Inaugural lecture by Johan Björkegren on systems approach to atherosclerosis
On March 17th at 4:15 pm will Johan Björkegren, UT Professor of Molecular Pathology, hold his inaugural lecture at the University's Assembly Hall. The lecture is entitled “A Multi-Tissue Systems Approach to Coronary Atherosclerosis: the Network Road Ahead”.Molecular events in physiology and pathology are best described as a web of nodes and interactions. Depending on the time and micro-environmental situation, within this web the course of a given process or disease will at different points in time be determined by different molecules. Moreover, molecular webs are not only active within tissues but also across different tissues. Coronary artery disease (CAD), already responsible for 50% of all deaths in developed and developing countries, will in 2012 surpass malaria as the most deadly disease in all categories. Attempts to fight this multi-faceted affliction by means of the "candidate gene" approach are bound to fail. Yet, the battle can be won by uncovering molecular network representations of the whole spectrum of CAD pathology. In my laboratory, our aim is to map the molecular networks responsible for premature development of coronary atherosclerosis by performing high-throughput screening of genome-wide DNA and RNA which has been isolated from well-characterised patient cohorts and from CAD mouse and cell model systems.
Professor Johan Björkegren graduated from Stockholm School of Economics (Handelshögskolan i Stockholm) in 1989 and from the Medical School of Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm in 1995. He received his PhD from the same university in 1998 for his work on lipoprotein metabolism in cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis. Since 2003, Professor Björkegren is active at the Karolinska Institutet as a senior scientist, group leader and Associate Professor of Molecular Medicine. During 1999‑2001 Dr. Björkegren spent three years as postdoctoral fellow at the University of California (San Francisco) where he was one of the first fellows to join the academic GeneChip program provided by the start-up company Affymetrix Inc. working primarily with global gene expression profiling in mouse models of atherosclerosis. Upon his return to Karolinska Institutet in 2002, he started his own research group, pursuing a systems approach to atherosclerosis and CAD with a strong focus on clinical gene expression profiling studies of patients with severe CAD. Professor Björkegren has been the principal advisor for three PhD students who have successfully defended their theses on systems-biological approaches to CAD and atherosclerosis at Karolinska Institutet. Before joining the University of Tartu in May 2010, Professor Björkegren cooperated with the UT thoracic surgeon Dr. Arno Ruusalepp in 2007 by performing several joint clinical studies at the University of Tartu Clinics. Professor Björkegren is frequently invited and appreciated as a speaker on systems approaches to common complex disorders at scientific conferences in Europe and the US. Professor Björkegren is the founder and leader of two Swedish biotechnology companies one of which operates in the area of bio-IT (Clinical Gene Networks AB) and the other in the area of self-DNA testing over the Internet (DNA-Guide Europa AB).
University of Tartu Academic Secretary