Category Archives: SCIENCE AND MORE

Why, What, How: Four MTLS students sharing their thesis stories

How important is master project? We all know that

  • It worths one-fourth of academic credits

  • Students are free to choose where to carry out their thesis work

  • 30% students (in Sweden) found their employment directly through master thesis

  • Students acquire essential skills and connections with industry/academia, which eventually build up employability

So, how are our students doing? This weekend, I have the pleasure to chat with four of MTLS students from my class, who are doing their master thesis at different places and working on a diverse scheme of topics! They are:  Leonie (Karolinska Institute in Solna), Mounika (Gabather AB in Huddinge), Dimitri (KTH main campus) and Carolina (Harvard Medical School).


1. Leonie von Berlin, Germany

Group: Sten Linarsson (Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Karolinska Institute)

Project: Pipeline development for definition and mapping of cells in human brain with single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq)

The most important lesson I learned is the following: Science takes time. A  LOT OF TIME. If we all accept that four months are barely enough to produce important results and stay relaxed and stay relax, the master project can be a great time of learning and scientific communication. And for having fun!

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Nobel lecture at the scene: 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

“It is the “Nobel Prize” in ……” is a complement when we describe something highly respectable, prestigious, or festival-like. Now, I will take you to an event, that nothing can be even more respectable, prestigious or festival-like than it —— Yes, I mean the Nobel Lecture in Physiology or Medicine held in Aula Medica, Stockholm!

The lecture is free of entry fee and registration: the only thing required is patience. In order to get a good seat, my friend and I entered at 11.30 (still, we were only able to find a seat on the fifth last row). Suddenly, a crest was approaching closer and closer from the first row. We immediately realised:  came the three Nobel laureates!

It began with the welcoming speeches Karolinsa’s vice chancellor Ole Peter Otersen and a Nobel  committee member at Karolinska. The three laureates, and their landmark study that awards them the Nobel prize, were introduced.

From left to right: Jeffery C Hall, Michael Rosbash, Michael Young

Then, the main dish of this afternoon: three speeches, each 40 min, from each Nobel laureate.

Jeffery C Hall

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Don’t miss anything at KTH Campus 100

Next week 16th – 20th October, KTH Campus at Valhallavägen will celebrate its 100th birthday.

KTH is the cradle of 1/3 of research and education in engineering in Sweden and at the same time proud of its motto “Science and Art“: you must be curious about how these scientists and engineers will celebrate this once-in-a-century monument. Check this post so that you won’t miss anything happening during this special week!

Of course, most of the events will take place at KTH campus, that is the closest to the centre of Stockholm.

During 16th October (Monday) to 20th October (Friday), seminars, exhibitions and guided tours will be held in the classrooms, auditoriums, labs and in the open areas of the campus: literally, science and art will be circulating all around!


SEMINAR MARATHON: 100 lecturers in 50 hours

The Seminar Marathon that takes place in the Dome of Vision is definitely the pinnacle of the KTH Campus 100 celebrations. For 50 hours, 100 luminaries take the turn to deliver a 30-min lecture each. The topics of the lectures cover these areas:

Some of the speakers

Christer Fuglesang: first Swedish astronaut, Professor and Director of KTH Space Center.

Uhlén Mathius: Pioneer of Next Generation Sequencing, Professor of Microbiology at KTH.

Location: Dome of Vision, KTH Campus

Date: 12: 00, 2017-10-17 (Tue)  – 14:00,  2017-10-19 (Thr)

Registration: Not required


The event will be live streamed through the above link.

Dome of Vision, KTH Valhallavägen


Connected to Science and Art, KTH organizes two types of guided tours: LAB TOURS and CAMPUS TOURS.

Lab Tours

Given that KTH is where the first nuclear reaction in Sweden took place, you can never imagine how many spectacular things are happening at KTH labs. But now you have the chance!

The lab tours will take you into the FUSION DEPARTMENT, DEPARTMENT OF ROBOTICS and ANECHOIC CHAMBER. To ensure the quality of the tour, only 15 people are allowed. This implies that places are running out soon!

Fusion Lab at KTH

Date: 16:30 – 18:00, 16th to 18th Oct

Registration: mandatory and AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

Link for

Campus Tours

Rambling in the beautiful KTH Campus at Valhallavägen is a travel that both brings you back in time and leads you to the future. The guided tours will tell you the history of and anecdotes from KTH: there is an interesting story behind every building.

Date: 12 – 13, 16th to 18th Oct

Registration: mandatory and AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

Link for registration


There are exhibitions at three places:

1. Exhibition at KTH Entré

Theme: 100 years of Swedish Architecture History

Date: 8:30 – 16:30, from 16th to 20th Oct (Mon – Fri)

Location: KTH Entré Drottning Kristinas väg 4

2. Exhibition at KTH Library

Date: 16th to 10th Oct (Mon – Fri)

Location: KTH Biblioteket, Osquars backe 31

3. Outdoor Lighting Installation

Presented by international students from the master’s programme in Architectural Lighting Design, the outdoor lighting Installation is the realization of an innovative idea originated from the KTH Lighting Laboratory. Through lighting up the darkness, visiting the campus at night must be an unforgettable experience during the celebrations!

