INSTITUTE MANAGEMENT. On June 1 Sven Enerbäck will become the new head of the Institute of Biomedicine. The new deputy head of the institute, Marianne Quiding-Järbrink, had already assumed her position on April 1. In an interview with Akademiliv, the new management duo note that they are taking over the management of a very well-run institute.
Several colleagues passed the word to both Marianne and Sven that they would like to see them assume positions in the institute’s management. For both of them, the support of their colleagues was a decisive factor in their acceptance of the nomination.
“It’s interesting, exciting and fantastic to be part of the process of developing operations,” says Sven Enerbäck, who is careful to point out that managing the institute is a team effort:
“Marianne and I have an experienced management team, which also includes Magnus Braide, Claes Gustafsson and our administrative manager, Chatrine Butler. We will also need the support of other competent colleagues, depending on which issues we need to deal with.”
Marianne Quiding-Järbrink agrees:
“I think it’s going to be especially stimulating to create a broader picture for myself of the institute’s operations, to meet all these members of the staff, to see what they are doing and to get a better understanding of the work taking place at the institute.”
Ever increasing clinical significance
The Institute of Biomedicine is almost as large as a small university college, where the institute’s management team and departments are continually in discussions. There are five departments here: Infectious Diseases; Microbiology and Immunology; Pathology and Genetics; Clinical Chemistry and Transfusion Medicine; and Medical Biochemistry and Cell Biology
“A large part of the institute’s research involves trying to understand in more detail how our cells work and identifying the biochemical processes,” Sven says. “It’s largely biological basic research, but today, when we see new cancer drugs that act on specific pathways or individual proteins in these pathways, for example, it becomes clear that this research also has ever increasing clinical significance.”
It’s a successful institute, which so far has succeeded both in terms of recruiting good people and of attracting external funding. The former management has run the institute well, a heritage that Sven and Marianne now want to further advance.
“Our predecessors, Anders Oldfors and Magnus Braide, have managed the institute very well. We also have a capable administration in place, and the institute is run in an orderly fashion. It’s wonderful to be able to continue to develop such a well-run organization,” Sven Enerbäck comments.
Magnus Braide is continuing to serve as acting head of the institute until Sven takes office on June 1.
Sven Enerbäck is a professor of medical genetics, and he leads a research team conducting detailed studies of how the metabolism of fat and muscle is regulated at the molecular level. He’s a physician educated here in Gothenburg, and he defended his doctoral thesis here more than 25 years ago on the transcriptional regulation of genes. After a few years as a postdoctor in the United States–at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine–he came home to Gothenburg and a position as an assistant professor at Chalmers University of Technology. Just a few years later, he applied for and was granted a professorship in medical genetics at the University of Gothenburg. Over the years he has had several assignments, including membership on the Swedish Research Council’s Scientific Council for Medicine and Health. Until last summer he was Sahlgrenska Academy’s assistant dean of research, an assignment he chose to leave after the term of office ended.
“I don’t think it’s good to have the same person in such a post for a long time. What’s needed is someone with other or new ideas to further advance research efforts,” says Sven, who is currently also a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA).
Common background in research
Marianne Quiding-Järbrink is a professor of infectious immunology. She’s a biologist at heart, and she received her doctorate in 1994 at what was then the Institute of Medical Microbiology, which is now part of the Institute of Biomedicine. Her dissertation was on how activated lymphocytes in the intestine through oral vaccination make their way to other parts of the body. During her postdoc at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, she studied immune response to tuberculosis.
“I have essentially always worked with immune responses in mucous membrane tissue, and during the last 10 years, mainly with immune responses to tumors in the intestine and stomach. The overall aim is to identify the various protective lymphocytes in the tumor and to understand how regulatory T cells, a type of down-regulating lymphocytes, affect recruitment of activated lymphocytes into the tumor tissue and the tumor-killing function of these lymphocytes.”
Marianne also has had a series of assignments within the faculty, including within the Academic Appointments Board and as a member of the Swedish Research Council, while Sven was also the chair of the council. She has a strong commitment to education issues and had recently been employed for several years at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, a higher education institution in Singapore that is at the forefront of teaching and learning in higher education.
Better good than fast
They both look forward to collaborating with other institutions and with the Faculty Management.
An important role for the head and deputy head of the institute is also to represent the institute internally, including with regard to building plans, which are moving ahead slowly. Here it is important that day-to-day work is not disrupted more than absolutely necessary, for example, if staff members eventually need to move to replacement premises.
“Our environment can never be static, and it’s good for operations with similar needs to be co-located,” says Sven, who thinks it’s a good idea that several natural sciences institutes will be based at Medicinareberget.
“These types of projects are carried out perhaps once or twice per century. So it’s very important to focus on a good outcome and seeing that the new buildings support our operations. These processes must be allowed to take their time.
Another question for the future, both for the institute and for Sahlgrenska Academy, is student recruitment and the fact that more and more students are choosing not to complete their education.
“It’s no longer as obvious to choose some of our courses, and at the same time we see that students increasingly are taking leave from studies or even dropping out,” says Marianne, and Sven nods in agreement:
“We need to make an effort to ensure that the courses continue to be attractive and that students are given the ability to complete their education. Naturally, student social spaces and opportunities also play a major role in this regard.”
Development of students’ physical environment at Sahlgrenska Academy is an issue that the new management duo is keen to hasten along. Several possible solutions are being discussed within the faculty, and Marianne hopes the proposals can quickly become more concrete.
“We lack good spaces for our students. Who wants to sit with a computer on a bench in a long corridor? I’ve heard from our students that they go off to Chalmers to study, and that’s a little embarrassing. We have to solve this.”
TEXT: ELIN LINDSTRÖM CLAESSEN