University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic form strategic research relationship with Karolinska Institute

Sweden's top medical university joins Minnesota Partnership members

The University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic, under the mantle of the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics, have formed a strategic research relationship with the Karolinska Institute of Stockholm, Sweden, the top-rated medical research university in Europe. Leaders of each institution signed memoranda of understanding to commit to the formal ongoing collaboration, called the Frontiers of Biomedical Research.

"This is a timely expansion of the Minnesota Partnership with our colleagues at the Karolinska Institute," says Frank Cerra, M.D., senior vice president for Health Sciences and dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School. "Biomedical knowledge is expanding so fast that we need solid partnerships to leverage our discoveries."

The goal of the Frontiers in Biomedical Research is to accelerate and build on the existing relationships among the three organizations. Initial plans include establishing fellowships for promising young investigators to support exchanges in targeted research areas. This goal is predicated on the reality that young investigators receiving this kind of training experience will become future global leaders in biomedical research.

"This extremely valuable relationship built on our existing foundations for discovery means that our findings will have much more of an immediate and global impact for patients," says Robert Rizza, M.D., Mayo Clinic's executive dean for research. "Strong partnerships make us more efficient and productive, while fostering some of the best scientific minds in the world."

Initially, research collaborations will focus on emerging areas of biomedical science that will address current health issues:

  • Regenerative Medicine -- A field that holds promise for regenerating damaged cells within the body and/or creating replacements in the laboratory. It is a revolutionary approach that focuses on curing conditions as opposed to treating them, and encompasses chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, and degenerative diseases of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems.
  • Bio-Omics -- A phrase that includes several of the most promising fields of biomedical research, including genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics, all of which are strengths of the partnering institutions.
  • Immunity -- Relates to development of new or improved vaccines and therapeutic agents active against infectious agents that already devastate or threaten to devastate large numbers of people living in the developing world, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

The three-way agreement was celebrated during a recent visit to Minnesota by Harriett Wallberg-Henriksson, M.D., Ph.D., president of the Karolinska Institute. She received an honorary degree from the University of Minnesota. The degree was conferred by University Regent Patricia Simmons, M.D., who was assisted by University President Robert Bruininks, Ph.D., and Mayo Clinic president and CEO, John Noseworthy, M.D.

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