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FRIPRO Toppforsk for three medical projects

Karl-Johan Malmberg, Hua Hu and Tor Erik Rusten are the leaders for the three medical projects receiving funding. Malmberg and the University of Oslo received a visit from the new Minister of Research and Higher Education.

Professor Kalle Malmberg showing the Minister, the Research Council of Norway, the Rector and the Dean, etc. around the research environment’s premises. Photo: Rosseland, UiO

When FRIPRO Toppforsk (FRIPRO Elite Research Environments) was announced, Professor Kalle Malmberg received a visit from the new Minister of Research and Higher Education, Iselin Nybø.

Professor Malmberg’s research group is located in the Research Building at the Norwegian Radium Hospital. Like much of the research conducted at the Faculty, Professor Malmberg’s project is also closely integrated with the Oslo University Hospital.

"The ultimate aim and driving force behind this research is to benefit the patients”, emphasised Professor Malmberg as he eagerly presented his skilled project participants and some of the things that they are conducting research on. The research being conducted under Professor Malmberg’s project has the potential to result in completely new types of cancer treatment in the future. 

A national team of top researchers

The Director of the Research Council of Norway, John-Arne, explained that the Research Council and FRIPRO Toppforsk are advancing research which ranks in the global elite. Their project is also being referred to as “the joint initiative”. In addition to the fact that expert panels select those projects which will receive funding, strategic assessments are made by those departments which are also involved in funding such environments. He explained: “Together we are creating a national team of researchers which could be good for Norway.” The UiO (University of Oslo) was awarded 9 out of a total of 24 projects nationally (in Norwegian).

High quality research at the Faculty

Deputy Dean of Research, Hilde Nebb, is extremely proud of the Faculty’s skilled researchers. She says: “There were many excellent applications from the Faculty this year. 17 researchers threw themselves into competition, and ten of them received very good assessments. They were thus in the very top of the league. It is a pity that funding cannot be granted to even more of them since there are so many strong research environments here at the Faculty.” She explains that the Research Council of Norway is responsible for advertising the funding and for the academic assessment of applications by its panels of international experts in conjunction with the various research departments. 

“In addition to the Research Council’s assessment criteria, the Faculty has also placed special emphasis on the UiO’s and its own strategic guidelines. The potential of the project to develop a leading international research environment over time is important, and it will simultaneously contribute towards promoting good relations between local, regional and interfaculty research environments,” explains Professor Nebb.

On this occasion we have the opportunity to fund established, often young, researchers who have the future in front of them and who should have good opportunities for becoming internationally competitive and receiving ERC grants from the EU in a few years’ time,” says Hilde Nebb.

Positive developments

Professor Nebb envisages positive developments with many good top research environments at the Faculty. One of our advantages is that our research environments are closely integrated with the research being conducted at our university hospitals, especially the OUS (Oslo University Hospital). When combined with other national and international cooperative relationships and the recruitment/mobility of young researchers, this results in pioneering research and creates networks and competitiveness. This means that we now have a stronger place in the competition for national and international funds.

Faculty of Medicine projects which received funding

Martinotti Cells: From subcellular properties to behaviour 

Project Manager: Hua Hu, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences

This project will look at how complex brain functions occur as a result of activity in the nerve cells - the basic “elements/components” of the brain.  They will study particular types of brain cell in the cerebral cortex, Martinotti cells, to see what role these play in the sense of vision. 

Deciphering Tumour-host Biology 

Project Manager: Tor Erik Rusten, Institute of Clinical Medicine

This project will study cancer tumours. They will use banana flies as a modelling system. The researchers will be looking closely at two things:

They are going to look at how the environment surrounding cancer tumours affects the growth of the tumour.

They will also be trying to find out how cancer tumours cause cachexia. 

Cachexia is a wasting syndrome where patients loose significant amounts of fatty tissue and muscle. It is believed that about 30% of cancer patients die from cachexia caused by cancer.    

Programming natural killer cell function through organelle communication

Project Manager: Karl-Johan (Kalle) Malmberg, Institute of Clinical Medicine

Natural killer cells are cells in the innate immune system which can effectively kill virus-infected cells and cancer cells. In this project Karl-Johan Malmberg and his project team are aiming to understand the mechanisms behind the ability of killer cells to kill target cells. The researchers will then use this knowledge to develop new strategies for cancer treatment using immune therapy.  

View the photos from the Minister’s visit here:

By Silje M. Kile Rosseland
Published Feb. 5, 2018 3:50 PM - Last modified Feb. 7, 2018 9:47 AM