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ARCUS – Asthma and Allergy Research Centre in Uppsala

The ARCUS network was initiated a few years ago with the aim to increase collaboration between preclinical and clinical scientists in the field of respiratory and allergy research in Uppsala. It was also intended to give young researchers an opportunity to present and discuss their data.

Sara Wernersson, senior lecturer at SLU, is part of the ARCUS steering group. She thinks that the way they have organised the network works very well. Besides regular meetings in the steering group there have been two meetings each year for the whole ARCUS network.

“We usually start off the network meetings with some food and mingle before presentations by members of the network or sometimes invited speakers,” she says. “After the presentations, we meet in smaller mixed groups of preclinical and clinical scientists to discuss specific topics. Next, ideas from the group discussions are presented for the whole group, to summarise what we’ve learned or to continue the discussion of how to develop the network.

One explanation to why the network is well-functioning is the rotation of organising the meetings between the participants, which increases the involvement of network members. Not only PIs but also PhD students and post docs have been responsible for organising meetings.

“In addition, the relaxed and friendly atmosphere at the meetings is also important,” Sara says. “By now we know each other well and can have good, prestigeless discussions.”

One of the initial intentions of the network was to apply for funding for joint research projects. Recently, one such project, with ARCUS steering board members as PI:s, was funded by Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. The project focuses on the role of mast cell proteases in asthma.

“In this project we have also decided that the PI:s and involved members of our research teams should meet regularly. At our recent first meeting the groups presented their parts of the project and we discussed potential new collaborations. It was a good meeting and I look forward to the next one where we will present our first results.”

Mast cells from rat
Mast cells are involved in asthma
and allergic reactions. The photo
shows mouse mast cells.
Photo: Sara Wernersson's group

“We usually start the network meetings with some food and mingle before presentations by members of the network or sometimes invited speakers,” she says. “After the presentations, we meet in smaller groups that should include both preclinical and clinical scientists to discuss topics specified by the meeting organisers. Ideas from the discussions are then presented for the whole group, to summarise what we’ve learned or how to move on in the network, depending on the discussed topic.”

One explanation for the well-functioning network is that the task of organising the meetings rotates between the participants, and PhD students and post docs have also been responsible for some meetings, which increases the involvement of the network members.

“In addition, the relaxed and friendly atmosphere at the meetings is also important,” Sara says. “By now we
know each other well and can have good, prestige less discussions.

One of the initial intentions of the network was to apply for funding for joint research projects. Recently, one such project, with ARCUS steering board members as PI:s, was funded by Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. The project focuses on the role of mast cell proteases in asthma.

“In this project we have also decided that the PI:s and involved members of our research teams should meet regularly. At our recent first meeting the groups presented their parts of the project and we discussed potential new collaborations. It was a good meeting and I look forward to the next one where we will present our first results.”


ARCUS steering group:
Gunnar Pejler (UU, SLU), Kjell Alving (UU), Jenny Hallgren (UU), Lars Hellman (UU), Christer Janson (UU), Andrei Malinovschi (UU), Mohammad Alimohammadi (UU), Sara Wernersson (SLU)