“This is proof that Sweden boasts a number of competitive and creative research nodes of the highest international class. It also shows what great breadth Swedish basic research has,” says the chairman of the board at the Swedish Research Council, Bengt Westerberg.
The referees were members of an international panel consisting of seven eminent researchers from different disciplinary domains. In its statement the panel says that all 27 teams address urgent and vital research issues. In any international comparison they are on the cutting edge of their respective fields. If more resources had been available, more than ten environments would have been funded, according to the panel. The Research Council will be allocating a total of some SEK 44 million per year for five years to the ten teams. “Even though only ten environments have been chosen, this highlights both the quality and the broad scope of pure research in Sweden,” says Pär Omling, director general of the Research Council. The fields range from population studies and nanowires to cosmology-what governs the development of the universe. Several projects target the human body and how it functions when it is in good and poor health. Some of the teams are creating and developing research methods, such as x-ray lasers and the use of mathematic analyses, vital methodologies that will benefit multiple research fields.
Commitment to strong research environments
The aim of this commitment to strong research teams is to bolster cutting-edge research in Sweden. An important argument is that Sweden must be capable of meeting the challenge of pursuing research of ever greater complexity and requiring ever greater resources, while international competition for the best researchers continues to stiffen.
Several other government financiers-Formas (the Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences, and Spatial Planning), the Foundation for Strategic Research, and VINNOVA (the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems)-are making similar commitments. (See their respective Web sites for their coming decisions.)
More information (in Swedish) regarding the respective research environments, participating researchers, lists, award rationales, and the make-up of the panel can be found at: www.vr.se/starka.
The ten research teams are:
X-ray Free-Electron Lasers in Structural Biology. Contact: Janos Hajdu, Uppsala University, phone: +46 18-471 44 49
The Gothenburg Stochastic Center. Contact: Peter Jagers, Chalmers University of Technology, phone: +46 31-772 35 20
Context, Competence and Combinatorial Signaling in Vertebrate Development. Contact: Carlos Ibánez, Karolinska Institute, phone: +46 8-52 48 76 60
Center for Population Studies. A strong and innovative research center at Umeå University. Contact: Anders Brändström, phone: +46 90- 786 60 63, Umeå University
The AlbaNova High Energy Astrophysics and Cosmology (HEAC) Center. Contact: Claes Fransson, Stockholm University, phone: +46 8-55 37 85 17
Brain Neurodegeneration, Plasticity and Repair. Contact: Patrik Brundin, Lund University, phone: +46 46-222 05 29
Mitochondrial Medicine Center. Contact: Nils-Göran Larsson, Karolinska Institute, phone: +46 8-58 58 37 24
Evolutionary Genomics – Crossing the Prokaryote-Eukaryote Boundary. Contacts: Siv Andersson, Uppsala University, phone: +46 18-471 43 79 and Hans Ellegren
Nanowires for Fundamental Materials Science and Quantum Physics and for Applications in Electronics, Photonics and in Life-sciences. Contact: Lars Samuelson, Lund University, phone:+46 46-222 76 79
Betula: Memory, Genetics, Brain Imaging and Early Diagnostics. Contact: Lars-Göran Nilsson, Stockholm University, phone: +46 8-16 39 40