UMU logo

News

Prestigious postdoctoral fellowship for structural biology and infection research in Umeå

Text written by Himanshu Sharma and Nóra Lehotai. Photo: Himanshu Sharma by the Titan Krios cryo-electron microscope at the Umeå Centre for Electron Microscopy (UCEM). Credit: Kai Ehrenbolger. 

Himanshu Sharma by Kai EhrenbolgerHimanshu Sharma, a postdoctoral researcher in Jonas Barandun’s lab at MIMS and the Department of Molecular Biology, Umeå University, got awarded the prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Individual Fellowship, giving him the opportunity to carry out the proposed research project with the financial support of 191 000 € over two years.

“I am exhilarated to have received this research funding. This fellowship gives me an opportunity to investigate the intriguing infection mechanism of microsporidia through cutting-edge methods in structural biology. Microsporidia are a class of obligate parasites that employ unique methods to infect almost all organisms, including bees, fish, farmed animals and humans. Apart from being an enormous environmental and healthcare challenge, these organisms also exhibit a range of evolutionarily distinctive cellular processes. To understand these interesting but understudied pathogens, I am going to combine my existing knowledge in RNA biology with cryo-EM to understand the critical events in the microsporidia lifecycle. Through these advancements, I aim to develop an understanding of potential drug targets to curb the growing menace of microsporidia infections.”- he commented. 

Read more: Prestigious postdoctoral fellowship for structural biology and infection research in Umeå

Identification of a protective protein that reduces the severity of COVID-19

Written by Elin Thysell

Researchers at Umeå University and their international collaborative partners have discovered that increased levels of the protein OAS1 are associated with reduced mortality and less severe disease requiring ventilation among patients with COVID-19. Using drugs that boost OAS1 levels could be explored to try to improve these outcomes. The findings were published on 26th February 2021 in Nature Medicine.

Elin Thysell reducedOur analysis shows evidence that OAS1 has a protective effect against COVID-19 susceptibility and severity,” explains Dr. Elin Thysell, researcher at Medical Biosciences and Deputy Project Manager for PREDICT. PREDICT is the newly launched initiative at the Medical Faculty with the goal of finding tools early that make it possible to prevent or alleviate diseases by developing the use of biobank samples in the healthcare area. “This is a very exciting development in the race to identify potential therapies to treat patients because there are already therapies in pre-clinical development that boost OAS1 and could be explored for their effect against SARS-CoV-2 infection.” says Johan Normark, specialist doctor in infectious diseases at Umeå University Hospital and principal investigator of the CoVUm study. This clinical study for COVID-19, carried out as a collaboration between Region Västerbotten and Umeå University, studies immunity and the course of the disease furthermore, why the disease strikes so hard on certain individuals.

Read more: Identification of a protective protein that reduces the severity of COVID-19

Finding a new way to uncover targets for future antibiotics

Text by Gabrielle Beans Picon

How do you take great ideas and turn them into innovative research? In this case the Integrated Science Lab, IceLab, offered up some help in the form of funding for a postdoc who could act as a bridge between computational and experimental research areas, launching a project by Professor Maria Fällman and Senior Research Assistant Kemal Avican, both at the Department of Molecular Biology and MIMS. 

Maria Fällman och Kemal Avican GBP 6867 1

Credit: Gabrielle Beans Picon

Data generation in a molecular biology lab, sampling of human specimens from clinics and data analysis in a computational lab – all these ingredients make Professor Maria Fällman’s and Senior Research Assistant Kemal Avican’s project interdisciplinary.

Collaboration and genuine interest in research taking place outside of your expertise are at the core of interdisciplinary research. Maria Fällman and Kemal Avican have been working together for a long time, aiming to uncover new targets for future antimicrobials to fight the threat of antibiotic resistance. Along the way, they established a database of stress responses of 32 clinically important human bacterial pathogens to twelve different conditions mimicking the human body.

Read more: Finding a new way to uncover targets for future antibiotics

Secret to how cholera adapts to temperature revealed

The Cava group and their international collaborators at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Harvard Medical School and Ohio State University have discovered an essential protein in cholera-causing bacteria that allows them to adapt to changes in temperature, according to a study published today in eLife.

Text by Emily Packer, Media Relations Manager, eLife

Impact statement: A protein that helps Vibrio cholerae adapt to temperature has been identified, providing insights into how bacteria change their biology under different conditions.

