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Meets future health and environmental challenges with interdisciplinary life sciences

Man-made pollutants, the peculiar immune system of codfish, embryonic development and new technology to handle both disease and pollutants. This will be studied in five new convergence environments at the University of Oslo.

The five convergence environments

- Combining natural and social sciences to understand and manage global anthropogenic toxicants (AnthroTOX)

- Epigenetics and bioethics of human embryonic development

- Programmable Cell-like Compartments

- Comparative immunology of fish and humans (COMPARE)

- Organ on a chip and nano-device (CHIP)

Background for funding
To finance convergence environments with doctoral and postdoctoral positions is the most powerful instrument UiO:Life Science has to support interdisciplinary collaboration that will contribute to new insights and increased value creation in the field of life sciences.

Read more about the application process

Life sciences
Life sciences increase our understanding of the nature of life, and of ageing and disease.

UiO:Life Science

UiO:Life Science is an interdisciplinary strategic area that will strengthen quality and interaction in research; recruit, educate and develop talents; and promote innovation in the life sciences related to environment and health.

A research and education building that is planned for completion in 2023, is an important part of the initiative.

Read more about the initiative

UiO:Life Science will finance at least five convergence environments – interdisciplinary research groups that will solve grand challenges related to health and environment.

Evaluated by international expert panel

The five convergence environments will receive altogether 17 doctoral and postdoctoral positions as well as expenditures – a total value of approximately NOK 70 million over four years.

This is clear after an international expert panel has assessed the 22 applications and the board of UiO:Life Science has made the final decisions.

"The international expert panel was very impressed with the high quality of the applications and has done a thorough evaluation job," says Director of UiO:Life Science Finn-Eirik Johansen.

"We are sure that those who receive funding will deliver high-quality research that is of major importance to society".

Pleased with the diversity

In the application process, emphasis has been placed on convergence environments to come up with new projects that require interdisciplinary collaboration. It should not be business as usual.

Researchers from four faculties at UiO are represented in the five convergence environments. In addition, the link to Oslo University Hospital is very strong.

The health and environmental challenges that the convergence environments will resolve will be studied with methods from biology, medicine, physics, mathematics, computer science, chemistry, ethics, social anthropology and sociology.

Johansen is very pleased with this diversity.

"By connecting different subjects, we get a more holistic approach to the challenges to be solved. It is an important premise for the university's commitment to life sciences, because this is where UiO as a broad university explores its full potential, he says.

The Director is looking forward to following the convergence environments. He is also curious about whether any of the applicants who did not get support, choose to collaborate and apply for funding elsewhere.

More funding opportunities

There will be several new application rounds for funding of convergence environments. The next is scheduled with an application deadline towards the end of 2018 with the convergence environments starting in 2019. In addition, UiO:Life Science will have other sorts of support to strengthen education and innovation in life sciences at UiO.

Those who receive support for convergence environments later, will have the possibility to move into the planned life science building at UiO and ensure high quality research and innovation there.

The five convergence environments

In addition to these five convergence environments, one or two additional convergence environments might get funding after negotiating with the applicant's departments for co-financing.

All applicants will receive feedback from the expert panel's assessment as soon as it is ready.

Combining natural and social sciences to understand and manage global anthropogenic toxicants (AnthroTOX) 

The vision of the convergence environment is to understand how environmental and social processes and their relationships dictate flows and impacts of anthropogenic toxicants from electronic waste. This will be studied within and across societies and ecosystems. Results from Tanzania will be compared to data from the Arctic. Read more.

Consortium (from left to right)
Paul Wenzel Geissler, Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences (leader)
Katrine Borgå, Professor, Department of Biosciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Knut Breivik, Professor II, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Susanne Bauer, Associate Professor, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture (TIK), Faculty of Social Sciences 
Ruth Prince, Associate Professor, Institute of Health and Society, Faculty of Medicine

Comparative immunology of fish and humans (COMPARE)

The overarching goal of the convergence environment is to find out how the peculiar immune system of the codfishes function in detail and what its implications are for human immune disease. The results will affect future aquaculture, human medicine as well as providing a social sciences case for our awareness of the future possibilities of gene modifications of fish and humans. Read more.

Consortium (from left to right)
Kjetill S. Jakobsen, Professor, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biosciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (leader)
Sissel Jentoft, Deputy Chair/Project Coordinator, CEES
Ole Christian Lingjærde, Professor, Department of Informatics, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Shuo-Wang Qiao, Associate Professor, Centre for Immune Regulation (CIR), Institute of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine
Kristin Asdal, Professor, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture (TIK), Faculty of Social Sciences 

Epigenetics and bioethics of human embryonic development

The convergence environment wants to understand the epigenetic reprogramming of early embryo development and its significance for human reproduction both scientifically and ethically. An overarching theme will be the understanding of epigenetic information in the passing of life from one generation of humans to the next. Read more.

Consortium (from left to right)
Arne Klungland, Professor II, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences,Faculty of Medicine and Clinic for Laboratory Medicine (KLM), Oslo University Hospital (OUS) (leader)
Anna Smajdor, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, Faculty of Humanities
Péter Fedorcsák, Professor II, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Department of Reproductive Medicine, OUS
Gareth D. Greggains, Researcher, Department of Reproductive Medicine, OUS
Kari Nyheim Solbrække, Professor, Institute of Health and Society, Faculty of Medicine

Programmable Cell-like Compartments

The convergence environment will develop cell-like compartments which can in the future be assembled and programmed to track and deactivate hazards such as pathogenic microorganisms, migrating cancerous cells, plastics micro-particles, or heavy metal sediments. Read more.

Consortium (from left to right)
Irep Gözen, Head of Group, Centre for Molecular Medicine Norway (NCMM), Faculty of Medicine and Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (leader)
Andreas Carlson, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics, The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Gry Oftedal, Researcher, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Arts and Ideas, Faculty of Humanities
Harald Stenmark, Professor, Institute of Clinical Medicine Faculty of Medicine

Organ on a chip and nano-devices (CHIP)

The convergence environment will develop an “Organ on a chip” interface. This will provide a powerful new platform for understanding and testing of physiological functions and therapeutic interventions. Read more.

Consortium (from left to right)
Stefan Krauss, Researcher, Department of Molecular Medicine, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Oslo University Hospital (OUS) (leader)
Ørjan G. Martinsen, Professor, Department of Physics, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Philipp Häfliger, Professor, Department of Informatics, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Ola Nilsen, Professor, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Steven Wilson, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
By Norunn K. Torheim
Published May 2, 2017 4:00 PM - Last modified May 4, 2017 6:46 PM