Meet the team

Dr. Fritiof Pontén has a solid experience of drug development gathered during 17 years at AstraZeneca. He has been active in a wide range of drug project activities ranging from all discovery phases to late stage preclinical studies enabling First Time in Man. Besides his work in drug projects Fritiof has been active within organizational and technical development. He has built up and headed a facility and organisation for scale up of drug candidates from mg to kg during the last 10 years. Fritiof has grown his team from scratch and introduced novel capabilities such as continuous processing, bio-catalysis and asymmetric catalysis in the daily deliveries.

In his role as Senior Scientist and later Associate Principle Scientist Fritiof was active in drug projects ranging from early Lead Discovery to late stage Lead Optimization. He introduced multi parallell synthesis in combination with a scaffold hopping within a antiarrythmia lead optimization project. This resulted in the invention of AZD7009 and AZD1305, the first two fully non-proarrythmic oral drugs that went into man.

Dr. Fritiof Pontén has a solid experience of drug development gathered during 17 years at AstraZeneca. He has been active in a wide range of drug project activities ranging from all discovery phases to late stage preclinical studies enabling First Time in Man. Besides his work in drug projects Fritiof has been active within organizational and technical development. He has built up and headed a facility and organisation for scale up of drug candidates from mg to kg during the last 10 years. Fritiof has grown his team from scratch and introduced novel capabilities such as continuous processing, bio-catalysis and asymmetric catalysis in the daily deliveries.

In his role as Senior Scientist and later Associate Principle Scientist Fritiof was active in drug projects ranging from early Lead Discovery to late stage Lead Optimization. He introduced multi parallell synthesis in combination with a scaffold hopping within a antiarrythmia lead optimization project. This resulted in the invention of AZD7009 and AZD1305, the first two fully non-proarrythmic oral drugs that went into man.

Fritiof has a PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from Lund University, 1997, and has developed his skills further through courses and training programs within the fields of Leadership & Self Assessment, Synthetic-, Medicinal- & Combinatorial- Chemistry, IP, Lean Six Sigma, Process Development including GLP&GMP and Project Leadership.

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Scott Hultgren is the Helen Lehbrink Stoever Professor of Molecular Microbiology at Washington University in St. Louis where he also serves as the inaugural Director of the Center for Women’s Infectious Disease Research. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2011. He received his undergraduate education at Indiana University, his Ph.D. at Northwestern University in Chicago, and his postdoctoral training at Umeå University in Sweden under the tutelage of Staffan Normark.He is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and has been honored with a Distinguished Investigator Award at Washington University. He received the Eli Lilly award (1998), the preeminent Microbiology award granted for individuals younger than 40. In 2012 he was received “The Fellows Award” that recognizes a distinguished individual for outstanding achievement in science by the St. Louis Science Academy.  He was the Co-Chair of National Conference sponsored by ORWH/NIH and Washington University, “Moving into the Future:  New Dimensions and Strategies for Women’s Health Research.”  Other honors include a Nobel Fellowship; an NIH Merit grant; an honorary Doctor of Philosophy at Umeå University in Sweden, a Shipley Lecturership at Harvard University and Chairmanship of a Gordon Conference on Microbial Attachment. Further, he has been recognized as Course Master of the Year and Academic Women’s Network Mentor of the Year in honor of his dedication to teaching. Dr. Hultgren has mentored more than 50 individuals as pre- or post-doctoral trainees; fostering their success in establishing their own professional careers.

