Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation has granted funding to the Program for Academic Leaders in Life Science (PALS). The program is a collaborative effort with SciLifeLab, SciLifeLab & Wallenberg National Program for Data-Driven Life Science (DDLS), and the four Wallenberg Centers for Molecular Medicine (WCMM). The aim of the program is to form a network for young group leaders in experimental, clinical, or computational life science and for them to engage in multi-disciplinary collaborations.
The funding of SEK 20 million is granted for the period 2024 to 2028. PALS follows the success and track record of the previous WCMM and SciLifeLab collaboration termed NMMP (National Molecular Medicine Fellows Program). During the next period, the partners will expand the scope of the collaboration to include the diverse areas of life science that SciLifeLab and DDLS communities represent, with the PALS program covering 10 universities (Chalmers, GU, KI, KTH, LiU, LU, NRM, SLU, SU, UmU, and UU) and the Swedish Museum of Natural History (NRM).
“We see the Program for Academic Leaders in Life Science (PALS) as an important foundation for the development of life science in Sweden. The funding aims to support bridging the various national fellows’ programs together”, says Göran Sandberg, Executive Director of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.
The original collaborative program between the four Wallenberg centers (WCMMs) and SciLifeLab was established in 2017. Over the years, the four sites of WCMM and SciLifeLab have together 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. The network represents an important community of excellent young research group leaders in Sweden, who will network across university boundaries. As the hope is that the fellows will play leading roles in life science in Sweden, scientific connections among this network could have deep and long-term significance.
“The Program for Academic Leaders in Life Science (PALS) will strengthen Swedish life science and empower different types of multi-disciplinary connections between the young PIs, such as those between data-driven and experimental scientists; pre-clinical and clinical investigators and; across diverse areas of life science. This could lead to unexpected high-profile collaborations and benefit to different areas of society”, says Olli Kallioniemi, Director SciLifeLab.
The focus of the program is to:
- Continue with the successful tradition of a major annual meeting for all fellows. The responsibility for the meetings is rotated between 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 fellows to initiate new, innovative, and cross-disciplinary research collaborations and technology/knowledge/data transfer in the context of research projects or training and workshops organized jointly by the research fellows with seed funding from the program.
- Ensure interaction and promote collaboration between the fellow community and the SciLifeLab infrastructure.
- Promote collaborations between curiosity-driven, technology-driven and data-driven researchers, as well as translational and clinical scientists.
“One objective of the program is to foster the next generation of research group leaders and to connect them with competence and know-how available at Sweden’s research infrastructures, computational infrastructures, and support for data-management support. This way, researchers of the program will have a competitive edge, and contribute to strengthening Sweden’s position as a life science nation, says Gunilla Westergren-Thorsson, Professor, WCMM-Wallenberg Centre for Molecular Medicine and Director WCMM Lund.