Fostering Collaborations and Technological Innovation in Swedish Life Sciences

The recently concluded Program for Academic Leaders in Life Sciences (PALS) Annual Scientific Conference 2024 brought together researchers from across the country to continue collaborations within the network. Hosted by the Wallenberg Center for Molecular Medicine (WCMM) in Umeå, the conference continued the effort to expand interdisciplinary cooperation in life sciences.

“I find it incredibly inspiring to meet research groups that are so well-prepared to utilize research infrastructure. It’s truly enjoyable!”, said Linda Sandblad, Site Director SciLifeLab site Umeå.

PALS, a collaborative initiative involving SciLifeLab, the Wallenberg National Program for Data-Driven Life Science (DDLS), and the four Wallenberg Centers for Molecular Medicine (WCMM), aims to host a network for young group leaders in experimental, clinical, or computational life sciences. With funding from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the program aims to strengthen Sweden’s position as a leader in life sciences by offering national networks and encourage multidisciplinary collaborations.

The central point of PALS is its Annual Scientific Conference, which provides a platform for fellows from WCMMs, SciLifeLab, and the DDLS program to meet and exchange ideas. The 2024 conference, hosted by WCMM Umeå, featured a number of sessions meant to further collaboration and exchange of knowledge. From keynotes by experts Eileen Furlong (EMBL) & Bruce Stillman (CSHL), to panel discussions and parallel Data Blitz sessions covering different scientific themes, the conference offered a lot to its participants.

Eileen Furlong, Head of Genome Biology Unit, EMBL, and keynote speaker during the conference said that, “The conference has been very interactive, and the spirit of connection among everyone is remarkable. People are coming from all over Sweden and from three different programs, not just SciLifeLab. You can really see the interconnections and interactions between the fellows, which is wonderful. From what I’ve seen, you have some amazing fellows. From the outside, it looks like the program is truly working, and SciLifeLab has already built up a huge reputation. I only hope it will continue to thrive!”

The agenda was made to cater to the diverse interests of attendees, with sessions ranging from laboratory findings to patient treatment and discussions on emerging questions in life sciences. The inclusion of infrastructure presentations highlighted the importance of new technologies in driving scientific progress.

The PALS Annual Scientific Conference holds significance beyond its immediate outcomes. By gathering young research group leaders from across Sweden and facilitating interactions with global experts, the conference lays the groundwork for long-term collaborations and scientific advancements in life sciences, that will be further promoted by a PALS call to support cross-program and cross-disciplinary projects within the community.

Among the Fellows that got to present their projects were Claudio Cantù and Camilla Consiglio. They both shared their feelings towards PALS and their thoughts about the conference:

“My impression of PALS spans over six years, dating back to when it was called NMMP, so my feelings reflect that experience. This is one of the yearly meetings I truly look forward to attending. Recently, I even had to turn down other conferences to ensure my participation at PALS because it is very important to me. The reason is that PALS makes all of us feel important. You feel that your work and position fulfill a need and contribute to a broader scientific mission, and I really appreciate that. Additionally, the connections we create here are very important. The people I meet and the connections I’ve made have been foundational for many aspects of my professional life.”, said Claudio Cantù, WCMM Fellow, Linköping University.

“Starting a lab and being part of this extensive network has been super insightful. First, you build a strong network and learn about the cutting edge of science here in Sweden, connecting individually with other researchers at the forefront. Nationally, connecting with other DDLS, SciLifeLab, and WCMM Fellows has been fantastic for expanding networks and learning about different types of research. This exposure encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and be more innovative as well”, added Camila Consiglio, DDLS Fellow, Lund University


Last updated: 2024-06-11

Content Responsible: Hampus Persson(