GRANT. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded Fredrik Bäckhed, Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Gothenburg, the 2016 Torsten Söderberg Academy Professorial Chair in Medicine “for his groundbreaking discoveries regarding the role of intestinal microbiota in the body’s metabolic process.” The grant, which amounts to a total of SEK 10 million, is financed by the Torsten Söderberg Foundation and enables full-time research for five years.
There are approximately 10 times more bacteria in the human intestinal tract than there are cells in the body. The bacteria’s genes complement our own and affect the manner in which we process and absorb nutrients from our diet. The focus of Fredrik Bäckhed’s research has been to examine how intestinal microbiota affects our physiology, and whether their effects may contribute to the development of metabolic diseases. Bäckhed’s research indicates that mice without gut microbiota are resistant to developing obesity.
“It is a great honor and privilege to be awarded this recognition, which is a testimony of the hard work from the entire research team over the past ten years. The Söderberg Professorship provide us opportunities to continue our long-term research into the links between intestinal microbiota and metabolic diseases. In particular, we now have the required resources to address the underlying mechanisms by which diabetes-associated bacteria may contribute to the development of the disease,” explains Fredrik Bäckhed.
Fredrik Bäckhed was born in 1973 and grew up in Getinge, outside Halmstad. In 2002, he received his PhD from the Karolinska Institute. His thesis examined how E. coli bacteria, which are part of normal intestinal microbiota, can cause urinary tract infections. As a post-doc at Washington University in St Louis, he continued to study the how gut microbiota affects physiology and metabolism.
Bäckhed now heads a research team at the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy. His group specializes in how gut microbiota may influence our health. In several studies, Professor Fredrik Bäckhed and his research colleagues have demonstrated that metabolic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and coronary heart disease are directly linked to bacterial changes in our intestines.
Fredrik Bäckhed is also a visiting professor at the University of Copenhagen and has previously been a guest professor at the University of Oslo.
He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences.
Grant Amount: SEK 2 million per year for 5 years, in total SEK 10 million, contributed by the Torsten Söderberg Foundation.
The Professorial Chair in Medicine is drafted and decided upon by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, after a peer review process.
About the Torsten Söderberg Foundation
The Torsten Söderberg Foundation provides funding for scientific research and academic teaching or study, primarily in the fields of economics, medicine, and law. In the last five years, the foundation has awarded an average of SEK 90 million per annum.