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MIMS Spotlight Series: Meet Milica Milivojevic

Text written by Nóra Lehotai and Milica Milivojevic. Picture: Milica Milivojevic, owned by Milica Milivojevic.

Milica Milivojevic profilbild 1

I had a chat with Milica, who is a postdoctoral fellow in the Sixt group. She is another true cosmopolitan scientist with Serbian-British dual nationality, who then studied in France and did a postdoc fellowship in New York, before arriving at Umeå in March 2021.


Can you tell us about your role at MIMS, what are you working on now? 

As a postdoc in Barbara’s lab, I will be working on Chlamydia trachomatis infection. C. trachomatis is an obligate intracellular pathogen that resides and replicates in a bacteria-containing vacuole called the inclusion. My project will be focused on studying the host-pathogen interaction at the inclusion membrane using proteomics and lipidomic approaches, in order to better understand this intriguing niche.

Read more: MIMS Spotlight Series: Meet Milica Milivojevic

Stress responses in cross-microbial species are disclosed

Maria Fällman och Kemal Avican GBP 6867 1The Fällman group has published a new article in Nature Communications with the title: “RNA atlas of human bacterial pathogens uncovers stress dynamics linked to infection”. “I think the results obtained from this study could be very helpful for better understanding of adaptation strategies of different bacterial pathogens.”-says Kemal Avican, the main driver of the study, one of the corresponding authors.

Bacterial pathogens have to cope with stressful environments in human host. Their response with the activity of gene products enables them to adapt to those stressful environments and cause troublesome infections. Therefore, genes involved in the adaptation are potential targets for new antimicrobials.
Researchers of this study has exposed 32 different bacterial human pathogens to 11 stress conditions mimicking human host environments and catalogued their transcriptome. Investigation of over 100 000 genes enabled them to identify stress responsive genes, common and unique regulatory responses, and processes participating in different stress responses. By comparing the gene expressions to publicly available data, they could show that these responses are employed during infection of two clinically important pathogens, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. They have shown that a significant proportion of responses is originated from known and putative novel non-coding RNAs, indicating existence of potential novel ncRNAs in the dataset to be discovered. The RNA atlas is deposited on an interactive and user-friendly webpage at

Picture: Maria Fällman and Kemal Avican at Umeå University campus. Credit: Gabrielle Beans Picón.

Read more: Stress responses in cross-microbial species are disclosed

MIMS Annual Report 2019-2020 available

The digital version of the MIMS Annual Report 2019-2020 is now available online.

Take a look to learn about the past two years at MIMS:

MIMS Annual Report 2019 2020 cover
• How our scientists have studied phages, viruses, bacteria and parasites and how they interact with their hosts and vectors.
• How we have engaged with our international partners in the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine.
• How we used the EMBL group leader model to bring many new scientists to Sweden.
• How we celebrated the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
• And much more.

Read more to see how you can dowload the MIMS Annual Report 2019-2020.

Read more: MIMS Annual Report 2019-2020 available

Björn Schröder receives Dr P Håkanssons Stiftelse grant

181019 GSO Portraits9505 562 Christopher Coe
MIMS group leader Björn O. Schröder received a research grant from Dr P Håkanssons Stiftelse (Dr Per Håkansson Foundation) for a project in which he and his team will investigate how specific diets affect the intestinal microbiota. For the project, Björn will collaborate with Anna Sjödin and Jonas Burén from the Department of Food, Nutrition and Culinary Science, Umeå University, to analyze how consumption of a popular low carbohydrate diet affects the gut microbiota in healthy people and what consequences this might have for their interaction with the body. The grant will be awarded during a ceremony on the Näringslivdag in Eslöv in the south of Sweden.

Read more: Björn Schröder receives Dr P Håkanssons Stiftelse grant

MIMS Spotlight Series: Meet Björn Ole Schröder

Text written by Nóra Lehotai and Björn O. Schröder. Pictures owned by Björn O. Schröder.

Björn joined MIMS in 2019 as a group leader. I had a chat with him to get to know how he ended up in Umeå and what does he like to do when he is not at work. Björn was born in Germany and has lived in France, in sunny California and of course, in Sweden and Germany. He shares his adventures with his wife.

