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Leif Wide awarded this year’s Björkén Prize

23 September 2014

Leif Wide, professor emeritus of endocrine biochemistry at Uppsala University and the man behind modern pregnancy tests among other things, has been awarded this year’s Björkén Prize.

The Björkén Prize is one of Uppsala University’s largest scientific prizes for outstanding research. It was awarded for the first time in 1902.

This year’s prize has been awarded to Leif Wide, professor emeritus at the Department of Medical Sciences. Together with his colleagues Gunnar Johansson and Hans Bennich he discovered immunoglobulin E, which has an important role in our immune systems. The discovery led to a radical change in medicine through the allergy test he also developed. This made it possible to identify the substances which lead to allergies in humans. One of his most important accomplishments was the development of hypersensitive so-called sandwich tests for immune detection. These became crucial for the commercialization of the discovery. Wide’s studies became the basis for the company Pharmacia Diagnostics which quickly developed into one of Uppsala’s cutting edge companies. The company is still a leader in allergy tests.

Leif Wide is also known for the development of the first non-biological pregnancy test. It was of great practical significance and led to a paradigm shift in gynecology. He is still an active scientist making important contributions to science. Among his later inventions are methods for analyzing protein heterogeneity, which among other things is used to identify doping using protein medications.

Prize citation: Leif Wide is awarded the prize for his many groundbreaking inventions, including world-leading methods in allergy diagnostics and modern pregnancy tests. Leif Wide’s research has had enormous impact in health care and in society as a whole.

The prize sum is SEK 300,000 and is handed over at the Winter Conferment Ceremony.