Two genomics researchers share the 2017 Björkén Prize

29 November 2017

Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, Professor of Comparative Genomics, and Leif Andersson, Professor of Functional Genomics, have together been awarded the Björkén Prize, Uppsala University’s most prestigious scholarly award.

The Björkén Prize is one of Uppsala University’s top scholarly awards for prominent research. It was first awarded in 1902.

Kerstin Lindblad-Toh is Professor of Comparative Genomics (studies of the complete genomes of different organisms), with a background in human genetics and sequencing, and Leif Andersson is Professor of Functional Genomics. They are awarded the prize for their respective contributions to new fundamental knowledge about vertebrates genetic material and evolution, and about genetic mechanisms which affect individuals’ properties and their risk of developing diseases. Both together and in parallel they have proposed that comparative genetics and genomics contribute important knowledge about species, and lead to increased understanding of evolutionary mechanisms and human traits and diseases.

Several of their studies have involved sequencing entire genomes for different vertebrate species and then asking important biological questions, either by comparing populations or species. These studies span a broad field, from the adaptations of herring and sticklebacks to brackish and fresh waters, to the evolution of Darwin’s finches’ beaks. Studies of inherited variation in domestic animals has led to the discovery of unknown biological phenomena, such as a mutation which increases muscle mass in pigs but probably is of significance to most mammals. Many different types of mutations have been identified.

Leif Andersson and Kerstin Lindblad-Toh have both played an important role in developing genomics into a high profile area for Uppsala and Sweden.

The prize will be awarded at the Winter Conferment Ceremony in January.