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World leading research community in coeliac disease

Professor Ludvig M. Sollid and his research group have established the true cause of coeliac disease. The group has been singled out as one of five world-leading research groups at UiO, and will receive substantial funding for its international efforts. 

Image of professor Ludvig M. Sollid, UiO

UiO has singled out Ludvig M. Sollid’s research group as a world-leading research group. Photo: Bente Devik

1-2% of all Norwegians have coeliac disease. This is a partly hereditary disease that places a considerable burden on patients and their next-of-kin. If you develop the disease, you have to change your diet and live with the disease for the rest of your life. 

Coeliac disease can give rise to many different afflictions such as stomach pain, lethargy and poor absorption of nutrients. If you make the correct changes in your diet, you can live without symptoms. However, changing your diet sufficiently is not easy because much of the food we eat here in Norway contains gluten. 

Professor Ludvig M. Sollid and his colleagues have established the cause of the disease.

World-leading research community

Ludvig M. Sollid’s group has recently been awarded funding from UiO to develop world-leading research communities. Funding is granted over the central government budget and Sollid’s group was chosen as one of the five research groups to receive such funding. 

Professor Sollid believes his research community is deemed to be world-leading because for many years its findings have proved to be correct. 

"This has resulted in new and fundamental insights and we have been cited very often", says the professor. "Our findings have formed a platform for the development of new medicines for the treatment of coeliac disease taking place in pharmaceutical companies worldwide."

Post-doctoral research fellow Jorunn Stamnes counts living cells
Post-doctoral research fellow Jorunn Stamnes counts the number of living cells under a microscope. Photo: Øystein Horgmo, UiO.

Useful research that stands the test of time

Professor Sollid wants to use the funding to continue research that will benefit many patients – in the form of either new treatments or improved diagnostic tests. 

"We want to continue the research in order to push back the boundaries of knowledge, and not least to do this in such a way that it stands the test of time".

International focus

Ten nations are represented in Professor Sollid’s research group. He also heads the Centre for Immune Regulation (CIR), a centre of excellence at UiO.

"CIR has a visiting professor programme whereby we invite eminent international researchers from universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Oxford and Cambridge. This allows our young, promising researchers to discuss their findings with the top expertise in the field, and has a positive effect on the researchers’ self-esteem, their attitude to research and their level of ambition", says Sollid.

Challenging to be on the ‘outskirts’

According to Professor Sollid it can be challenging that Norway is on the ‘outskirts’ of Europe. The best candidates often prefer institutions that have a more central location. 

"In the case of the most recent research position we advertised, the person who headed the shortlist was offered the position, but chose instead to accept a post at Oxford. In addition, the best universities constantly host seminars and lectures given by leading visiting researchers, and it’s much more difficult to accomplish this in Norway".

Ludvig M. Sollid regards the award as significant and very gratifying.

"It’s important because now we have the funding that will enable us to bring another leading research group in our field to Oslo. And of course we can also continue our own research".

When asked what his dream as a researcher is, Professor Sollid answers: 

"I think it must be to continue doing exactly what I’m doing right now".

 

By Thomas Olafsen
Published June 23, 2015 11:27 AM - Last modified July 1, 2015 9:19 AM