Scott Hultgren is the Helen Lehbrink Stoever Professor of Molecular Microbiology at Washington University in St. Louis where he also serves as the inaugural Director of the Center for Women’s Infectious Disease Research. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2011. He received his undergraduate education at Indiana University, his Ph.D. at Northwestern University in Chicago, and his postdoctoral training at Umeå University in Sweden under the tutelage of Staffan Normark.He is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and has been honored with a Distinguished Investigator Award at Washington University. He received the Eli Lilly award (1998), the preeminent Microbiology award granted for individuals younger than 40. In 2012 he was received “The Fellows Award” that recognizes a distinguished individual for outstanding achievement in science by the St. Louis Science Academy.  He was the Co-Chair of National Conference sponsored by ORWH/NIH and Washington University, “Moving into the Future:  New Dimensions and Strategies for Women’s Health Research.”  Other honors include a Nobel Fellowship; an NIH Merit grant; an honorary Doctor of Philosophy at Umeå University in Sweden, a Shipley Lecturership at Harvard University and Chairmanship of a Gordon Conference on Microbial Attachment. Further, he has been recognized as Course Master of the Year and Academic Women’s Network Mentor of the Year in honor of his dedication to teaching. Dr. Hultgren has mentored more than 50 individuals as pre- or post-doctoral trainees; fostering their success in establishing their own professional careers.

Our studies blend multiple scientific disciplines elucidating bacterial and host mechanisms that determine the onset, course and outcome of interactions between a host mucosal surface and bacterial pathogens. Using genetics, genomics, biochemistry, structural biology, high-resolution imaging, animal models, clinical studies and combinatorial chemistry, we have illuminated how bacterial intracellular lifestyles and community behaviors play critical roles in urinary tract infection (UTI). We uncovered principles of adhesive pili biogenesis in Gram-negative bacteria of the chaperone/usher pathway; delineating molecular details of donor strand complementation and exchange mechanisms by which subunit folding is coupled with translocation and assembly of pili across the outer membrane. We delineated how uropathogenic E. coli use type 1 pili to invade and establish biofilm-like intracellular bacterial communities within bladder cells subverting extracellular host defenses and how quiescent intracellular reservoirs can seed recurrent infection.  We identified complex networks governing mucosal epithelial responses that determine disease outcome.  Further, we elucidated a mechanism by which bacteria form a directed biofilm-associated amyloid fiber called curli. Finally, our work has also revealed fundamental insights into catheter-associated urinary tract infections caused by Enterococcus and E. coli. Together, our work is changing the way UTIs are evaluated, re-shaping models of bacterial infections in general and spawning new technologies to design novel vaccines and anti-microbial therapeutics to diagnose, treat and/or prevent UTIs and their sequelae

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Dr. Sven Bergström is Professor in Microbiology at Umeå University, Sweden and former chair of the department of molecular biology. He is also one of the founders of the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS) within the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine and Umeå Center for Microbial Research (UCMR). Important milestones of the research are:

  • Cloning, sequencing, expression and characterization of OspA and its use as vaccine against Lyme borreliosis. Still, a canine vaccine is available in the USA.
  • The role of birds in the ecology and epidemiology of borreliosis and reactivation of infection due to migratory stress.
  • Aggregation of erythrocytes by relapsing fever Borrelia and its impact on microcirculation.
  • Outer membrane architecture and occurrence of channel-forming proteins including the TolC homolog BesC, dicarboxylate specific pore DipA, the integrin binding porin P66 and P13.
  • Invasion of RF Borrelia in immune privileged sites and reactivation of infection.
  • Identification of the binding of RF Borrelia to Neolacto Glycans and its effect on rosetting of Human Erythrocytes.
  • The importance of concomitant RF Borrelia and Malaria infection in sub Saharan Africa.
Dr. Sven Bergström is Professor in Microbiology at Umeå University, Sweden and former chair of the department of molecular biology. He is also one of the founders of the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS) within the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine and Umeå Center for Microbial Research (UCMR). Important milestones of the research are:

  • Cloning, sequencing, expression and characterization of OspA and its use as vaccine against Lyme borreliosis. Still, a canine vaccine is available in the USA.
  • The role of birds in the ecology and epidemiology of borreliosis and reactivation of infection due to migratory stress.
  • Aggregation of erythrocytes by relapsing fever Borrelia and its impact on microcirculation.
  • Outer membrane architecture and occurrence of channel-forming proteins including the TolC homolog BesC, dicarboxylate specific pore DipA, the integrin binding porin P66 and P13.
  • Invasion of RF Borrelia in immune privileged sites and reactivation of infection.
  • Identification of the binding of RF Borrelia to Neolacto Glycans and its effect on rosetting of Human Erythrocytes.
  • The importance of concomitant RF Borrelia anMalaria infection in sub Saharan Africa.

