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Pioneering research wins postdoc award


A Malmö University researcher has been awarded a 50,000 SEK prize for her pioneering work which could, in the future, lead to improved diagnostics and pharmaceutical companies developing better drugs to tackle illnesses such as heart disease.


Selma Marić, a researcher at Biofilms – Research Center for Biointerfaces, was one of two scientists who won the junior category of the award, presented by The Camurus Lipid Research Foundation.

Much of her work has concentrated on lipids and her research has helped develop a new model that makes it possible to study ‘bad’ cholesterol — low-density lipoprotein — in greater detail. Marić has contributed with pioneering work on selective isotope labelling of natural lipids, enabling new knowledge on the structure and dynamics of lipid containing systems such as cellular membranes, membrane proteins and lipoproteins.

The methodology is particularly relevant in light of the current development of the European Spallation Source (ESS) in southern Sweden. One of ESS' goals is to increase the use of neutron-based methods in life science research and bring in new users. For that to be possible, development of selective deuterium labelling of important biological components such as lipids is key, and will lead to more complex scientific studies becoming available. 

This is the first year the prize has been awarded. 

“They are awarding people who have done something very specific with lipids. My first thought was to use the money to buy something for the lab — perhaps a new fermenter where I could grow a larger amount of cells and test a new hypothesis for deuteration control. But I am now thinking that I would also like to use it on the upcoming Gordon Conference which will deal specifically with role of lipoprotein in brain disease, a connection which seems to be supported by more and more evidence.

“I am very happy to receive the award and it's great that this type of research is being acknowledged. I think it should be known that this type of research is going on right now and that more people will be able to use the techniques we are developing. I would like to make this accessible to scientists in other fields.”

Marić received her PhD in biophysics in 2014 from the University of Copenhagen. Since then she has held a postdoctoral position at the Karolinska Institute before joining Malmö University. 

She is now applying for funding to develop a research platform to selectively deuterate other lipids, which can be found in areas such as the brain. The new method could open up a lot more studies into, and an understanding of, diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Text: Adrian Grist

Last updated by Carolin Lind