The protein, BipA, is conserved across bacterial species, which suggests it could hold the key to how other types of bacteria change their biology and growth to survive at suboptimal temperatures.
Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae) is the bacteria responsible for the severe diarrhoeal disease cholera. As with other species, V. cholerae forms biofilms – communities of bacteria enclosed in a structure made up of sugars and proteins – to protect against predators and stress conditions. V. cholerae forms these biofilms both in their aquatic environment and in the human intestine. There is evidence to suggest that biofilm formation is crucial to V. cholerae’s ability to colonise in the intestine and might enhance its infectivity.

V. cholerae experiences a wide range of temperatures, and adapting to them is not only important for survival in the environment but also for the infection process,” explains lead author Teresa del Peso Santos, a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS), Umeå University, Sweden. “We know that at 37 degrees Celsius, V. cholerae grows as rough colonies that form a biofilm. However, at lower temperatures these colonies are completely smooth. We wanted to understand how it does this.”

Read more: Secret to how cholera adapts to temperature revealed

Today, we celebrate women and girls in science

International Day of Women and Girls in Science MIMS 2021It is the 11th  of February, marking the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

 

 

 

This day allows us to direct more attention to the still ongoing inequalities between genders in academia, andcontinue working together towards day when gender biases and discrimination are defeated worldwideOn a global level, women in STEM positions (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) are still rare and according to the UN, only 30% of researchers are women. They publish lessget paid less and their careersalso progress slower and often not as far as for men. Scientists at MIMS were asked to fill out a survey, anonymously, on what it means for them to be a female scientistand more than half of the participants answered that I am a scientist, no matter which gender.While others thought:

“It means I appreciate all female scientists that have broken down the barriers before me and given me a seat at the table. I am also aware of the work we still have to do, the mentoring of young female scientists to ensure that e.g., faculty positions become much more gender balanced.” 

“I never thought that gender played a role in being good at a certain career, but I learned that subconsciously kids can be conditioned to think that jobs are for a certain gender just because if you google 'scientist' mostly photos of men come up. If me being a female scientist can encourage a child to be one, then that's amazing.” 

Read more: Today, we celebrate women and girls in science

Targeted Gene Modification in Animal Pathogenic Chlamydia

Guinea pigg cell with Chlamydia caviae

[2019-11-07] Researchers at Umeå University (Sweden), in collaboration with researchers at the University of Maryland and Duke University (USA), now for the first time successfully performed targeted gene mutation in the zoonotic pathogen Chlamydia caviae.

The human pathogenic bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common sexually transmitted bacterial pathogen worldwide. It is estimated to infect more than 100 million people each year and is a frequent cause of infertility. Moreover, Chlamydia trachomatis also causes eye infections and represents the most frequent infectious cause of blindness in developing areas of the world.

Less widely known is that Chlamydia affects not only humans, but also animals. By causing disease in farm animals, such as in cows, sheep, pigs and chicken, Chlamydia can cause significant economic damage. Moreover, Chlamydia also infects pet animals, such as cats, guinea pigs, and parrots. While the Chlamydia species that infect animals are biologically different from the human pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis, some animal pathogenic Chlamydia can occasionally also infect humans. These zoonotic infections in which the bacteria are transmitted from an infected animal to a human can be severe and life-threatening.

In a collaborative study published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers from the University of Maryland Baltimore (USA), Duke University (USA), and Umeå University (Sweden), joined forces to adapt a novel genetic tool for zoonotic Chlamydia.

Read more: Targeted Gene Modification in Animal Pathogenic Chlamydia

Welcome to the UCMR DAY 2020!

Get an update on research within the university's Linnaeus Centre of Excellence in life sciences, The Umeå Centre for Microbial Research (UCMR)!

All scientists and staff members within UCMR, collaboration partners and researchers with an interest in life sciences are invited to a day of inspiring research presentations and an excellent opportunity for networking and initiation of multidisciplinary collaborations.

Date: Thursday 23rd of January 2020

Venue: Aula Nordica
More information and Programme will be found on:

www.ucmr.umu.se

IMPORTANT: To encourage interactions and provide an overview of the broad spectrum of research activities within UCMR the majority of the talks will be selected from the submitted abstracts.

Link to the registration form!

For questions concerning the organisation of the UCMR Day, please contact the organising committee:

Teresa Frisan, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Constantin Urban, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Yaowen Wu, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Congratulations! Swedish Research Council Funding to UCMR/MIMS Scientists!

Grant decision[2019-10-25] Congratulations to six UCMR/MIMS PIs who will receive funding from the Swedish Research Council!

