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IVA’s Gold Medal 2023: Anna Wedell - a door opener in precision medicine

Medic and research leader Anna Wedell has created completely new conditions for discovering and treating thousands of rare diseases. By developing new tools for mapping individual patients' genes and establishing unique collaborations between research and healthcare, she has made ground-breaking breakthroughs in individually tailored so-called precision medicine.

Photo by THAVIS 3D on Unsplash

Approximately one in two thousand children are born with metabolic diseases caused by hereditary disturbances in the body's metabolism, which can lead to severe damage to vital organs, including the brain. Being able to analyse individual patients' genes and use that information to detect that type of disease and modify individually tailored treatments - so-called precision medicine - has therefore been high on the healthcare wish list for a long time.

Through high-tech genetic detective work, Anna Wedell and her research team have found the molecular basis for several new such metabolic diseases and contributed to taking great steps towards making the visions a reality. More than 2,500 patients have been analysed so far, which has led to almost 1,000 receiving specific diagnoses and in many cases enabling individualized treatment that prevented the development of severe diseases or early death.

For fifteen years, Anna Wedell has been involved in developing bioinformatic tools and new integrated working methods that have made it possible to interpret the entire genetic mass of individual patients, and use the information to tailor treatments for hereditary diseases on an individual level. Anna Wedell has also been involved in building several unique cross-disciplinary collaborations that connect research and clinical practice in healthcare. Her leadership and work will directly benefit large groups of rare disease patients who can now receive individualized diagnoses and prompt treatment.

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"My role has been to bring everything together into a whole. I have tried to show that it is possible. It is very much about mentality and finding people who believe in this. Team players." 

Jury citation for IVA’s Gold Medal

Professor Anna Wedell is awarded IVA's Gold Medal for her efforts in developing bioinformatics tools and cross-disciplinary working methods that have resulted in precision medicine for rare hereditary diseases being used in various disease areas, which has led to the prevention of severe disease conditions or early death.

About Anna Wedell

Anna Wedell was born in 1962. She obtained her medical degree at Karolinska Institutet in 1988 and completed her doctorate at the same university in 1994. In 1997, Anna Wedell became associate professor and seven years later professor of medical genetics at the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery at Karolinska Institutet. In 2007, she became chief physician at the Centre for Inherited Metabolic Diseases at Karolinska University Hospital. In 2010, Anna Wedell participated in building the Science for Life Laboratory in Stockholm, a collaboration between researchers at Karolinska Institutet, KTH and Stockholm University where she was Clinical Director 2010-2013. Since 2011, she has been a member of the Nobel Committee for Physiology and Medicine, where she was chair between the years 2016-2018. Since 2021, she is director of the newly started Precision Medicine Center Karolinska.

Anna Wedell was named Forska!Sweden Scientist of the Year in 2019. She has been a Wallenberg Clinical Scholar since 2015, and a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA) and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) since 2016.

(Photo: Stefan Zimmerman, KI)

IVA's Gold Medal

For more than a century, IVA has celebrated excellence in technology, economics, business and society by awarding Gold Medals to people who, through their outstanding achievements, have helped to create a better society.

IVA's Gold Medal is awarded for meritorious work within the academy's field of activity.

More on IVA's Gold Medals
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