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ISSUE 3 | 2013


Researchers without borders theme: Interdiciplinary research

New columnist - German habits abroad

Lunds universitet Box 117 221 00 Lund Tel 046-222 00 00

Editor’s pick: 14

News in brief - all swedish articles in short.


Better together - meet Susanne Lundin & Tomas Laurell

Call for columnists If you would like to be a part of a rotating group of columnists for Nerve!, then we would love to hear from you. No previous experience required. Email elisabeth. for more information. PHOTO: Johan Persson

German habits abroad Tim fieblinger columnist We Germans are special. Let me first say that we do not all wear “Lederhosen” and I don’t know how “Oktoberfest” is, because I’ve never been there. It is really only celebrated in Bavaria (and sometimes I am not sure that Bavaria is still part of Germany). However, living abroad made me realize that there are certain habits all Germans share. I call this the three B’s. The first B is for Beer! We love our beer and it is the best in the world. If you find Germans abroad, just ask them. No beer can ever reach the German standards, in any country (even though the so-called “German Beer Purity Law” is in fact a Bavarian law). The second B stands for “Bahn”, or more exactly “Deutsche Bahn”, which is the German railway company, like SJ here in Sweden. We Germans hate the “Bahn”. Even if statistics say otherwise, Germans are deeply convinced that our trains are the worst. Don’t believe it? Just find a German co-worker and ask him (or her) about the “Bahn” – their answer will be a mixture of moaning and eye rolling. And the last B is for Bread! Living abroad is a pain for us Germans. Why? No proper bread. Good bread is very difficult to find in foreign countries. It has to be moist and soft on the

inside, but hard and crunchy on the outside. Almost intuitively, every German abroad develops the same tactic to hunt for good bread. First, enter the super market and head for the bread shelves. Then take a stand and extend you index finger. You eye up the most appealing bread, take a deep breath… and poke it! Good bread will resist the poking - if it squeezes, don’t take it home, leave it in the shop. Real ’pros’ don’t stop with a single poke-test, but rather conduct a series of three to eliminate frauds. If you don’t believe me, just look out for it on your next trip to ICA during the tourist-season. Casually linger around the bread shelves and observe. If Germans are around, they will come, take their spot and poke. We all do it! So, if you ask me how I like living in Sweden, this is my answer: your beer is way below German standards (that’s just something you have in common with the other ca. 195 countries of the world), but your SJ is fantastic - at least compared to the “Bahn” (imagine me rolling my eyes). And most importantly, after hours of poking I know that you Swedes can make decent bread, even though it’s sometimes hard to find. Therefore, I can’t complain about living here – and we Germans usually complain (b-eklaga) a lot. Tim Fieblinger, columnist and PhD student at the Department of Experimental Medical Science


Research should not be structure driven Dean Gunilla WestergrenThorsson explains why collaboration and cross-boundary research is so important. “Research is event driven. It cannot, and should not, be governed by organisational structures.” Gunilla says. “New knowledge is born where different disciplines meet.” Gunilla speaks from expePHOTO: Charlotte rience. In her previous work at Carlberg Bärg AstraZeneca, and in her current research group, she has worked in multidisciplinary teams made up of chemists, cell biologists and clinicians. “It is impossible these days to work alone as a researcher. Different skills are required in order to gain new perspectives.” she says. Researchers at the Faculty of Medicine have so far been good at working collaboratively. The fact that the faculty has been awarded so many Linné environments and nationally competitive strategic research areas is testimony to this. From an international perspective, it is unusual for a single faculty to house competencies ranging from experimental right through

to clinical research and health sciences. Many other countries do not have research and education in health sciences within their medical faculties. “But we must not get complacent. Many other universities are investing heavily in this area too.” she warns. The question is then what the faculty management can do to encourage collaboration? “This is not only the management team’s responsibility. This is something we all have to work on together” is her answer. “What the management can do is to become better at identifying the areas where collaboration can be improved and strengthened – for example, we are currently focusing on our cancer research. We can also set aside resources in order to stimulate cooperation.” Gunilla mentions two current examples – the initiative around create environments that was launched earlier this year, as well as the Forum Medicum project, in which the management want to coordinate and integrate the faculty’s educational programmes and research disciplines. “Collaboration is exciting, and inspires creative new ways of thinking.” she concludes. text: Johanna Sandahl

News in brief Welcome to our new page – News in Brief – where we give you short translated versions of some of the Swedish articles. If you want more information about any of the articles on this page, please email

Multipark Nerve spoke with Susanne Iwarsson, lead Coordinator for Multipark, one of the faculty’s biggest strategic research areas. 200 researchers from different disciplines, faculties and universities all work together to improve the quality of life for patients with Parkinson’s disease. In order to make such a varied group work well together, Susanne says it’s important to create a clear governance structure with external influences, provide transparent internal information, and to be sensitive to group dynamics and relationships. As a leader it is also important to have a large network of peers to discuss ideas with.

New career coach Pernilla Carlsson has recently started working as the Faculty of Medicine’s first ever career coach for young researchers. Pernilla has a PhD in medical biochemistry from Uppsala University, and has worked with both research administration and careers guidance in previous roles. She has offices in both Lund and Malmö, and you can contact her by emailing

Forum Medicum Clinical exchange Clinical supervisors and teachers within the nursing programme recently visited one of their partner universities – the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, England – in order to better understand their exchange students’ backgrounds. They found many differences to practices in Sweden, e.g. separate wards for men and women and non-computerised patient charts. Meal times are also much calmer, and rules about not disturbing patients while they eat are much stricter. This, along with colour-coded trays for patients requiring extra help at mealtimes, is something the LU team would like to implement at home.


