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The SCC Article of the Year Award goes to...

Graphic illustration of the Article of the Year Award. Illustration.

Each year, Lund Stem Cell Center presents one of its members with its Article of the Year Award. This year three distinguished nominees contended for the title. Among them, Marie Jönsson, representing the research group Molecular Neurogenetics, was awarded Article of the Year 2021, for their work in revealing how the activation of ancient viruses during brain development causes inflammation.

In the fall of 2017, Lund Stem Cell Center presented the first Article of the Year Award to acknowledge and celebrate the novel discoveries made by its members. Since then, each year, Principal Investigators from across the Center have been invited to nominate publications written by researchers in their group for the chance to win the prestigious award. 

Once nominated, each nominee is invited to present their research findings during the Center’s Annual Retreat. It is here with all members gathered that the Article of the Year, selected through an external evaluation process, is revealed.

Three Distinguished Nominees – Hijacked RNA, Ancient Viruses, and 3D printed airways

This May, the three nominees representing the Center’s top publications for 2021 took to the stage to present their research during the Lund Stem Cell Center Annual Retreat in Båstad, Sweden:

The Article of the Year Award ceremony opened with Maciej Ciesla, PhD. Maciej, representing the research group RNA and Stem Cell Biology, presented their findings published in Molecular Cell. Together, the team of researchers uncovered a novel mechanism by which cancer cells hijack ribonucleic acid (RNA) processing to alter genetic programs that impact tumor metabolism and plasticity. These findings provide important insights into the molecular mechanisms that adapt genetic information to sustain tumor development. 

Nominated for the second consecutive year, Marie Jönsson, PhD, representing the research group Molecular Neurogenetics, was next to present their research published in The EMBO Journal. Marie discussed how they wanted to know more about ancient viruses which haunt the human genome. Their work revealed how the dysregulation of endogenous retroviruses during development can lead to brain inflammation and gene expression patterns associated with various neurological disorders later in life. 

Martina de Santis, PhD, representing the research group Lung Cell and Molecular Biology and Bioengineering, joined digitally to describe their work, published in Advanced Materials. Martina's talk showcased the design of a new bio-ink that allows small human-sized airways to be 3D-bioprinted with the help of patient cells for the first time. She also highlighted that the 3D-printed constructs are biocompatible and support new blood vessel growth into the transplanted material, presenting an important first step toward 3D-printing organs.

And the award goes to…

As with every year, it was a close race between the three strong contenders for this year’s Article of the Year Award. In the end, it was the novel findings that revealed the importance of controlling endogenous retroviruses, viral elements that reside in the genome, and how their activation during development may contribute to brain disorders later in life, that soared across the finish line. With that, Marie Jönsson took home the metaphorical trophy and the 50 000 SEK prize awarded to her affiliated research group for the second year.

- It was a tough competition, and I’m absolutely thrilled for our study to be awarded Article of the Year. I love this study - not only because of the great teamwork and because it provides solid data, elegantly demonstrating the importance of transposable elements in certain brain disorders, but also because it accompanied my colleagues and me in the lab for so many years that it became like a dear old friend. It progressed and took shape as techniques were developed around the world and turned out to be a showcase of techniques that we now have up our sleeve (e.g., CRISPR both in vitro and in vivo, single nuclei RNA-seq of brain tissue, and high content screening), explained Marie Jönsson. 

- It's of course always nice to receive recognition for accomplishments and since I put my pipettes on the shelf about a year ago to become the Grant Manager at the Center, this award warms my heart a little extra. I also really like to go out with a bang, so this did the trick, concluded Marie.

Lund Stem Cell Center would like to acknowledge the continuous efforts of our members in advancing stem cell research and regenerative medicine. The Center would also like to thank each of the nominees for their participation in the Article of the Year Award process and congratulate this year's awardees.

About the Article of the Year Awardee

Marie Jönsson holding the Article of the Year Award 2021. Photo: Alexis Luis.
Marie Jönsson with the Article of the Year Award 2021.

Marie Jönsson, earned her Ph.D. in 2009 from Lund University before conducting two postdoctoral fellowships and joining the Molecular Neurogenetics research group, led by Professor Johan Jakobsson as a Senior Scientist. A position which she held for seven years before transitioning into a new role within Lund Stem Cell Center as the Grant Manager. It was during her time as a Senior Scientist that she worked on this publication. Today, she uses her scientific background to help other researchers at the Lund Stem Cell Center, from a variety of scientific fields to strategically plan and communicate their research. Outside of work she likes to spend time with her family and friends, play padel , and go hiking in the beauty of the Swedish wilderness. 

Profile in the Lund University research portal

Link to the research group, Molecular Neurogenetics