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Research for life

9 June 2010

What happens in the cells of humans when they developed cancer, diabetes, or some other public health disorder, and how can we prevent it? These are the overarching questions that researchers at the Science for Life Laboratory will be striving to answer. The objective is to create conditions for more reliable diagnoses and better treatment of our major public health diseases.

- This research will help improve human health, but it will also provide opportunities for business and industry to commercialize new research findings, says Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, professor of comparative genomics at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, and the researcher who will help direct the new Science for Life Laboratory – SciLifeLab – in Uppsala.

Together with the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), the Karolinska Institute, and Stockholm University, Uppsala University wants to create a national center for large-scale and technologically advanced research in molecular biology under the joint name of SciLifeLab.

The vision is a world-class research center for research on life. It involves research on genes (genomics), proteins (proteomics), and domestic animal genetics (comparative genomics). These three “platforms,” in turn, will underpin two programs in pathological and evolutionary biology.

- These are central areas where we are already right on the cutting edge in terms of both knowledge and technology, says Kerstin Lindblad-Toh.

As one of the world’s foremost scientists in medical genetics, Kerstin Lindblad-Toh has previously directed the mapping of the genomes of more than 20 mammals in order to understand the human genome. For example, by comparing the genes of healthy and sick dogs, it is possible to find genes that are associated with diseases that also affect humans, such as diabetes, epilepsy, and cancer. The goal is a better understanding of how genes are regulated and how diseases occur.

- With the help of new technology for sequencing genes, we can now address many more and more complex questions about the function of genes and what goes wrong in diseases. This will be an important tool for us at SciLifeLab, says Kerstin Lindblad-Toh.

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