The overall aim of this project is to gain an increased knowledge of the virulence properties of Borrelia spirochetes to improve diagnostic tools and treatment of this zoonotic pathogen.

Recently the research group of Sven Bergström has initiated a project to investigate and understand the virulence properties of Chlamydia spp. This project, using small organic molecules, aims to develop novel strategies for treatment of Chlamydial infections by inhibition of targets essential for pathogenesis. Recent results from our team show that some of these compounds strongly interfere with the ability of Chlamydia spp to acquire and store energy thereby reducing the ability to produce viable progeny. Thus, these compounds, and structural analogues thereof, display great potential for the development of new antibacterial agents, and will further aid in our understanding of key fundamental processes occurring during bacterial infection.

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Dr. Fredrik Almqvist is Professor in Organic Chemistry at UmeåUniversity, Sweden where he also is deputy head of the department of Chemistry and co-director of the Laboratories for Chemical Biology Umeå (LCBU). His research program focuses on method developments in organic synthesis and design and synthesis of molecules that interact with macromolecules, in particular inhibition of protein-protein interactions. Examples of the latter involve development of inhibitors of bacterial macromolecular assembly and amyloid formation. His lab has pioneered the design and synthesis of ring-fused 2-pyridone compounds as peptidomimetics. Almqvist lab together with collaborations (most intensively with the Hultgren lab at Washington University in St. Louis) showed that these mimetics are ideal for the development of antivirulence compounds and within this research program they have been the first to show proof of concept for the design and synthesis of small molecules, named pilicides, that can inhibit pilus assembly in uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC). In addition, based upon the same type of mimetics but with different substitution pattern, they were the first to show a proof of concept for the design and synthesis of compounds, named curlicides, that can inhibit curli formation in UPEC. Dr. Almqvist has been awarded the prestigious Göran Gustafsson Award by the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences

Dr. Christina Stallings is an Assistant Professor of Molecular Microbiology at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research program focuses on molecular pathogenesis of mycobacteria, with a particular interest in identifying, characterizing, and targeting pathways required by the bacteria to persist in the patient. She has identified a number of factors involved in mycobacterial stress responses and persistence and has been awarded multiple NIH grants to fund work in these areas. She has recently expanded her investigations to novel models of persistence to identify new players in pathogenesis by embarking into studies of mycobacterial biofilms. She continues to investigate how the virulence mechanisms in pathogenic bacteria can be inhibited in new chemotherapeutic strategies to treat mycobacterial infections. In addition, she is also exploring the host responses necessary to control mycobacterial infections. For her innovative work in these areas, Dr. Stallings has been awarded a prestigious Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation Young Investigator Award, which provides research support to the most promising young faculty members in the early stages of their academic careers, as well as an American Lung Association Young Investigator Award, under which she was designated a TB Scholar.

Lab website: http://stallingslab.wustl.edu/

Jörgen Johansson is Professor in Molecular Microbiology at the Department of Molecular Biology and Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS) at Umeå University. The Johansson group uses the Gram-positive bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes as a model system to study RNA-biology, stress-regulation and to identify novel antivirulence compounds. The group has identified and characterized several aspects of RNA regulation resulting in high impact publications (Cell, Nature, PNAS). The group recently described a blue-light receptor that Listeria uses to sense light and adjust its stress-response. Together with Prof. Almqvist, the Johansson group has identified several 2-pyridone compounds able to block Listeria virulence gene expression by binding the main transcriptional regulator.

In 2010, Prof. Johansson received the prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant.

M.S. Jerome Pinkner has been Lab Manager at the Hultgren labs for 25 years. He is Director of the Protein Purification Facility and has a long experience of running industrial collaborations and technology transfer processes. He is a well recognized Pilicide, Curlicide, Mannoside program specialist.

Dr. Matthew Chapman is Associate Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and Associate Chair of Undergraduate Curriculum at University of Michigan. He is a specialist within protein mis-folding and amyloid formation.