Text written by Nóra Lehotai and Anne Marie Fors Connolly.
I had a chat with Anne-Marie Fors Connolly who joined MIMS as a Clinical Research Fellow in 2020. She is a true cosmopolitan, with Swedish and Danish nationalities and some Irish blood in her veins as well. She has lived in Denmark and Ireland before moving to Sweden, and now she is living with her husband, and they are hoping to soon welcome a dog in their lives.
Portrait picture of Anne-Marie Fors Connolly working in the lab. Credit: Mattias Petterson.
Can you tell us about your role at MIMS, what are you working on now?
I am a MIMS clinical research fellow. I finished my medical internship last year and I am currently specializing in Clinical Microbiology. Right now, I have several large projects ongoing in parallel ranging from in vitro studies in the laboratory, to clinical determinants of infectious disease outcome to large scale multi-register population studies. My research interests are focused on translational projects that are clinically relevant, since I like to feel I am contributing to society with the knowledge that is generated. My MIMS postdoc, Dr. Chloé Jacquet, is focusing on determining the cleaving factors of the endothelial glycocalyx during HFRS and COVID-19. My clinical project student, Hanna Jerndal, is visualizing the real-time thickness of the endothelial glycocalyx in COVID-19 patients. The principal research engineer Osvaldo Fonseca-Rodriguez is quantifying the risk of acute cardiovascular complications in all COVID-19 patients, together with Ioannis Katsoularis a medical doctor and PhD student. We have the help of a statistician, Erling Lundevaller, who works part-time in my group.
What were you doing before you joined MIMS and what attracted you to start a position here?
I was finishing up my medical internship that I completed here in Umeå. I originally came to Umeå in 2011 to start a postdoc after my PhD defense at Karolinska Institutet, and I applied to medical school here in Umeå which I completed in parallel with my postdoc and working as a researcher. The reasons for coming to Umeå are many-fold but the most important being that I had heard that the people here were very laidback and really nice, which I completely agree with after having lived in Umeå for ten years! The research environment is also open and pleasant, and it has been a privilege to transition from a post doc to a group leader in this supportive environment.
If you would not have your current profession, what do you think you would be doing?
Perhaps I would have specialized in Social Medicine (Public Health) in Denmark. I have a passion for epidemiological research, and I would have enjoyed combining clinical work with public health. Or I would have opened a chocolate shop, this is one of my hobbies to create my own pralines.
What do you do in your free time and what are you most enjoying in living in Umeå, Sweden?
My husband and I love going for long walks in the area we live in, and also creating home-cooked meals. Otherwise I try to combat the tension in my body from sitting down for long periods of time with Yoga, and reading books. An enjoyable pass-time is also creating my own pralines and baking.
"For my wedding I made a box with two homemade pralines for every guest at the wedding with a dark chocolate praline with marzipan and rum-soaked plums; and a milk chocolate praline with chocolate peanut butter filling." Credit: Anne-Marie Fors Connolly.
Is there a little known/interesting fact about yourself?
I am half-Irish and I grew up both in Denmark and Ireland.