GRANTS. Thanks to a scholarship from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW), Karolina Jabbar will serve for two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the Broad Institute, part of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
“It is a very advantageous and generous scholarship that represents a fantastic opportunity to gain experience in a very special environment at the leading edge of biomedical research,” says Karolina Sjöberg Jabbar.
Jabbar is a specialist doctor in internal medicine at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, specializing in gastrointestinal diseases (gastroenterology). She defended her doctoral thesis last autumn at the Institute of Biomedicine with a dissertation in which she presented a new test for the detection of preliminary stages of pancreatic cancer. The test has already received a lot of attention in Swedish and international media.
Pancreatic cancer is often detected late, resulting in a very poor prognosis and few treatment alternatives. The method developed by Jabbar and her colleagues can identify visible precursors of cancer with a high degree of certainty. The test uses mass spectrometry to measure the presence of mucus protein, mucins, in fluid from the cysts of the pancreas. In one of the studies included in Jabbar’s dissertation, it made the correct diagnosis in 77 out of 79 examined cysts. The method is now being evaluated for possible introduction into the health care system.
“That’s an exceptionally good result for a diagnostic test, and we are very hopeful that the method can be used to detect preliminary stages of cancer. The method can also minimize the risk of unnecessary surgery of benign cysts,” says Jabbar.
She conducted her doctoral studies in Gunnar C. Hansson’s team, where she also studied the presence of both human and bacterial proteins in the large intestine’s protective mucus layer in cases of irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, conditions that she will continue to focus on while in the U.S.
“I was invited to conduct research at Harvard by my external reviewer, Professor Ramnik Xavier, who, like me, is active clinically as a doctor. He conducts groundbreaking research focusing on the molecular biological mechanisms behind inflammatory bowel disease and has published several articles in Nature and Science during the past year alone.”
The Wallenberg Foundation annually announces special postdoctoral scholarships for research at the Broad Institute, which is part of both Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and it also has a similar scholarship for research at Stanford University in California. For the foundation, the aim of the program is to take outstanding young Swedish researchers to these prominent American universities for two years of postdoctoral studies. Researchers in all fields can apply.
The program also includes up to two years of funding after returning home to Sweden. In addition to Karolina Sjöberg Jabbar, six other young researchers received this scholarship this year, five of whom are from Stockholm and one from Uppsala.
- You can read the announcement of the scholarship Karolina Sjöberg Jabbar received here: https://kaw.wallenberg.org/utlysningar/wallenberg-foundation-scholarship-program-postdoctoral-studies-massachusetts-institute
- You can read more about the funding granted here: https://kaw.wallenberg.org/stipendieprogram-20182019
- You can read Karolina Sjöberg Jabbar’s dissertation here: https://gupea.ub.gu.se/handle/2077/56912
TEXT: ELIN LINDSTRÖM CLAESSEN