New honorary doctors in the Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy

2 November 2022

The faculties at Uppsala University have now decided on the award of honorary doctorates for 2022. Among new honorary doctors in the Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy are researchers in the fields of genetics and pulmonary disease, as well as a journalist and a special coordinator appointed by the government to manage vaccine supply during the pandemic.

Faculty of Pharmacy

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Richard Bergström was Sweden’s national vaccine coordinator. He lives in Switzerland. Occupying an important and highly visible role during the pandemic, he proved to be highly effective and clear in his communication. A graduate of the Master of Science Programme in Pharmacy at Uppsala University, Bergström has since amassed broad international experience in the pharmaceuticals sector, working for both public authorities and major drug companies and lobbying organisations. He has maintained close contact with Uppsala University throughout his career, especially with the Faculty of Pharmacy and its student union.

Siew Chai is an associate professor and researcher at the Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash

University in Australia. She did groundbreaking work early in her career by identifying the macromolecular target for the endogenous cognition enhancer angiotensin IV. This newly acquired knowledge opened the door to a new type of drug with potential applications in the treatment of dementia diseases such as Alzheimer’s. In addition to an extensive list of publications, Chai also holds a number of patents. For the last decade, Chai’s research group has been collaborating extensively with researchers at Uppsala University.

Faculty of Medicine

Alexander Masters is an author and freelance journalist based in the United Kingdom. His committed journalism has been crucial to establishing a unique clinical trial for patients with severe cancers at Uppsala University Hospital. After writing an article in the Telegraph newspaper about promising research into a new virus treatment for cancer developed at Uppsala University, and the lack of funding for clinical trials, Masters initiated a crowdfunding campaign that collected around SEK 14 million for the purpose. The ethics of using crowdfunding to sponsor clinical studies is a new and important issue that Masters has highlighted in lectures and scientific journals.

Michel Georges is professor of genetics at the University of Liège in Belgium and director of GIGA-R, a centre of excellence for medical and veterinary research.

He has made a number of breakthroughs in the field of genetics, often using domestic animals as models for mapping how genetic mutations in cattle, dogs, sheep and pigs affect important physiological characteristics, such as muscle mass and milk composition, as well as several monogenic diseases. Georges has also conducted successful human genetic research aimed at mapping genetic risk factors for Crohn’s disease, cardiovascular disease and cystic fibrosis. He has been collaborating to excellent effect with researchers at Uppsala University for many years.

Cecilia Svanes is professor at the Centre for International Health at the Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen. Svanes’ research area is asthma, allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She specialises in the impact of childhood environments on the origins of respiratory health and disease. Over recent years, she has been conducting comparative studies of respiratory health in different generations. Her studies suggest that there are epigenetic mechanisms at work that pass on predispositions to asthma and allergies from one generation to the next, and that these predispositions can be affected by environmental factors. Svanes’ research demonstrates that there are specific periods during which a person is especially vulnerable to environmental impact on respiratory health, and that the effects can then be passed on to the sufferer’s child. Svanes has been collaborating with researchers at Uppsala University for over 20 years.

Awarding honorary doctorates

The title honorary doctor (doctor honoris causa) is conferred upon individuals who have done outstanding academic work or in some other way promoted research at the University. The title is in the gift of the faculties themselves, not the vice-chancellor or University Management.

The conferment ceremony for new honorary doctors will be held in the University Main Building on 27 January 2023.

Learn more about honorary doctorates and previous awards by the University’s faculties.