Backing for new cardiac research environment
11 February 2020
Thanks to a donation from the Ålandic businessman Anders Wiklöf, Uppsala University can invest in a new cardiac research environment based on data from large-scale population registers and biobanks.
Sweden is a country with unique prospects for medical “big data” research. This is thanks to the patient information collected in medical registers covering the entire population, and to a long tradition of major population studies with voluntary research subjects followed over decades.
Johan Sundström, cardiologist and Professor of Epidemiology at Uppsala University, is to head the research environment, which will be named “the Anders Wiklöf Institute for Heart Research”. For a decade, he has been leading a national initiative to coordinate all Sweden’s population studies, with the aim of paving the way for world-leading cardiovascular research.
“Anders Wiklöf’s contribution represents a decisive opportunity for our research: to set up a focused, large-scale research initiative in cardiovascular diseases so that we can predict and prevent them better. For me as a researcher, Anders Wiklöf’s interest in, and knowledge of, these matters is also especially inspiring. My ambition is for us, in five years’ time, to have identified new factors precipitating heart attacks and contributing to other cardiovascular diseases, and thereby to be able to predict and prevent them in time,” Sundström says.
Making the vast quantities of data underpinning this research usable requires extensive processing by experts in a range of disciplines. Also required are new analytical methods, including artificial intelligence (AI), and storage and access that meet the most stringent reliability and accuracy standards.
“This is an extremely important donation to Uppsala University’s internationally successful cardiovascular research. It will boost the scope for making use of our unique Swedish registers and biobanks, says Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson.
“Today, cardiovascular diseases cause 31 per cent of all deaths. Anders Wiklöf’s donation is strategically important for accelerating our research, to benefit human health globally, as well as in the Nordic countries.”
Anders Wiklöf, the donor, is looking forward to following developments in the new research environment.
“For me personally, it’s thrilling to get the chance, through Uppsala University’s well-qualified researchers, to gain an in-depth understanding of this vital area,” Wiklöf says.
“With my good friends Professor Dag Nyman (former consultant at Åland Central Hospital) and Uppsala University’s Honorary member and Doctor Anders Wall (who has long supported the University in various ways), I’ve discussed my decision to provide long-term support for this vitally important research area. I’m really looking forward to following the progress of this exciting initiative, which may come to be crucially important for a huge number of people.”
The donor: Anders Wiklöf
Councillor of Commerce and Honorary Doctor of Economics Anders Wiklöf is an Ålandic businessman and full owner of the Wiklöf Holding group, currently the Nordic countries’ largest sole proprietorship. The group comprises more than 20 companies in such sectors as convenience goods and wholesale trade in the Baltic Sea region, hotels, building and construction, and Skärgårdshavets Helikoptertjänst (SHT), the regional medical and ambulance helicopter company . Wiklöf is also the principal owner of the listed Bank of Åland. In 1989, Wiklöf founded Östersjöfonden (The Baltic Sea Fund).