Prime Minister Erna Solberg visited PCI Biotech to learn about the PCI technology from researcher Anette Weyergang. Photo: Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park

PDT/PCI application grant 2021

Erna Solberg visits PCI Biotech

Radforsk annually distribute funding to photodynamic therapy and photochemical internalization (PDT/PCI) related research. Application deadline will for 2021 be January 15. Please note that one project will be chosen to receive a larger project grant on 1,25 MNOK per year for 3 years, in this application round.

 

Radforsk has one main call for applications for funding for research projects relating to PDT or PCI each year:

  • The maximum amount that can be applied for per project is NOK 300,000, and the total amount to be awarded for all projects is NOK 1,250,000
  • Funding for a larger project will be announced every other year, 2019, 2021 etc:
    The chosen project will be awarded a total amount of NOK 3,750,000,  NOK 1,250,000 every year for three years without sending new applications
  • All Oslo University Hospital employees can apply for funding
  • The deadline for the call for applications will be 15 January 2021
  • Please see application details here: Guidelines for resources to PDT/PCI related research (English) and Retningslinjer ved tildeling av forskningsmidler (Norwegian)

 

Applications, containing a description of the project, may be sent to:
Bente Prestegård: bp@radforsk.no

If you have received a grant for PDT/PCI projects previously, you must provide a project report with your new application.

 

Background:

The objective for Radforsk is to advance cancer research and contribute to better and more effective diagnoses, treatment, care, and prevention of cancer. Research funding is one of several instruments Radforsk has and uses to reach these goals.

Radforsk’s board of directors has decided that funding will be announced for research projects in the areas photodynamic therapy (PDT) or photochemical internalisation (PCI). This decision is due to a prior agreement involving Photocure from when Radforsk was technology transfer office for the Norwegian Radium Hospital.

The mentors described their diverse roads into science and research to the second-year students at Ullern Upper Secondary School. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen.

Mentor meeting: many roads to reach your goal

The second-year class of the Researcher Programme at Ullern Upper Secondary School has been assigned new mentors for the school year 2020/2021. The first meeting with the mentors was about how the road to becoming a researcher or doctor or other occupation can be diverse and take many different routes.

This article was originally published in Norwegian on our School Collaboration website.

The students in the second year of the Researcher Programme at Ullern Upper Secondary School are used to having mentors guiding them during the school year, and inspiring and challenging them. This year, all the mentors, except for Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen, are new to the students. These are the mentors:

  • Henrik Sveinsson, a physics researcher at the University of Oslo,
  • Steven Ray Wilson, a chemist and professor at the University of Oslo,
  • Janne Nestvold, laboratory manager at Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator,
  • Severin Langberg, a PhD student in machine learning and cancer at the Norwegian Cancer Registry (absent from this meeting).

The meeting included introductions of all the mentors and a Q&A session.

Henrik Sveinsson

“I was fascinated by the financial crisis in 2008 and how they used math to cover up the fraud in big banks like Lehman Brothers. I applied to Norway’s Business School in Bergen to study economy, but I learnt quickly that I should have gone to the University of Oslo to study social economics, so I did that instead. Coincidentally, I took up a physics course and became very interested in that, and ended up as a physicist.”

Henrik Sveinsson became interested in the financial crisis of 2008, and how math was used to cover up the economic situation in the big banks that led to the crisis. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen.

Henrik Sveinsson became interested in the financial crisis of 2008 and how math was used to cover up what the big banks were doing. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen.

 

Steven Ray Wilson

Steven studied psychology first, but then switched to chemistry, and is today professor at the Institute for Chemistry at the University of Oslo. He and his students work with pharmaceuticals, drugs and doping, and use chemistry to measure concentration levels in the body.

“Chemistry was the core of everything I thought was cool,” he said to the students of the Researcher Programme about why he chose to study chemistry.

Steven is also a musician, has worked professionally as a musician for periods and even won the Norwegian music award “Spellemanspris”. He encourages the students to have a passion besides their jobs. In one of the research projects he leads, they are cultivating mini-organs to faster test the efficacy and side-effects of drugs, as an alternative to animal testing.

