Gunnar von Heijne at Stockholm University
Gunnar von Heijne at Stockholm University

The CryoNet network will bring together experts in cryoelectron microscopy at universities in Aarhus, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Umeå. A Swedish- Danish partnership between the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and the Novo Nordisk Foundation will fund the network. Each foundation has awarded a grant of €1 million over 4 years for CryoNet.

Vehicle for exchanging people, knowledge and ideas

“By uniting cryoelectron microscopy strongholds in Sweden and Denmark, CryoNet will serve as an important vehicle for exchanging people, knowledge and ideas across these countries. Through this network of leading structural biologists and our collaboration with the Novo Nordisk Foundation, we want to advance research collaboration across borders and significantly advance research of the highest excellence,” says Göran Sandberg, Executive Director of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. ”

Both foundations have previously awarded grants to individual cryoelectron microscopy platforms in Sweden and Denmark. In supporting CryoNet, the foundations now seek to integrate the platforms to promote collaboration and knowledge sharing across national borders. One main goal is to help establish state-of-the-art cryoelectron microscopy as a strong pillar of Nordic life science research.

Visualizing the three-dimensional structure of proteins

Cryoelectron microscopy is a powerful method that can visualize the three-dimensional structure of proteins in their natural state in great detail. Proteins are made of amino acids joined together like beads on a necklace. The order and properties of the amino acids make each protein fold into a unique three-dimensional structure, enabling a protein to interact with other molecules with compatible structures and thereby perform its functions.

By determining the structures of proteins, scientists can much better understand central questions of biology related to health and disease and apply this information to design new drugs.

Within CryoNet, the participating universities will exchange researchers to rapidly absorb and share new methods and knowledge. CryoNet will also offer training in cryoelectron microscopy and arrange open courses and seminars to benefit the entire research community in the Nordic region and beyond.

Reinforcement of the research environment in Stockholm

A pair of the cryomic microscopes included in the network can be found at SciLifeLab in Stockholm.
"This initiative is a great boost for the sci-microscopy research environment at SciLifeLab. Through the network, we enable close cooperation between the sites in Stockholm, Umeå, Copenhagen and Aarhus, which is important not only for us but for the development of the field throughout the Nordic region. We are already planning the first of a series of annual CryoNet conferences, which will be launched in Copenhagen on 8-9 October this year, "says Gunnar von Heijne, Professor at Stockholm University, and responsible for the cryo electron microscope at SciLifeLab in Stockholm.

About the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation

About the Novo Nordisk Foundation