Themes for planned challenge-led research initiatives

In the coming years, Uppsala University intends to prioritise a number of areas of future importance stemming from internationally leading research. The priorities have emerged in dialogue with society and activities are conducted in collaboration with national and international actors from various sectors of society.

Table of contents:

Antibiotic resistance

Effective antibiotics must be available in future too. Research at the newly established Uppsala Antibiotic Centre (UAC) will aim for deeper knowledge in areas as diverse as the development of resistance by bacteria, the use of available antibiotics and the development of new antibiotics (both in human medicine and in animal husbandry). The influence of culture and other society-related drivers on antibiotics use, and ways of changing ingrained patterns of behaviour, will also be studied. Through the IMI projects ENABLE and DRIVE, Uppsala University is participating in the development of new antibiotics and the development of new business models in the area of antibiotics.

Our digital future

Research and education in the analysis and management of large quantities of information from different sources has a key role in the future development of society. Digital humanities is being established as a new branch of research, while technological developments offer unprecedented opportunities for creating and managing information. To be able to fully harness the enormous quantity of information that is becoming available, new research is required into the ways in which data is turned into knowledge, and new IT tools are needed that enable practical application, e.g. in the education sector.

The new world of work

The modern world of work, with its new demands and challenges, is a key research area today. New work environment problems have grown up around stress and mental ill-health. Increased demands for flexibility and more temporary employment positions are changing the playing field at workplaces and for individuals. The question of how to promote everyone’s participation in the world of work is significant for society as a whole.


Technological progress allows people to read their medical records online, enables surgeons to operate remotely and makes it possible to identify the activity of individual brain cells. In future there will be great opportunities to improve and simplify patients’ medical care both at home and in care facilities by digital means. The development of new methods for transferring clinically relevant data (such as blood pressure and blood sugar levels) from the patient at home to health care providers has already been initiated and we foresee future progress in diagnostic and treatment software, not least in the psychosocial area in which U-CARE has a leading role.

Medical technology

Medical technology ranges from sensor technology, medical imaging and life support systems, to apps and ‘non-invasive’ surgical methods. Uppsala University and Uppsala University Hospital are combining their forces to build further on earlier Swedish innovations that have resulted in breakthroughs such as the pacemaker, the Gamma Knife and the artificial kidney. Medical technology also has an important role to play in raising the skills level of care staff and the awareness of patients, with the overall objective of achieving health benefits for the individual and society.

Migration, integration and racism

Discrimination and racism deny fundamental human dignity and ultimately pose a threat to society in its entirety. Integration is obstructed by excluding structures. Wars and refugee disasters risk leading to further polarisation. Uppsala University has a broad commitment in this area, building further on established strengths.

Precision medicine

The term ‘precision medicine’ refers to disease prevention and treatment based on each individual’s – or group’s – prognosis and response to treatment. The research area is based on a combination of knowledge about the human genome with new technology for molecular-medical diagnostics and methods that allow information to be extracted from very large quantities of data.

Mental health

With the aim of identifying social and biological causes of mental ill-health in a long-term perspective, Uppsala University and Uppsala University Hospital have together created a structure according to which all young adults assessed in psychiatric services are invited to take part in a longitudinal project. In this project, a basic clinical investigation is combined with a comprehensive assessment of physical health, personality traits and life events. The central plank of the project is a knowledge platform encompassing everything from epidemiological resources to a psychiatric biobank.

New smart materials

Uppsala University has long enjoyed well-developed cooperation with Swedish basic industries in the materials area. A coordinated effort is now needed in this area to increase innovation capacity, develop the value chain and protect Sweden’s internationally prominent position. Uppsala University intends to move forward on an integrated research initiative – SciMaterial – emphasising the systemic perspective throughout the entire chain from natural resources/processes to recycled material.