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Fernström Prize to LiU Researcher in Child Allergies

Maria Jenmalm, senior researcher at the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine is recipient of the 2007 Fernström Prize which honors her as a "young, highly promising and successful researcher". Her scientific specialty is the primary immune response in the field of Child Allergies.

Several studies indicate that early events and environments contribute to the development of allergy. The immune system seems to enter a rut in which it continues for a long time. It is important that we learn more about how young immune systems function," says Maria Jenmalm.

Today the risk of developing an allergy is 3 to 4 times greater than it was forty or fifty years ago. A third of all Swedish children suffer from some form of allergy.

The research agenda of Maria Jenmalm and her colleagues include a comparative study of Swedish and Estonian children.

"We note that the colon flora of Estonian youngsters differ from their Swedish counterparts, and that the Estonian group has fewer instances of allergy.

A recent study co-authored by colleagues at Karolinska Institutet, KI, indicates that a supplement of probiotic lactobacilli given to Swedish children diminishes a predilection to develop allergy.

Other scientific studies report a rise in the number of allergies in Poland and the former East Germany since these nations joined the Western bloc. The trend is most prominent in the latter; since its reunification with West Germany," Maria Jenmalm says.

"We are also interested to learn how the immune response of the expectant mother changes during pregnancy, and if or how this influences the fetus. We also are investigating differences in the immune response of allergic and non-allergic gravid women.

This prestigious award brings not only honor but a monetary prize as well: 100 000 kronor (approx 11000 euro).

"Naturally I am delighted to have my research selected for this prize. It is a recognition that our work is significant and well-received by the scientific community," says a happy Maria Jenmalm.

Eric K. Fernström, who donated funds for the prize bearing his name, was a Swedish shipowner and philanthropist. The overall Prize consisted of a Nordic Fernström Prize of one million Swedish kronor and six subprizes, one to each of the six medical faculties in Sweden who select six winners.


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Last updated: 2009-06-03