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SciLifeLab Lands $33M in New Funds, AstraZeneca Partnership

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Sweden's SciLifeLab, an institute supported by multiple university partners that focuses on biomedical and environmental research, has received large commitments in new foundation and corporate funding, the Swedish government said today.

Sweden said that the institute has received commitments for SEK 220 million ($33.4 million) from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and that drug-maker AstraZeneca plans to invest between $5 million and $10 million annually over five years in research projects it plans to conduct with SciLifeLab.

A joint venture between four universities, the Karolinska Institute, the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University, and Uppsala University, SciLifeLab is creating a center for high-throughput research programs involving genomics, proteomics, and related disciplines.

According to Sweden's Ministry of Education and Research, SciLifeLab is expected to generate revenues of about SEK 1 billion in a few years.

One area of focus for SciLifeLab is to identify genetic risk factors, biomarkers, and molecular mechanisms in human diseases for use in early diagnosis, personalized therapies, and identification of novel drug targets.

“Once fully developed, Sweden SciLifeLab will operate as a national resource that accelerates Swedish biomedical research to world class status. This investment will enable us to attract leading scientists and innovative research to come to Sweden,” Uppsala University President Eva Åkesson said in a statement.

“Stockholm University's internationally acclaimed research in molecular bioscience and bioinformatics will continue to be central to SciLifeLab and we welcome that the cooperation is now granted the status of a national research institute,” added Stockholm University President Kåre Bremer.

Anders Ekblom, executive vice president of science and technology, R&D, and CEO of AstraZeneca Sverige, said in the statement, "SciLifeLab combines advanced technology with expertise in translational medicine and molecular bioscience, an area of great interest to AstraZeneca in the development of new patient treatments. We have therefore signed a declaration of intent with SciLifeLab, which means that we intend to strengthen our cooperation."

As GenomeWeb Daily News reported in February, SciLifeLab recently received SEK 177 million from Uppsala University and the Swedish academic real estate company Akademiska Hus to expand and consolidate its labs at the Uppsala Biomedical Center.

The expansion, which was modeled after the success of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, will include a five-story hub building and space in existing areas of the BMC that will total 118,400 square feet. The expansion is expected to be completed in the fall of 2013.

Sweden said that it plans for SciLifeLab to continue to grow to employ around 1,000 scientists within a few years.