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Collaborative neurobiology venture

Dementia, Parkinson’s disease, alcoholism, epilepsy. These and many other common and troublesome illnesses are due to the brain not functioning as it should. Now the Faculty of Health Sciences (HU) and University Hospital (US) are marshalling their forces to develop further neurological research.

Fredrik Elinder.“We want to produce neurology research and a department that are as good as possible, on a broad platform. Narrower efforts are conducted at other universities, for example on given illnesses, howevere we have found that a broad platform is the best strategy for Linköping,” says Fredrik Elinder, professor of molecular neurobiology and coordinator for the newly-established Linköping Neurobiology Center.

It began with an application for the publication of national strategic research areas. Financing was not available but the application still received a positive evaluation by the international judges. This led to the Östgötaland County Council and HU subsidising the venture with a special investment of SEK 6 million per year for five years.

The centre now consists of 18 research groups comprising 80-90 researchers with nine professors sitting on the steering committee. These funds will not be used for solitary projects, but rather to assemble a critical mass and to strengthen collaboration between various groups.

Among other things, they want to increase interaction between neurology researchers at LiU via regular activities. Researchers will also have a clearer infrastructure with joint access to equipment and an expert employed to lower the thresholds for more advanced experiments.

Other efforts include participation when recruiting senior researchers, and a post-doctoral programme to attract more qualified competency through international recruitment. The first post-doctoral round involved eleven researchers from ten countries.
Some of the high-profile areas at the centre include dependency research, nerve cell development, and neurodegeneration.
“We’re quite diffuse, and that’s a weakness. But the next five years will show which areas are stronger than others, and which ones will perhaps fall away. Our task is not to control the focus, but to be the oil the cogs,” Elinder says.

Text: Åke Hjelm


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Last updated: 2012-12-10