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Millions donated to gene research to create new Swedish global stars

2010-02-25

The Beijer Laboratory at Uppsala University has received a SEK 10.8 million from the Kjell and Märta Beijer Foundation. The donation, distributed across three years, goes to research in genomics, research on genes, and neuroscience.

Research on human genes is revolutionizing the potential to track and treat hereditary diseases at an early stage, disorders like rheumatism, schizophrenia, and various types of cancer. Every day there are new discoveries from research teams around the world. Uppsala University researchers have been among the world elite for many years in genetic research, and part of the explanation is the support the Beijer Laboratory has received from the Beijer Foundation since 1991, when the laboratory was established. The aggregate donations of about SEK 70 million are one of the largest gifts to research received by Uppsala University in modern times. The resources made it attractive for skilled Swedish gene researchers to return to Sweden, primarily from the US. Today these scientists are world leaders in their fields, and their discoveries have resulted in new companies.

Support from the Beijer Foundation has previously been concentrated in genetic research, but as of this year they are choosing also to include research on brain functions. Neuroscientific studies of phenomena like memories and dreams open up a fascinating world. Also new this year is the fact that the donations are directed individually to researchers that are deemed to have a good chance of becoming ‘global stars.’

“Support from the Beijer Foundation has certainly contributed to placing Uppsala and Sweden on the world map of genetic research,” says Professor Ulf Pettersson, who has directed the Beijer Laboratory from its inception.

“It has been extremely rewarding for our foundation and for me personally to be able to follow the exciting research conducted at the Beijer Laboratory. I am delighted to say that the funding has done a tremendous amount of good,” says Anders Wall, who took the initiative for the foundation and serves as its president.