Within the funding areas Medicine and Health, the Vetenskapsrådet granted SEK 71,9 Million to Umeå University. More than 36% of the funding to Umeå will UCMR /MIMS PIs receive for the following projects:

  • Niklas Arnberg, SEK 7.6 million for his project "Viral gastroenteritis: Models, molecules and mechanisms" (funding period 2020-2023)
  • Gemma Atkinson, SEK 3.6 million for her project "Molecular evolution, epidemiology and mechanism of ABCF-mediated antibiotic resistance" (funding period 2020-2022)
  • Jonas Barandun, SEK 6.6 million starting grant for his project "A molecular movie of ribosome biogenesis in Mycobacteria" (funding period 2020-2023)
  • Anders Hofer, SEK 2.4 million for his project "Drug development against human pathogens, which are dependent on nucleotides from the host organism" (pfunding period 2020-2022)
  • Vicky Shingler, SEK 3.6 million for her project "Control and disarming of the Type VI Nano Machine" (funding period 2020-2022)
  • Bernt Eric Uhlin, SEK 3.6 million for his project "Bacterial fitness mechanisms of the versatile pathogenic variants of Escherichia coli and the emerging opportunistic pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii" (funding period 2020-2022)

In total the Swedish Research council funded 254 projects with in total almost SEK 1.1 billion.

For more information, read the Grant Decision for Medicine and Health 2019 on the website of the Swedish Research Council.

A miniaturized version of the eukaryotic ribosome found in microsporidia

190722 Illustration Mikrosporidium Ribosom Jonas Barandun only structureA research team lead by MIMS/SciLifeLab research group leader Jonas Barandun uses cryo-electron microscopy to provide near atomic details of the smallest known eukaryotic cytoplasmic protein synthesis machine, the microsporidian ribosome.

Jonas Baranun 1000

150 years ago, the European silk industry was threatened by an unknown epidemic killing the silkworms. At that time, Louis Pasteur was able to identify the source of infection and made important suggestions for treatment. The silk production in Europe survived. Today, a microsporidian parasite is known as the cause of this epidemic and silk worm diseases still cause more than 100 million USD losses to the Chinese silk industry every year. Microsporidiosis is not restricted to silk worms. The diverse phylum of the microsporidia contains thousands of different species with parasites for essentially every animal. At least 14 of them can infect humans. Particularly challenged by microsporidia are not only aquacultures, sericultures and honey bee populations in which infections can wipe out entire hives, but also immunocompromised patients. Microsporidia are a risk for the environment, agriculture and human health and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently added the parasitic fungi to the list of emerging pathogens of high priority. Even if microsporidia infections are among the most common parasitic diseases in all animals, relatively little is known about their fascinating molecular life which is shaped by an accelerated evolutionary rate and extreme genome compaction.

Together with researchers from The Rockefeller University and Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Jonas Barandun, new group leader at The Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS), publishes the cryo-electron microscopy structure of the microsporidian ribosome which visualizes the effect of extreme genome compaction on an essential molecular machine (Nature Microbiology, 22 July 2019).

Read more: A miniaturized version of the eukaryotic ribosome found in microsporidia

10 years of MIMS celebration

Group picture V9A0599[2019-06-24] It was a big surprise for both Bernt Eric Uhlin, founding director of MIMS, and the audience attending the “10 years of MIMS symposium”, when Emmanuelle Charpentier – one of the first group leaders who started a lab at MIMS -  entered the podium and gave a speech to honor Bernt Eric and MIMS.

"When people ask me what attracted me in Umea, I reply that MIMS could offer me what I was looking for",  said Emmanuelle Charpentier and described the MIMS environment as follows: "an innovative model for a new research institution; freedom of research; an understanding for risky projects and an understanding that more unconventional research projects need time and focus; respect for young students and scientists; a world-class scientific education for the junior scientists; an interactive and relaxed environment where scientific discussions are always a priority; and an enjoyable community of colleagues always ready to challenge novel scientific questions".

Read more: 10 years of MIMS celebration

Emmanuelle Charpentier took the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Emmanuelle has been awarded jointly with Jennifer Doudna the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering the groundbreaking CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology. She is a former group leader at MIMS, honorary doctor at Umeå University and former visiting professor at UCMR.

Movie by Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (https://kaw.wallenberg.org/)

Battling antibiotic resistance

movie by Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, with participation of scientists from MIMS and UCMR:
Or watch the original movie on:
https://kaw.wallenberg.org/

Research about infectious diseases:

Oliver Billker in movie of Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation:
Or watch the original movie on:
https://kaw.wallenberg.org/

footer all slides 2014-02-06


Copyright © 2019 by The Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS). All rights reserved.