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2014 Grants for female postdoctoral researchers in the natural sciences
Research grants to improve the lives of the hearing-impaired and people with bowel disease

Better treatment of patients with inflammatory bowel disease and new technologies that give people their hearing back. These are the aims of the two female natural scientists awarded the annual Hasselblad Foundation grants.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Hasselblad Foundation has allocated research grants to female natural scientists. This year’s grants, worth SEK 1 million each, go to Chalmers’ researcher Sabine Reinfeldt, and Malin Johansson at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg.

“I want to use technology to help people. That’s why I chose to study medical technology. It is very satisfying meeting people who try our hearing aid for the first time. It can be someone who hears very poorly, who gets their normal hearing back,” says Sabine Reinfeldt, research assistant for the group Medical Signals and Systems at Chalmers.

No more bolts sticking out

Sabine Reinfeldt is researching a completely new type of hearing implant that can be used by persons suffering from chronic ear inflammation, bone disease or malformations impairing hearing. The new technology is an innovation based on the hearing aid developed in the late 70s. The device is attached to the skull with titanium screws and hearing occurs through vibrations transmitted through the skull.

“The main advantage with the new device is that the wearer doesn’t need bolts through the skin. Today’s hearing aids mean you have to take care of the skin around the bolts every day to avoid complications. In addition, it can come loose.”

Grant enables specialisation and networking

The first patient was implanted with the new device on 5 December 2012. The procedure involves an implant with a tiny speaker and a magnet placed directly under the skin behind the ear. When the skin has healed, an additional component with a small, thin receiver can be attached with the help of a magnet.

The clinical study has so far involved mostly patients with impairments in the outer or middle ear. Now Sabine Reinfeldt wants to find out if patients with other kinds of hearing impairments can benefit from the new implant.

“I feel really honoured to receive the Hasselblad Foundation grant for female natural scientists. It means I can employ a postdoctoral team member and research this area even further. Some of the grant will also enable me to travel to conferences and develop my collaborations with other researchers.”

Improving life for patients with ulcerative colitis

Malin Johansson, researcher at the department of medical biochemistry and cell biology at the University of Gothenburg, receives the Hasselblad Foundation grant to continue her research on protecting the bowels from bacteria in the gut with an impenetrable mucus layer along the large intestine.

“Thanks to the grant, I can specialise in this research and build-up an internationally competitive research group.”

Searching for answers at a molecular level

Everyone has more than a kilogram of bacteria in their intestines. The mucus layer contributes to handling this large amount of bacteria without falling ill. Malin Johansson’s research shows that mice lacking a mucus layer are exposed to bacteria that causes inflammation similar to illnesses such as ulcerative colitis, which in turn can cause bowel cancer.

“I have also observed defects in the mucus layer among patients with ulcerative colitis. At present, we still cannot explain this at molecular level or understand how the mucus layer protects the intestine or why it doesn’t always work. That’s what I want to discover,” says Malin Johansson.

Better diagnostics and treatment

The aim is to develop better diagnostics and improve methods of treatment for bowel diseases.

Ulcerative colitis is presumed to have a variety of causes. If these can be identified at molecular level for different groups of patients, then treatments can be customised and not just the treatment of the symptoms, as is the case today.

”This is an under-researched area and I want to find out how it works. And, of course, the objective is to improve the lives of patients suffering from ulcerative colitis. In Sweden, about 1200 people a year fall ill with bowel diseases.”


2014 Grants for female postdoctoral researchers in the natural sciences at Chalmers University of Technology, the University of Gothenburg and Karlstad University

The Erna and Victor Hasselblad Foundation’s grants for female postdoctoral researchers in the natural sciences at Chalmers University of Technology, the University of Gothenburg and Karlstad University.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Hasselblad Foundation is allocating funds to support female postdoctoral researchers in the natural sciences with a possible extension to adjacent scientific fields and life sciences. Grants may be applied for by female researchers employed at any one of the aforementioned universities on terms to be announced shortly. The grants total SEK 2 million for two female postdoctoral researchers of SEK 1 million each. Approved funds are to be regarded as contributions to each respective researcher’s postdoctoral project to be paid successively to the respective university over a maximum period of three years. 

The main aim of the Erna and Victor Hasselblad Foundation is to promote research and scientific teaching in the natural sciences and photography. This aim is achieved, in part, through research grants to the natural sciences as well as providing photography fellowships and an international award in photography.

According to one of the previous recipients, Elin Esbjörner Winters, Chalmers:

“In 2012, I received a research grant from the Hasselblad Foundation within the programme for female postdoctoral researchers in the natural sciences. The grant allowed me to research further into the significance of protein misfolding in the development of neurodegenerative diseases. Support from the Hasselblad Foundation has been particularly significant for me because it enabled the opportunity to expand my research group, which was an absolute necessity in getting time and resources to conduct new and exciting research that can lay the foundations for my research career and help establish me in my field. Furthermore, the grant has enabled my participation in new collaborative research and therefore strengthened my scientific network.”

Funding for women researchers for continued research qualification in the natural sciences at Chalmers university of technology, the University of Gothenburg and Karlstad University

For the third year running, the Hasselblad Foundation announces financial support for continued research support for women with PhDs in the natural sciences with a possible extension to closely-related fields of technology and life science. This funding may be applied for by women researchers employed by one of the universities mentioned in the heading, in accordance with terms and conditions soon to be announced. The sum total of this funding is SEK 2,000,000, to be divided as SEK 1,000,000 each for two women researchers. When granted, the financing is to be regarded as project funding to support the continued research of each of the two researchers, and is to be paid out to the respective universities during a period not exceeding three years.

The primary objective of the Erna and Victor Hasselblad Foundation is to promote research and scholarly education in the natural sciences and photography. We work toward this objective by, for example, funding scientific research and education, as well as by awarding stipends in photography and research in photography, and by awarding an international photography prize.  
In 2011 I was awarded financial support by the Hasselblad Foundation’s program for continued research funding for women in the natural sciences. My ambition is to be able to continue my research and be appointed senior lecturer by establishing my own research group, learning more and gaining more experience of teaching and supervising, and to expand my scientific network. This financing has helped me to gain further research qualifications. In my view, financing from the Hasselblad Foundation may serve a decisive function concerning continued research qualification and career opportunities for young women researchers.
Caroline Jonsson, University of Gothenburg

Caroline Jonsson about her research