Invited Speakers

Nikoloai Astrup
Nikoloai Astrup – Photo: Fotograf Sturlason/Utenriksdepartementet

Nikolai Astrup

Minister of Digitalisation

Welcome speech Thursday 11:00

The Minister of Digitalisation is responsible for ICT policy in the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation. The Minister is also responsible for the work on electronic communications, including responsibility for the Norwegian Communications Authority. In addition, the Minister is responsible for the Altinn portal, business-oriented ICT, the Digital21 strategy for digitalisation of businesses in Norway, and resources for ICT research.

John Sigrurd Mjøen Svendsen
John Sigurd Mjøen Svendsen – Photo: Marit Helgerud

John Sigurd Mjøen Svendsen

Professor of Organic Chemistry, at University of Tromsø – the Arctic University of Norway (UiT)

Keynote speech Thursday 11:45

John Sigurd Mjøen Svendsen is the key researcher behind several of the large research projects at UiT where the common denominator is the quest to find molecules with features that can be used effectively in pharmaceuticals. The search area is – conveniently for the Tromsø researchers – where mollusks, marine fungus and micro algae gather: the ocean.
Material from the ocean and the ocean bed has been sampled by researchers for over a decade. Among other pharmaceuticals, John Sigurd and his colleagues are investigating whether the collected samples contain molecules that potentially can be developed into the new Antibiotics. Going through the samples in search of new drugs is not new. What is new with the approach, is that the researchers are developing new methods that enable improved analysis of the samples and molecules, than what was possible prior.
– We want to search for new Antibiotics where no one has searched before; we search for larger molecules with antibiotic features, larger than the small ones that were discovered many years ago, John Sigurd said to a local Tromsø paper earlier this year.
An important factor that enables this approach; to develop new methods, is the super computer UiT inaugurated two years ago. The computer has the largest computational capacity in Norway, larger than all other current computational systems in the country – altogether. John Sigurd’s research projects are a heavy client of the super computer.
The unique computer is also a vital tool in another of John Sigurd’s projects, where they are searching for marine molecules to use in pharmaceuticals to combat an enzyme believed to cause Alzheimer. – Once we have the three best candidates of this molecule, my work with this is over. Then remains the testing on animals and patients, and then preparations for manufacturing. We are going to move from mg to kg, so we need to build industry, said John Sigurd in this interesting article in Teknisk Ukeblad: Skal kurere Alzheimer med norskutviklet medisin (in Norwegian).

Jennie Ekbeck
Jennie Ekbeck – Photo: Lindsten & Nilsson

Jennie Ekbeck

CEO at Umeå Biotech Incubator, Sweden

Keynote speech Thursday 13:30

Jennie Ekbeck has the rare honor of being decorated as «Innovations Angel» – an award given to a distinct person who contributes to a better innovation climate in Sweden. Ekbeck earned the title through her work at the Umeå Biotech Incubator (UBI), by improving the possibilities for Swedish scientists to approach the business world, and creating commercial products from ideas arising from their research.

– At UBI we work with people who are very competent and experienced within their field, but when they come to us they are novices… We match them with people who are as experienced as them, in drug- or product development, an equal partner with complementary know-how, she says in one interview.

Ekbeck is an expert on how to develop research within the Life Sciences into commercial businesses and has been invited speaker at Future Sweden Danish Life Science and Life Science Days, inspirational speaker at Swelife and contributed to panel conversations at Sweden bio and the Swedish Foundation for Strategis Research. She has experience with lecturing for both scientitsts and students.

Heidrun Åm
Heidrun Åm – Photo: Thor Nielsen

Heidrun Åm

Senior Researcher at the Centre for Technology and Society at the Department for Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, NTNU

Keynote speech Thursday 14:15

Over multiple years, Heidrun Åm has explored the governance of science and technology in her research, emphasizing mainly on nano- and biotechnology, sustainable energy and society, and interdisciplinarity. Her political science background is an important contribution to the society-oriented mission of the Centre for Digital Life Norway. Consequently, it is perhaps no surprise that Heidrun also leads a DLN-project exploring questions of social responsibility and social concerns arising from computational biotechnology: «Res Publica. Responsibility, practice, and the public good across Digital Life».

At Digital Life 2019, Heidrun will ask which common good we talk about when we talk about value creation through Digital Life Norway. By explicating what is at stake, she will offer a critical evaluation of different paths towards the future.

Frank Lindseth
Frank Lindseth

Frank Lindseth

Professor at Department of Computer and Information Science (NTNU) and Senior Research Scientist at SINTEF Medical Technology.

Keynote speech Friday 09:00

Frank Lindseth is a professor in the computer science department at NTNU and a core member of the Norwegian Open AI Lab. His research field is visual computing with special focus on computer vision, an area completely taken over by data-driven methods and AI. Lindseth has over 20 years of experience in the medical field, working at SINTEF Medical Technology and the national advisory unit for ultrasound and image-guided therapy in close collaboration with surgeons at St. Olav university hospital. Furthermore, Lindseth has been the project leader of several medical image computing related projects and the application of computer vision and AI methods in the medical field is still one of his key interests.

Kjetill S. Jakobsen
Kjetill S. Jakobsen

Kjetill S. Jakobsen

Professor at Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (UiO).

Keynote speech Friday 11:15

The research of Kjetill S. Jakobsen has dealt with quite diverse aspects of evolutionary genetics and genomics. A main theme in his work relates to the genetic forces (both ongoing and historical) acting upon populations, and how the genetics relates to ecological and evolutionary processes. In this context, issues such as phenotypic plasticity, selective forces and epigenetic phenomena are of special interest.

Essential ingredients in his interdisciplinary approach are genomics, bioinformatics, statistics and phylogeny, combined with evolutionary and ecological thinking. Through this, he works on bridging the gap between organism-oriented research (evolutionary and ecological research), and genomics/molecular biology (phenotype-genotype issues).

At Centre for Digital Life Norway he is the workgroup leader of outreach and in-reach communication and is valued by his colleagues for his vast experience, enthusiasm and ability to be outspoken in a very constructive manner.

Ursula Klingmüller
Ursula Klingmüller

Ursula Klingmüller

Professor (Dr.) and head of the research division Systems Biology of Signal Transduction at the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) in Heidelberg.

Ursula Klingmüller is trained in Cell Biology and Molecular Virology from Heidelberg University, Harvard Medical School in Boston and Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge (US). She is since 2016 an elected member of the German Ethics Council and serves in several editorial boards for scientific journals, e.g. since 2015, for Nature Systems Biology and Applications.

The Klingmüller group uses a combination of experimental and theoretical approaches to understand the complex interplay between cell behaviour and signal transduction processes that drive cancer development and tissue generation. The mathematical models generated are used to identify pathological mechanisms and possible intervention strategies. Using this interdisciplinary approach, the research group has contributed with experimental-based mathematical models of key signalling pathways involved in hematopoietic development and malignancies, liver regeneration and lung cancer, to mention some.

The interdisciplinary approach taken is further developed towards application in systems medicine and personalized medicine. Here, they use their developed mathematical models and adapt them to different patient groups or even individual patients for use as tools to optimize treatment protocols.