ELECTION OF PRO-DEAN. Professor Henrik Hagberg is now being put forward as the Nomination Committee’s candidate for the assignment as Pro-Dean. He is an internationally renowned researcher in perinatal brain injury at the Institute of Clinical Sciences. Among other things, as Pro-Dean he would like to improve conditions for research meetings between medicine, health sciences and odontology. He also aims to strengthen the academic environment in the Sahlgrenska Academy campus at Östra Sjukhuset (Eastern Hospital).
The Nomination Committee, in consultation with Vice-Chancellor Eva Wiberg, was unanimous in selecting Henrik Hagberg as candidate for the assignment as the new pro-Dean of Sahlgrenska Academy.
“I am pleased and proud that the nomination committee has proposed me as its candidate. Agneta Holmäng is a capable person, and I think it would be enjoyable to work with her,” says Henrik Hagberg, who for some years has been Section Head of Women and Children at the Institute of Clinical Sciences.
“Agneta and I have previously participated in the same research networks, and it has always been stimulating to work with her. She is a real faculty maven with extensive management experience, and I expect that I can learn a lot from her.”
A prominent clinical scientist
Although he has not previously been part of the Faculty Management, he has engaged in academy-wide issues for a long period of time: first within the former research council at the medical faculty, and in recent years as a board member of Hälso-sam (Health-sam).
Henrik Hagberg defended his doctor’s thesis in 1985, at the erstwhile Department of Histology in Gothenburg. He has devoted much of his time to clinical work at Östra Sjukhuset. He has served as Professor of Obstetrics and Perinatology since 2000. As a researcher, he is very well known within his field, perinatal brain injury, with 300 original articles that are cited extensively. His H-index* is 73. For the duration of a year he was a Visiting Professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and for two years he was employed as Professor at Imperial College in London. Both rank among the top six higher education institutions in the world.
An emphasis on health sciences
“I began on a preclinical track, but now I have a clear clinical profile. You might say Agneta has made the journey in the other direction, and we complement each other well. The more clinical departments will become a natural focus for me, including the Institute of Health and Care Sciences, where there is very good research that we need to give more emphasis.”
What do you mean?
“It’s important that we embrace the value of being an academy with six institutes. In the latest announcement of ALF project funding, I noted that researchers from Health and Care Sciences was the project manager for only four applications, one of which was granted. We have many talented researchers at the Institute of Health and Care Sciences, and by giving their research more prominence, we can stimulate increased collaboration with the medical institutes, which would benefit the entire faculty.”
As an example, Henrik mentions how his own perinatal medicine research team gained new and important dimensions in large clinical studies through collaboration with nursing sciences competence, where researchers in nursing contributed expertise in measuring quality of care and patients’ experiences. Similarly, closer collaboration between medical and odontological research stimulates both areas, he points out. For example, inflammation researchers at the different institutes can learn from each other.
“It’s in the nature of researchers to want immerse themselves in their own specific area, and that is not a bad thing since it often leads to success. But by looking around and seeing what other researchers are doing, you can get new insights – ‘oh, so you do it that way’ – and you can get many ideas from each other,” he says.
Better gender balance
As Pro-Dean, he and Agneta Holmäng will work in parallel and in synch on certain issues. Among other things, they totally agree that there are good opportunities to increase donations to Sahlgrenska Academy research from private foundations. He also has his own issues that he thinks are important to the future of Sahlgrenska Academy that he would like to promote. One such issue is stimulating more research collaboration across departmental boundaries as well as overcoming the differences he thinks he sometimes sees between the clinical and preclinical and where there is a great potential to conduct joint translational research projects.
He also wants to even out the lopsided distribution according to gender:
“In recent years we’ve been able to see that things have gone in the right direction when it comes to the allocation of ALF funds, but in the last application round, we could unfortunately attest that it was primarily men who received the large grants. We have to get to the bottom of why that is the case. What preconditions do female researchers lack in order to go all the way? This is an issue that affects the future of the academy. If we are to produce the best research, we need to give everyone the best potential for success.”
Another important issue for Henrik is developing the academic environment of Sahlgrenska Academy’s two other campuses – at Mölndal Hospital and at Östra:
“Today we see a strong concentration at Medicinareberget, Hälsovetarbacken and Sahlgrenska University Hospital, and if the plans for Sahlgrenska Life become a reality, the environment will be further strengthened, which is great. At the same time, it’s important to remember that we have two more campuses,” says Henrik.
Advocating a research building at Östra
He is happy to see that Mölndal got the new R-building, which he is convinced will give a big boost to research on musculoskeletal systems. New structures also are needed at Östra to encourage the strong clinical research already being conducted at the hospital site:
“Clinical research at Östra accounts for about 15 percent of the faculty’s research production and attracts 15 percent of the external research funding. Now when the hospital consolidates all health services for women and children at Östra, it’s important that we also are visionary and create the conditions needed to recruit really good clinical researchers in the future.”
Sahlgrenska Academy is at the starting line for a new pilot study that will investigate what conditions are needed to strengthen the academic environment at Östra. Some argue that it would be best to strengthen the integrated research structure at Östra, but Henrik Hagberg is personally convinced that the integrated solution will not be sufficient. He thinks what’s needed is a special, collective research building and that future discussions will indicate how big this building needs to be.
Gray-area funds can free up more ALF funds
Henrik Hagberg also wants to work on a comprehensive plan to strengthen the potential for clinical research. Through the various registries that are available, it has become cheaper and easier to do randomized and controlled studies, which provide knowledge on how patients can best be handled and that improve the quality of both care and treatment.
“Today, much of this research is financed with ALF funds, but because the results of that research directly guide clinical activity, there is an argument for allowing gray-area funds to pay for part of the costs of these studies. As I see it, there is room for that. In that way a major portion of ALF’s funds could be used for more translational projects or strategic initiatives,” he says.
If Henrik Hagberg is elected as Pro-Dean, he expects to spend at least 50 percent of his time on the assignment, and he will need to cut back on research, teaching and clinical activities. As far as research is concerned, he has great confidence that the colleagues who make up his team will assume the responsibility.
Currently work is underway to prepare the faculty register of voters. The advisory election will be held between 28 February and 11 March, and the election results will then be known a few days later.
You can read Henrik Hagberg’s CV here: https://gubox.box.com/s/ai412zbs2dyuq95uhyedvbvv2fcz5ye7
TEXT: ELIN LINDSTRÖM CLAESSEN
PHOTO: THOMAS JOHANSSON
*Footnote: The H-index is a measurement that describes both the productivity and the scope of publication of a researcher or academic. A high H-index rating indicates both high productivity and broad scope. Briefly, an H-index of 10 means that a person has published at least 10 articles, all of which have been cited at least 10 times.