Can you tell us about your role at MIMS, what are you working on now?

I am a group leader at MIMS and together with my amazing team we are interested in the interaction between diet, gut microbiota andPic Björn 3
the mucosal barrier in the intestine. Specifically, we focus on mucus and antimicrobial peptides, which are two important defense systems of the gut to prevent infections and microbial translocation of the gut bacteria into the body. In the group we use in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro studies to better understand how the mucosal barrier and the microbiota influence each other, since it seems that a specific microbial community is required to keep the defense systems active and functional.

Intestinal defense is impaired in inflammatory bowel diseases and metabolic diseases and appears to depend on the gut microbiota, so we try to identify how the microbiota can be used to strengthen the intestinal barrier to prevent or treat these diseases.

Read more: MIMS Spotlight Series: Meet Björn Ole Schröder

MIMS Spotlight Series: Meet Anne-Marie Fors Connolly

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.

AMFC in the lab reduced

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.

Read more: MIMS Spotlight Series: Meet Anne-Marie Fors Connolly

Malaria researchers at MIMS, Ellen Bushell and Oliver Billker, reflect on World Malaria Day (25 April)

Written by Nóra Lehotai, MIMS

During the World Health Assembly in 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) Member States established 25th April as World Malaria Day. Fourteen years have passed, and malaria is still a global threat, claiming over 400, 000 lives every year, mostly killing children under 5 according to the WHO.

Malaria, an infectious disease, is caused by the unicellular protozoan Plasmodium parasites. These parasites infect the Anopheles mosquitos which become carriers of the parasites and transmit them to humans when the infected female Anopheles mosquito bites us. The parasites are injected from the mosquito’s salivary glands to the blood in the form of sporozoites, which travel to the liver (liver stage) where they multiply and transform into merozoites. The merozoite form invades our red blood cells (RBCs; blood stage), grows, and transforms into trophozoite, schizont and finally, into gametocyte form, which induces the malaria symptoms. The typical incubation period, from the bite until the first symptoms, is 11 days.

The Plasmodium life cycle A malaria infection begins with the transmission of a

Read more: Malaria researchers at MIMS, Ellen Bushell and Oliver Billker, reflect on World Malaria Day (25...

MIMS Spotlight Series: Meet Sarah Lundgren

Text written by Nóra Lehotai and Sarah Lundgren. Photo credits: Sarah Lundgren.

Sarah Lundgren joined MIMS in November 2020. She felt like coming home after living in the UK, Australia and Japan and nowadays she enjoys life in Umeå with her partner, Sam, and many more four legged friends. Enjoy the interview with Sarah!

Can you tell us about your role at MIMS, what are you working on now? 

SL profile pic

My main responsibility in the Oliver Billker’s lab here at MIMS, is the management of our insectary. We rear mosquito colonies for our malaria research, and I make sure that our scientists have access to mosquitoes for their various experiments. Besides running the insectary, I am also responsible for coordinating the logistics, and making sure that everything runs smoothly.

Read more: MIMS Spotlight Series: Meet Sarah Lundgren

MIMS Spotlight Series: Meet Barbara Forró

Text written by Nóra Lehotai and Barbara Forró. Photo credits: Csaba Guti.

I had a chat with Barbara, who is a postdoctoral fellow in Maria Fällman’s group. After living in Hungary and Canada, she moved to Umeå in August 2020. She shares her home with her husband and “never enough” number of plants.

BF portraitCan you tell us about your role at MIMS; what are you working on now?

My main project is about shedding light on the molecular mechanism of Salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium invasion and persistence. I am being fortunate to analyze a huge bulk of RNA seq data from an in vivo mice experiment, that would drive us closer to understand the mechanisms of the bacterial persistence in the host and, as always in science, would raise more fascinating questions regarding the topic. Outside of the main project, I am taking the time to learn more about mechanisms of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis invasion and persistence in the host.

Read more: MIMS Spotlight Series: Meet Barbara Forró

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

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 (

Battling antibiotic resistance

movie by Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, with participation of scientists from MIMS and UCMR:
Or watch the original movie on:

Research about infectious diseases:

Oliver Billker in movie of Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation:
Or watch the original movie on:

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