Steven Ray Wilson to the left in the image, tells the students about his experiences from a combined life as a researcher and musician. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

Steven Ray Wilson (to the left) tells the students about his experiences from combining careers in research and music. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

 

Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen

Øyvind is a doctor by education, has worked as a surgeon and led the cancer vaccine company Ultimovacs. He tells the students that the road to get there was not always straightforward:

“I dropped out of upper secondary school and went for a long time on unemployment activities as a youth. One of the jobs was to clean test tubes in the laboratory at the Dentist School. After a while, I got more fun assignments and even participated in research into fluor in drinking water, among other things. Then, I finished upper secondary school by picking up some courses and worked at Dikemark as an unskilled worker. That was when I decided to study medicine and retook some subjects to be accepted to the medical programme.

“After that, I worked a lot with developing a vaccine against a contagious form of meningitis at the Norwegian Institute for Public Health. I am very proud to have been a part of that because this vaccine now saves hundreds of thousands of people’s lives.”

Janne Nestvold

Janne manages the research laboratory at Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator and helps biotech start-ups. She has a PhD in immunology and a background as a cancer researcher at the Institute for Cancer Research, and several other places. Before her career in research, she studied social anthropology and worked with drug addicts in Oslo. That was when she became interested in the combination of drugs and psychology and began to study biology.

Image caption: Janne Nestvold today manages the laboratory in Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator and has a background in both social anthropology and cancer research. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen.

Janne Nestvold today manages the laboratory in Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator and has a background in both social anthropology and cancer research. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen.

 


Questions & Answers


Steven, what kind of music do you like – besides your own band?

“To play in a band and be creative is in many ways like being a researcher. Miles Davies is my biggest musical hero. He was extremely innovative and a tough guy unafraid to make any mistakes. When the band played something wrong, the point was to use the mistake to make something completely new in the music.

“Making mistakes is more about how you handle them than anything else. It is about being able to use the imperfect creatively, which I always remember in life, both generally and in research.”

 

Øyvind, how was everyday life when you worked as a surgeon?

“When I worked shifts as a surgeon, they would go on for about 27 hours. We would start at 7:00 am in the morning with a meeting, where we would learn something new. Then, we reviewed all the patients scheduled for surgery that day and assigned the tasks and surgeries among ourselves. The shift team got the easiest surgeries, so we could help the surgeons in the emergency room at Oslo University Hospital when seriously injured patients were admitted. If you were lucky, you got to sleep a little during the night.

“Then, it was the next morning. We had another meeting to report what had happened during the shift, and then we were supposed to visit the patients. I refused to do that, because it is not acceptable for the patients that an exhausted, tired doctor comes in to talk with them.”

The students listened intently to all the advice from their new mentors: Steven, Henrik, Øyvind and Janne. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen.

The students listened intently to all the advice from their new mentors: Steven, Henrik, Øyvind and Janne. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen.

 

Janne, how do you get a reliable result when you perform research?

“Preparations make up half the work. I worked a lot with animal testing, which means you must think through everything before the experiment. For example, the accurate dosage for sick animals and healthy animals. It is very expensive to do these experiments, so it is important that everything is set up correctly. Afterwards, you analyse the results in a research group, and then you publish the results. If others cite your research, it spreads in the environment, and has an impact on other research in the same field.”

 

Question for everyone: why do you want to be our mentors?

Janne: “I want you to know that a career in science is an exciting path to take. Every day you are in the middle of everything here at Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park. There are a lot of opportunities here with the Incubator and the Institute for Cancer Research. I want to show you what some of those opportunities are.”

Steven: “It is fun to follow your journeys. As I told you earlier, I have been a mentor for over 40 students so far, and it is like being in a time machine. In a couple of years, you will do academic and professional things that are amazing, so it is fun to participate and observe and help a little in your lives.”

Henrik: “I am not completely sure, but I accepted the offer immediately. It feels important, when I think it through now, to give you an insight into physics and to contribute to the choices you will make.”

Øyvind: “Some of the most fun things I do are to teach, and I can’t decline when I am the Chairman of Oslo Cancer Cluster (jokingly). Honestly, it is fun for me to contribute as your mentor, so that is the reason.”

 

The mentors gathered with one metre distance apart. From left to right: Steven Ray Wilson, Henrik Sveinsson (behind), Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen (in front) and Janne Nestvold. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen.

The mentors gathered with one-metre distance apart. From left to right: Steven Ray Wilson, Henrik Sveinsson (behind), Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen (in front) and Janne Nestvold. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen.

 

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Photo: Stig Jarnes/Oslo Cancer Cluster

More precise cancer treatments with digital solutions

Ketil Widerberg, general manager, Oslo Cancer Cluster.

