advance understanding of how biological molecules look and behave. With support from the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, scientists at four universities in Denmark and Sweden will join forces to create a Nordic network in cryo-electron microscopy, whose developers were awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

2018.01.24 | Lisbeth Heilesen

Figure: Thomas Boesen

The CryoNet network will bring together experts in cryo-electron microscopy at universities in Aarhus, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Umeå. A Danish-Swedish partnership between the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation will fund the network. Each foundation has awarded a grant of €1 million over four years for CryoNet.

The CryoNet network will bring together experts in cryo-electron microscopy at universities in Aarhus, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Umeå. A Danish-Swedish partnership between the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation will fund the network. Each foundation has awarded a grant of €1 million over 4 years for CryoNet.

By determining the structures of proteins, scientists can much better understand central questions of biology related to health and disease and apply this information to design new drugs.

Within CryoNet, the participating universities will exchange researchers to rapidly absorb and share new methods and knowledge. CryoNet will also offer training in cryo-electron microscopy and arrange open courses and seminars to benefit the entire research community in the Nordic region and beyond.

Poul Nissen, Director of the neuroscience center DANDRITE, foresees many breakthroughs in for example neuroscience, molecular medicine and biotechnology in the years to come from the cryo-EM research supported by cryoNET and adds: “The generous support from CryoNET for our cryo-EM facilities in Aarhusand network activities with Copenhagen, Stockholm and Umeå helps us in the capacity building and training of young researchers to challenge new frontiers in life sciences and build strong ties and collaborations with leading researchers across the world.”

Jørgen Kjems, Director of Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO), says: “We are extremely excited about hosting this high-resolution imaging technology at iNANO. It will allow our scientists to study how nature’s building blocks are working together in our cells and exploit these principles to create nanoscale robots for the industry and targeted nanomedicine to fight major human disease. The CryoNet will enable many more scientist from both academia and industry to access this new world of possibilities.“


The foundations promote collaborations across nation borders

Both foundations have previously awarded grants to individual cryo-electron microscopy platforms in Denmark and Sweden. In supporting CryoNet, the foundations now seek to integrate the platforms to promote collaboration and knowledge sharing across national borders. One main goal is to help establish state-of-the-art cryo-electron microscopy as a strong pillar of Nordic life science research.

Birgitte Nauntofte, CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, says: “We have formed a promising partnership with the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation in launching CryoNet. Cryo-electron microscopy has opened up new opportunities for understanding the architecture and functions of proteins. Our aim in supporting the establishment of this new Danish-Swedish network is to encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing, thereby strengthening research and education within cryo-electron microscopy in the Nordic region.” 

Göran Sandberg, Executive Director of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, says: “By uniting cryo-electron microscopy strongholds in Denmark and Sweden, CryoNet will serve as an important vehicle for exchanging people, knowledge and ideas across these countries. Through this network of leading structural biologists and our collaboration with the Novo Nordisk Foundation, we want to advance research collaboration across borders and significantly advance research of the highest excellence.”

About the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation

The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation was established in 1917. The Foundation’s aim is to benefit Sweden by supporting Swedish basic research and education, mainly in medicine, technology and the natural sciences.The Foundation achieves this by awarding grants to excellent researchers and for projects.

Since 1917, the Foundation has awarded SEK 25 billion in grants for research and education, of which SEK 1.8 billion has been awarded annually in recent years, making the Foundation the largest private funder of scientific research in Sweden and one of the largest in Europe.
kaw.wallenberg.org/en

About the Novo Nordisk Foundation
The Novo Nordisk Foundation is an independent Danish foundation with corporate interests. It has two objectives: 1) to provide a stable basis for the commercial and research activities of the companies in the Novo Group; and 2) to support scientific, humanitarian and social causes.

The vision of the Foundation is to contribute significantly to research and development that improves the health and welfare of people. Since 2010, the Foundation has donated more than DKK 15 billion (€2 billion), primarily for research at public institutions and hospitals in Denmark and the other Nordic countries as well as treatment of diabetes. Read more at www.novonordiskfoundation.com.


Further information, please contact

Professor Poul Nissen
DANDRITE/Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
Aarhus University, Denmark
pn@mbg.au.dk – +45 2899 2295

Professor Jørgen Kjems
iNANO/Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
Aarhus University, Denmark
jk@mbg.au.dk - +45 28992086

Carina Dahlberg, Communicator 
Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
+46 70 273 68 50, carina.dahlberg@wfab.se

Christian Mostrup Scheel, Senior Press Officer
Novo Nordisk Foundation
+45 3067 4805, cims@novo.dk

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