Yaowen Wu and Teresa Frisan are new UCMR Director and Deputy Director, respectively, and Vice Directors Fredrik Almqvist and Constantin Urban complete the new leadership team. UCMR Ambassadors 2020: Anita Kiss, Karim Rafie and Nunya Chotiwan. Agrisera Poster Prize to Anita Kiss.
With more than 180 participants, the Umeå Centre for Microbial Research held its annual symposium, the UCMR DAY 2020, for the eleventh time on January 23rd. The event, at Aula Nordica this year, included new activities to enhance the interaction and networking among the scientists of this Centre of Excellence which has been supported since 2008 by a Linnaeus Grant from the Swedish Research Council (VR).
Before Professor Bernt Eric Uhlin handed over to the new the leadership, he highlighted some of the UCMR activities of the past year. One major topic has been the final evaluation conducted by VR of all the different Linnaeus Centra supported by the Swedish Research Council (VR) during 10 year each (2006-2016 or 2008-2018). Included in the UCMR documentation submitted to VR, were selected scientific papers and case studies as well as a compilation of the more than 1,100 publications representing scientific achievements during the 10-year period. The evaluation will for UCMR culminate on January 29th in Stockholm with a hearing by the international Expert Panel that has the task to evaluate all the VR Linnaeus Centre of Excellence. Bernt Eric pointed out that UCMR has used the evaluation phase, with several UCMR meetings among its principal investigators during 2019, as an opportunity to collect and discuss ideas for renewal and future development of UCMR as a Centre of Excellence. Of interest is also that VR together with Formas, Forte, and Vinnova have invited to a conference, “The National Centre of Excellence Investments Conference”, in the beginning of March where overall results from all evaluations of different Centre of Excellence will be discussed and the question “Does Sweden need a new programme for Center of Excellence?” is on the agenda.
Before Christmas break, the UCMR Executive Board completed a search and evaluation of interested candidates to take over the UCMR leadership from January 2020. Their recommendation was forwarded to the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Yaowen Wu, professor at the Department of Chemistry, was appointed by Umeå University as new UCMR director. Yaowen Wu will lead UCMR together with Teresa Frisan, professor at the Department of Molecular Biology, Constantin Urban, associate professor at Department of Clinical Microbiology, and Fredrik Almqvist, professor at Department of Chemistry.
The new director pointed out that the leadership will focus on closer collaboration between clinical and pre-clinical researchers and to continue strengthening the education of next generation scientists (postdocs and PhD students). The promotion of networking and new collaborations and the aim to attract excellent young scientists to Umeå and facilitate their career development, are also on the agenda of the new UCMR leadership.
As invited keynote speaker at the symposium, Professor Ivan Dikic, director of the Institute of Biochemistry II, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany, introduced the UCMR community to his ground-breaking research on the role of Ubiquitin in microbial infections and on the importance of a selective autophagy pathway for the endoplasmic reticulum (ER-phagy) in neuropathies and infectious diseases.
Furthermore, recently recruited group leaders at WCMM and MIMS, who presented their research areas and techniques, held invited talks. In addition, eight postdocs and PhD students had been selected to give short talks on their research.
At a few occasions during the past two decades, Umeå University microbiologists have arranged the “Midnight Sun Lecture” when an invited, world leading, scientist in the area of Microbiology is asked to present his/her scientific work in a lecture starting at 23.00 on a suitable mid-summer evening in June. In the same spirit, for the first time, the UCMR DAY 2020 Symposium was offering a possibility to invite a leading scientist to present a “Midwinter Night Lecture”. Professor Thomas Nyström, Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, also member of the UCMR Executive Board, presented how his studies with yeast as a model system in aging has led to findings that include possible gene targets for the mitigating of neurological disorders.
Initially the main poster session was organized in “Poster Walk Groups” where all the 55 posters were discussed in smaller groups, and then the time was used for individual poster viewing. After the poster session, the young investigators (PhD students and postdocs) were invited to vote for the best poster presentation in an online poll. A number of PhD students and postdocs also took the opportunity to broaden their network by participating in a highly appreciated Speed Dating session.
Upon the voting, three poster presenters were awarded with the UCMR Ambassador 2020 Award, up to 25.000 SEK each to be spent during 2020 on active partcicpation in an international scientific conference or workshop. The awarded UCMR Ambassadors 2020 are: Anita Kiss, department of Chemistry, Rafie Karim, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Nunya Chotiwan, Department of Clinical Microbiology.
The Agrisera Best Poster Prize was awarded to Anita Kiss.
New UCMR Director Yaowen Wu and UCMR Deputy Director Teresa Frisan
Invited Keynote Speaker Ivan Dikic, Institute of Biochemistry II, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Thomas Nyström receives the Midwinter Night Lecture Certificate from Bernt Eric Uhlin
Teresa Frisan and Agrisera Best Poster Prize Awardee Anita Kiss, also UCMR Ambassador 2020.
UCMR Ambassador 2020 Nunya Chotiwan
UCMR Ambassador 2020 Karim Rafie and Deputy Director Teresa Frisan