Ketil Widerberg, general manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster, gives his perspectives on why EHiN and digital health are important for faster development of new cancer treatments in Norway.

 

This interview was first published on EHiN’s website in Norwegian.

 

What do you think are the biggest challenges in the health sector today?

One challenge in cancer treatments is to give the right medicine to the right patient at the right time. This is called precision medicine and means that cancer treatments can to a greater extent be tailored to the individual patient. The government recently proposed more money for this in the State Budget for 2021. There are already digital tools that can identify more targeted treatments ready to be put to use. One example is our member NEC OncoImmunity, who are using artificial intelligence to develop new personalised immunotherapies against cancer.

Another big challenge is to shorten the development time for new cancer medicines. The corona pandemic has shown us that it is possible to quickly develop new treatments, initiate clinical studies and gather data. The analysis of health data will be essential for the development and approval of new treatments. It is important that national infrastructure, such as the Health Analysis Platform, is put in place. One inspiring company is our member Ledidi; their software solution was recently approved for all Covid-19-studies at Oslo University Hospital. This tool can also be used in cancer research to make quick statistical analysis and to cooperate across research groups, hospitals and countries.

A third challenge is how we involve the cancer patient in their own treatment. New technology, for example the data platform from our member Kaiku Health, enables the patients to self-report symptoms in real-time. If we can gather data on pain and side effects every day, instead of every third month, our understanding of cancer improves and the doctor can do a better job.

 

How can you contribute digitally to the health sector?

Oslo Cancer Cluster contributes to the digitalisation of the health sector by connecting pharmaceutical companies and biotech start-ups in cancer with tech companies.

Among other things, we are coordinating the Horizon 2020 EU-project “DIGI-B-CUBE”, which provides funds to collaboration projects between small to medium-sized companies in IT and health. They try to find digital solutions to challenges in the health sector.

Our cluster is also a part of the consortium «NORA EDIH – Norwegian Artificial Intelligence Research Consortium» that was recently selected as one of eight Digital Innovation Hubs that Innovation Norway will recommend to Digital Europe Programme. These innovation centres will be essential to stimulate increased use of digital solutions.

 

How has Covid-19 affected you?

Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator has put several measures in place to keep laboratories and offices open to ensure that important cancer research and patient treatment can continue as normal during the pandemic. Start-ups, researchers and the incubator have received more support from the financial apparatus for business development, in order to strengthen the health industry in this period of uncertainty. In addition, the Incubator has updated its IT infrastructure to facilitate the increased use of digital solutions from home offices and streaming of meetings and events.

Covid-19 has proven that the health industry is important for society – to fight pandemics, to contribute to better health and to create value. Norwegian companies in health experience great interest from investors now. One example is our member Vaccibody, who signed the largest biotechnology agreement in Norway ever this month and later was listed on Merkur Market (Oslo Stock Exchange), valued at NOK 17 billion.

Covid-19 has also created challenges for cancer patients that missed treatments because of the risk of getting infected and for those who have avoided important health checks because they don’t want to put any extra stress on the health services. Pharma companies experienced a challenge to keep clinical trials running in the beginning of the pandemic, but most hospitals have facilitated this now.

One positive side-effect of the pandemic is that social distancing has led to a rapid digitalisation of the health sector and put digital health at the top of the agenda.

 

What do you expect from EHiN?

EHiN is an arena that connects cross-sectional initiatives in digitalisation and biology across public institutions and private companies. It is a meeting place to find good digital solutions that can be implemented in the health sector and can position Norway internationally in long-term trends, which also creates great value for society.

At EHiN, you will meet different decision makers and participate in setting the political agenda for e-health. We need to continue to stress the importance of good public-private collaboration to develop, test and approve treatments for cancer patients.

 

What else would you like to communicate?

EHiN is important because collaboration is the key to create changes in health. We are working now with an application to become a health catapult centre, in collaboration with several innovation environments in health. If we succeed, we can strengthen the health industry by offering important services to small and medium-sized enterprises in digital health.

We also think it is very positive that the Norwegian Cancer Society have a good collaboration with EHiN. It shows how important e-health in Norway is for the entire cancer community.

 

Meet Ketil Widerberg as he moderates the session “Fremtidsmennesket” on 10 November 2020 at 11:00-12:00 during EHiN 2020. 

Register to EHiN here

 

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