PALS: A Program for Future Academic Leaders in Swedish Life Science

The national Program for Academic leaders in Life Science (PALS) is an official collaboration between SciLifeLab, the DDLS Program and the four WCMM Molecular Medicine Centers.

PALS follows the success and track record of the previous WCMM and SciLifeLab collaboration termed NMMP (National Molecular Medicine Fellows Program). With PALS, 10 universities as well as the Museum of Natural History are now part of the collaboration, expanding the scope of the collaboration from molecular medicine to also include the diverse areas of life science that the data-driven research communities represent.

PALS offers excellent opportunities for experimental and computational scientists to meet in order to establish multi-disciplinary collaborations. The future leaders of Swedish life science can thereby establish strong national networks that could last for years to come and that will broadly enrich opportunities for excellence in life science.

The collaboration is a catalyst and plays a national role in the life science sector across Sweden, leading also to strong external collaborations with industry, environmental groups and health care providers as well as the global research community.

Many of our group leaders have been trained at the best universities and laboratories in the world, and represent a major addition of cutting-edge expertise and talent to the Swedish life science sector.

Funding

PALS is co-funded by a SEK 20 million grant from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (2024-2028), supporting a deep and broad national multidisciplinary research community that creates powerful links and synergies in life science.

PALS Objectives for 2024-2028

PALS has the following main objectives for the time period of 2024-2028, to further strengthen the research network and to foster the next generation of research group leaders:

  • Continue with the successful tradition of a major annual meeting including all fellows, as established within the NMMP. Rotate the responsibility for the meetings across WCMM, SciLifeLab and DDLS sites. We expect that each meeting will feature joint general sessions of interest to all fellows, but also specific parallel sessions tailored to the diverse interest areas of specific fellow communities.
  • Promote additional scientific interactions between the curiosity-driven, technology-driven and data-driven researchers, as well as translational and clinical scientists, through support of new, innovative, and cross-disciplinary research collaborations and technology/knowledge/data transfer in the context of e.g. joint research projects or training/workshop events.
  • Provide new fellows with information about SciLifeLab and other Swedish research infrastructures, computational infrastructures and data.

PALS Steering Group

The PALS Steering Group, consisting of directors and co-directors from the four WCMMs and SciLifeLab, also includes representatives from the DDLS sites as well as fellow representatives. The steering group will jointly take decisions to specify the activities for the time period of 2024-2028.

Members of the steering group

WCMTM Gothenburg:
Gustav Smith, Director
Margit Mahlapuu, Co-director

WCMM Linköping
David Engblom, Director
Fredrik Elinder, Co-Director

WCMM Lund
Gunilla Westergren-Thorsson, Director
Lars Dahlin & Kristian Pietras, Co-directors

WCMM Umeå:
Andrei Chabes, Director
Pernilla Wikström, Co-director

SciLifeLab:
Olli Kallioniemi, Director
Mia Phillipson, Co-director
Per Ljungdahl, Campus Solna Director
Aristidis Moustakas, Scientific Director Uppsala

DDLS:
Olli Kallioniemi, Director
Director of Research School (TBD)

Fellow reference group (adjunct to the SG):
Cemal Erdem (UmU, DDLS) & Abhishek Niroula (GU, DDLS)
Alexandra Teleki (UU, SciLifeLab) & Lars Behrendt (UU, SciLifeLab)
Silvia Remeseiro (UmU, WCMM) & Claudio Cantù (LiU, WCMM)

Coordination

Camilla Skånberg, Coordinator WCMTM Gothenburg
Charbel Sader, Communication officer WCMTM Gothenburg
Disa Larsson Hammarlöf, Coordinator SciLifeLab
Lisa Dobrosch, Coordinator WCMM Linköping
Lisa Karlsson, Coordinator WCMM Lund
Mikael Stiernstedt, Coordinator WCMM Umeå
Titti Ekegren, Coordinator DDLS

The Collaboration so Far – a Brief History

In 2017, a collaborative program was established between the four Wallenberg centers (WCMMs) and SciLifeLab under the name “National Molecular Medicine Fellows Program” (NMMP). Over the years, the four sites of WCMM and SciLifeLab have recruited 130 young group leaders, many from world-leading international universities, thereby adding to the strength and excellence in life science and molecular medicine research in Sweden.

Funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, NMMP has over the last five years contributed to increased collaboration between the fellows and their host environments.

NMMP has organized five annual conferences and provided a platform for laboratory visits, exchange of personnel and seed funding for collaborations between fellows. Despite the pandemic period, this has already generated 16 co-authored collaborative publications that may not have otherwise taken shape, and more are expected.

The annual conferences have focused on thematic scientific topics as well as introducing Swedish research infrastructure to the fellows and engaging the fellows in networking activities and offering leadership training.

The program has resulted in 27 collaborations, funded with seed money from the NMMP program, defined as collaborations across two or more WCMM sites and/or SciLifeLab.

The seed-funded projects have allowed our fellows to conduct research visits, exchange of samples and protocols, generate new preliminary data to be used in follow-up projects, and get joint project grants.

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