Date: 18 – 22, from 17th to 19th Oct

Location: Borggården near main building at Lindstedtsvägen 3

Registration: the opening at 18:00 on 17th Oct can be register through this link

4. Exhibition in the Teaching House:

The newly erected Teaching House is open to visitors.

Location: Undervisningshuset, Brinellvägen 28

Date: 7 – 19, 17th October

Registration: Not required

Enjoy, and see you on campus 😀

Nobel Prize Countdown!!!

The recipient of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine will be announced TOMORROW —- it is also the first Nobel Prize to be unmasked this year! This is definitely the zenith in life science research in a year: elation and excitement are all around, plus fervid speculation on who is the lucky one.

While everyone has their favorite researchers and researches, they are my top three:

1. Gene editing: CRISPR-Cas9

Probably you never heard about the term CRISPR-Cas9, but you should be able recognize these news:


Yes, CRISPR is the driver behind these amazing things! CRISPR-Cas9 technology enables gene editing in a simple and reliable way, hence it has stormed both research molecular and medicine, at an unprecedented rate.

2. Immunotherapy: CAR T cells

“The living drug”, this is how Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell is called.

In short, the technology empower our body’s own immune cells to fight against cancer, by engineering and coating the surface of T cell so that it binds and kills a cancer cell specifically. You can imagine that cancer treatment will be no longer a torture: not only because the CAR T cells target cancer cells, but also it will not hurt the body as it is an intact part for it. What makes it more promising is that it is approved this year as a treatment to leukemia.

3. Structural Biology: cyro-EM

(But maybe it should be enlisted in Nobel Prize in Chemistry?)

In biology and its extended field, structure is the fundamental of everything: without knowing the structure, how can you study the function and interaction of a biomolecule? Indeed, it can take ten years to determine the structure of a complex protein using traditional technique called X-ray crystallography.

I have an example here: it takes 10+ years until Peter Agre and Roderick McKinnon elucidated the structure of Aquaporin, then they won a Nobel Prize for this discovery (Well, 10 years for Nobel Prize, is not bad). The emergence of cryo-EM speeds up this process, it is undoubtedly a giant leap in science!

But as we are in Sweden, the hometown of Nobel Prize, there is a lot more things to be involved in than the above speculation and anticipation. The announcement of Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine heralds the opening of the Nobel Season, which won’t fade until the end of this year! I am also sharing my ever-expanding list below (as I am still eagerly waiting for updates at

1. Nobel Prize Announcement 

11.30 AM, 2 Oct

Nobel Assembly,  Karolinska Institutet, Wallenbergsalen, Nobel Forum, Nobels väg 1, Solna, Stockholm

2. Nobel Week Dialogue: The Future of Truth

9 December 2017, Gothenburg

Online registration opened 18 Oct 2017

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Concentrating in basic research: what I saw in KAW100

In the area of scientific research, especially those concentrate in fundamental, mechanistic understanding, the major blockade is definitely looking for funding opportunity. That’s why I heard of the Wallenberg Foundation (in a research group’s prate, indeed) much earlier than recognizing that the Wallenberg Family regimens Swedish finance sector, indirectly contributes to half of the country’s income! It wasn’t until last Friday, that Jubilee Symposium in Molecular Science of Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW100), answers a part of my curiosity.

Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation

Founded by the couple Knut and Alice Wallenberg, KAW aims at promoting excellent Swedish research and education since 1917. As the foundation is stepping into its 100th year right now, a handful of symposia covering digital technology, life science, physics and social science were held or are in schedule staring from April across the country.

Of course, I was in the one on 15th September!

My name card. A day starts in Science!

Molecular Life Science Symposium

There are three topics in this symposium, namely proteomics, structural biology and human evolutionary biology. In each session, it starts with the presentation from one of the luminaries in the field about their landmark work, followed by exciting work done by young, local scientists.

After the welcome remarks, Prof. Carol Robinson from Oxford University is the first presenter:


For the general public, Prof. Robinson is perhaps most well known for her title as the first chemistry professor and Oxford, and completion of her phD degree with only two years. But only after studying Biophysical Chemistry and Proteomics, I learn to appreciate her scientific achievement: structural study of membrane protein using mass spectrometry (MS).

Typical membrane-spanning proteins can be receptor, ion channel or energy pump, the thing that they share is that they are big, complex, and oil-liking. With these properties, it is almost predestine that they are extremely hard to isolate and purify, probably defy attempts in crystallization as well. Compared to X-ray crystallization, MS opens a new door to studying of this “rebellious” member of protein family.

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