Find out about the proposed new collaborative research centre in Lund – visit

Courses on iTunesU iTunesU (iTunes University) is a service where you can download and watch educational lectures from universities and colleges around the world for free. Lund University has its own channel, where presentations and lectures can be found from different disciplines for example diabetology. Visit

COVER NERVE: Carl Grenvall & Christian Antfolk in Tomas Laurell’s laboratory. PHOTO: Elisabeth Dawson

Meet some of our international students Marco Mocenigo from Trieste university in italy Master’s student in Biomedicine. He is here for 6 months. Why did you choose Lund? The most important reason was that Lund offers courses in English. My university is quite small and I was attracted by the fact that Lund has 46 000 students and ranked as one of the top 100 universities. The student life was another factor that played part. Also I have I friend that was here and she really recommended it. Expectations? I hope to improve my medical skills. I have a very positive feeling and feel excited! The study method is different here. In Italy we study all courses at the same time and then we have exams in January and February. It will be nice to focus on one course and then have the exam. Also I will have more time in the lab here – which is what I like best. Research is my final goal! What do you think so far? I find it challenging! Being abroad is a great personal achievement and very important for my life and future studies. martyna Sroka, originally from Poland, student at the Aberdeen university in Scotland Student in Biomedicine. She is here for one semester. Why did you choose Lund? I have been to Sweden before and I really liked it! I like the athomsphere. I was lucky that Aberdeen has an exchange agreement with Lund. Lund uses scientific journals in the studies in a different way than in Scotland. So I am excited about that. Expectations? I expect to get to know people from all over the world. I want to create connections for the future. I would like to learn Swedish. I am doing a joint PhD and next year and I would love to come back! So far? I love it! It is all well organized and the city is nice!

Alberto Garcia Hernañdez, Valladolid university in Spain Nursing student one year away from a degree. Why did you choose Lund? I was recommended by my university to come here. The work is known to be well organized. I have heard that you get to practice your theoretical skills in a good way. Expectations? I expect to learn about Swedish methods and ways of working. I am doing my final thesis based on the methods of work in Sweden. Also I want to improve my English, meet new friends and learn some Swedish. So far? My first impression is that people are cool and friendly.

text: sofia B liljedahl foto: katrin Ståhl


THEME: Researchers without borders

Better together The days of working alone on research projects without input from other fields and specialties are long gone for most of us. But what is it like working with people who don’t necessarily speak your language? Susanne Lundin and Thomas Laurell share their experiences on the matter. Susanne Lundin is a Professor of Ethnology at the Faculty of Humanities and Theology. She is a seasoned cross-boundary researcher, and has spent the majority of her career focusing on the cultural aspects of frontline medical technologies that help to create and sustain life. “It is important to approach complex phenomena with mixed teams, especially in the area of medical advancements, which move faster than society can keep up with. We need to be aware of the wider implications, and expectations, around medical breakthroughs such as stem cell and fertility treatments, and genetic diagnostics. A multidisciplinary team is better placed to tackle these issues in a comprehensive way.” says Susanne Lundin.

Susanne Lundin is currently working on the Bagadilico and Future Therapies projects, and recently published a book entitled ‘The atomized body: The cultural life of stem cells, genes and neurons’.

Working together also helps to ensure that you stay at the forefront of your field, particularly when it comes to technology. “We’ve come a long way in working together across faculty boundaries. Administrative processes are easier, multidisciplinary projects are encouraged, and there is an increasing desire to work together within the research community. It isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary if you want to stay ahead of the game.” So says Thomas Laurell, Professor of Medical and Chemical Microsensors at the Faculty of Engineering.


Thomas Laurell, Professor at the Faculty of Engineering, who will shortly be moving his primary office to BMC.

Thomas Laurell focuses on microfluidics and development of new technologies within mass spectrometry, and works closely with research colleagues at the Faculty of Medicine on a day-to-day basis. His team even have laboratories on site at BMC, and he himself will be moving his primary office to BMC this autumn. “Being present within the medical research facilities is key to understanding the problems and seeing where improvements can be made to current technologies. That’s always been my strategy.” Thomas Laurell says. Mutual understanding is key Susanne Lundin and Thomas Laurell have worked with medical teams for many years, and are well acquainted with the terminology used within the medical world. However, it is important to keep in mind that the language we use can be a significant barrier to effective cooperation. PhD students in particular might find it difficult at first, but Thomas Laurell points out that you have to make the effort yourself, and not be afraid to ask “silly” questions. Mutual understanding is an important aspect, and can help different disciplines to see the value in what the other can contribute, as well as limit misunderstandings. “Humanistic researchers are often given the role of ethicists – expected to provide black and white answers about right and wrong, which is impossible. In turn, we maybe see medical researchers as single-minded and uncritical in their approach. Getting to know one another is crucial to battling these preconceptions.” says Susanne Lundin. Thomas Laurell encounters similar misconceptions, and explains: “Sometimes our medical colleagues think we can work miracles with technology and ask us for things that aren’t within the realms of possibility yet. We’re good, but we’re not magicians.” text & Photo: elisabeth dawson


Staff Magazine for the Faculty of Medicine at Lund University. September 2011. Theme: researchers without borders.