- Published: 17 November 2015
CRISPR-Cas9 is a technique, invented in collaboration with researchers at Umeå University, allowing scientists to make small edits in the genetic material of an organism, edits that can also occur naturally. Instead of hoping that such edits occur by natural recombination, they can now be deliberately introduced in a targeted and precise manner. CRISPR-Cas9 can thus be used in many ways in plant science and breeding.
Plants that fall within the scope of EU GMO legislation are subject to a very strict regulatory regime (in reality making it impossible to grow them in the field in most EU countries). Plants that fall outside the scope can be grown without restriction. Since “inside or outside of the GMO definition” will decide whether or not plant scientists will be able to use the technique for practical applications, plant scientists and breeders have been waiting for the authorities’ decision concerning CRISPR-Cas9.
Outside the EU, countries such as Argentina have announced that similarly edited plants fall outside their GMO legislation, but no decision has been taken yet inside the EU. A complicating factor is that the technique can be used in several different ways with the consequence that some of the resulting plants may fall outside while others may fall inside the GMO legislation. Now, for the first time, concrete examples have been evaluated by a competent authority, and the Swedish Board of Agriculture announced today their opinion that some Arabidopsis plants that have been modified using CRISPR-Cas9 fall within the scope of the legislation while others do not.
- Published: 17 January 2016
[15-12-03] For the fourth time Carl Kempe, the chair of the Kempe Foundations, presented the Gunnar Öquist Fellows during a ceremony at the Chemical Biological Centre KBC. This year, two researchers at UPSC received each a SEK 3 million research grant and a SEK 50,000 personal funding. Judith Felten, researcher at the UPSC-department for Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology (SLU), and Olivier Keech, associate professor at the UPSC-department of Plant Physiology (UmU), are the two awardees.
During the ceremony Gunnar Öquist reminded the audience on the Aarhus declaration 2012 and its five principles on how excellence in research is sustained and nutured: Recognising and nuturing talents, trust and freedom for outstanding researchers, long-term perspectives for pursuing truly novel research, creative and dynamic research envionments, and providing research funding that stimulates the exchange of knowledge between different research areas. The Kempe Foundation's fellowship will give the two young plant scientists the freedom to conduct new research projects in a highly interdisciplinary research environment at the UPSC and KBC. The emeritus professor and former permanent secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences will act as a mentor for the two young scientists.
- Published: 26 January 2016
UPSC Berzelii is one of the 3 centres that are approved for the fourth phase of funding in the Berzelii programme. The committee especially emphasized the centre’s excellent connection between academic and industrial partners. The interface between basic research and applied research was presented as “unique”. The committee pointed out that the scientific output was of very high quality with the “crown of jewel”, the draft of the genome sequence of Norway spruce in 2013. Crucial for the success of the UPSC Berzelii Centre is a “strong, active and visionary board working with and supporting a strong director” to bring the centre to this high standard. The committee also pointed out that the Umeå Centre showed a “robust and effective” strategy for long-term vision and mission.
"We are very pleased for this exceptionally positive evaluation of the programme that has taken almost ten years to set up. During this time we have established an increasingly close collaboration with forest industry partners to improve basic research while understanding the industry's problems and needs. It is particularly encouraging that a centre which is based on excellent basic research is highlighted as we proved that the translation from basic research breakthroughs into practical applications does not take as long as we think," comments Professor Ove Nilsson, director of the UPSC Berzelii Centre from the beginning in 2007.