The KTH Great Prize 2014 awarded to Sara Snogerup Linse
Sara Snogerup Linse was named this year's recipient of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology’s Great Prize and SEK 1.2 million. The award places her in the same company as Robyn, Hans Rosling och Niklas Zennström.
In addition to her protein research, Snogerup Linse is the author of children’s books, with titles such as "Kjetil learns to fly" and "Prince Praline takes the bus".
A professor of physical chemistry at Lund University, Snogerup Linse’s research includes studying specific proteins that play a critical role in the diagnoses of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and diabetes.
Notable among Snogerup Linse’s scientific achievements is a collaboration with a research group in Cambridge which last year identified an important step in the molecular events that lead to nerve cell death in Alzheimer's disease.
“Sara Snogerup Linse is a very deserving winner,” said KTH President Peter Gudmundson. “Her research is of great significance for solving the mystery surrounding some of our major illnesses.”
Summing up its selection of Snogerup Linse, the university stated:
"Through her research in molecular physics, Sara Snogerup Linse has broadened and developed knowledge of proteins’ biophysical chemistry and their pivotal role in some of today's most common diseases, such as diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Her zeal, commitment and expertise paves the way for new and vital knowledge."
Snogerup Linse reacted enthusiastically to the announcement of her prize. “Fantastic fun,” she says, adding that it's a bit hard to take in.
“It’s fun, one must admit. A great honour,” she says. “And of course, it is also a great honour to be in the same company as Robyn.”
She explains that she spends her days on basic research, studying how protein molecules in the human body interact with each other. What are the driving forces? Which effects occur and what parameters control them? These are the questions she is trying to answer.
“I work with basic research; but I try to simultaneously apply it to real-world problems. One such problem is how proteins lump together in an undesirable way,” she says.
There are many active in this research area, she continues. It is all about trying to see what they do, and then try something else. Try to find a field where she can apply their methods and knowledge.
Protein lumps are one area. Understanding the basic mechanisms in which order things happen, and so on.
“Here we have seen that there is a cyclical process. One can rather talk about a self-reinforcing process. A snowball effect,” she says.
Snogerup Linse says her work as a children’s book author is nice contrast to her academic work.
“In research, you write in a completely different way than in fiction,” she says. “Here you have to back up everything with quotes from other researchers or your own data. In children's books you don’t have to explain anything. You can be omniscient, and you are allowed to be a little mysterious too.
“That I draw is probably because I always liked pictures. I like the way in which you can convey emotions and ideas with images. I think very much in pictures, and I always start various research experiments by drawing them up,” she says.
Snogerup Linse says it is too early to say how she intends to use the prize money. “But there are plenty of non-profit activities that I want to support.
“It is important that the money will be used to make a difference,” she says.
Background: Sara Snogerup Linse
Sara Snogerup Linse is 52 and works as a professor of physical chemistry at Lund University.
She graduated with an MSc in Chemical Engineering in 1985 after studying in Lund and at Stanford University. She received her doctorate in 1993 in physical chemistry at Lund. She became Associate Professor in 1997 in physical chemistry in Lund, professor of physical chemistry in 2004 and professor of molecular protein science in 2009.
Snogerup Linse was elected in 2004 as a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 2012 and became a member of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry in 2012.
Along with Kyrre Thalberg, she has also written and illustrated children's books.
About the Great Prize
The KTH Great Prize, which this year is SEK 1.2 million, is payable from the proceeds of an endowment from an anonymous donor. The prize is to be awarded to Swedish citizens who, through academic achievements and discoveries and creation of new value, especially in technology but also in science and art, promote the nation’s prosperity. The prize has been awarded since in 1945.