The workshop took place at the Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre and was attended by more than 70 representatives of Nordic research financing organisations, policymakers, and networks on personalised medicine, attended the event.    

The workshop’s aim was to discuss the potential of Nordic research cooperation targeting personalised medicine, including e.g. networking, academy-industry cooperation and joint research funding opportunities.   

The day included presentation of lessons learned from Nordic clinical research and research infrastructure projects and a visionary outlook on how the Nordic region can become a hotspot for sharing and linking sensitive research data.  

Professor and Director of the Centre for Personalised Medicine at Linköping University, Mikael Benson, was the first speaker. His talk was entitled “Personalised medicine may radically improve health care within the next decade.”   

According to Dr Benson, personalised medicine can lead to major improvement of health care; however, we need to get rid of the two most important bottlenecks: concept studies need to be made more cost-effective to implement, and costs of technology must be reduced.

After Dr Benson there were several speakers who gave brief reports on existing personalised medicine initiatives in the Nordic countries. Among them were Torben Falck Ørntoft (Denmark), Jarmo Wahlfors (Finland), Magnus Karl Magnusson (Iceland), Hege Wang and Kari Steig (Norway) and again, Mikael Benson (Sweden). See all presentations below.     

The last speaker before lunch was Irene Norstedt, head of the unit for Innovative and Personalised Medicine, DG Research and Innovation at the European Commission. She gave the audience an overview of existing European personalised medicine initiatives and concluded that Europe can spearhead the implementation of personalised medicine as a result of its existing favourable framework.    

After lunch, talks were given by Anders G. Lönnberg, the Swedish Life Science Coordinator; Janna Saarela, Research Director of FIMM; Professor Juni Palmgren, from Karolinska Institutet; and Professor Torben Falck Ørntoft from Aarhus University on Nordic added value and their view on future potential in personalised medicine.   

Their presentations were followed up by a panel discussion on the Nordic common strengths and the way forward. Here, the advantages of the Nordic countries and their potential for contributing to international research development as a result of high-quality biobanks and public-funded healthcare were underlined. Ethical and legal issues as bottlenecks for research collaboration between the Nordic countries were discussed.

 A possible focus on rare diseases and cancer was suggested, and the panel stressed the importance of communication between national governments and research councils, as well as between the different ministries. They also addressed the challenge of implementing new knowledge in the clinic. 

The discussion was moderated by Professor Jan-Ingvar Jönsson, Secretary General of Medicine and Health at the Swedish Research Council and Chair of NOS-M, who also summarised the workshop.   

The panel members were Mia Bengtström, Senior Adviser at Pharma Industry Finland; Magnus Karl Magnusson, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Iceland; Irene Norstedt; Troels Rasmussen, Special Adviser, Danish Agency for Science Technology and Innovation; Dag Erik Undlien, Professor, Department of Medical Genetics, Oslo University Hospital; and Anders G. Lönnberg.  

Before the participants left, they were requested to submit recommendations on the future path of personalised medicine in a Nordic context. Professor Jönsson added that the workshop will result in a written report – targeted primarily towards research councils, politicians and policymakers – presenting guidelines and recommendations on how to make the Nordic region a key player in the field of personalised medicine.  

See the complete programme here

Download the presentations from the speakers here: 

NOS-M presentation 

Denmark

Iceland

Finland

Sweden

Norway

Risk screening and personalized therapy in cancer and other diseases

Nordic Register and Biobank Data

Personalised medicine may radically improve health care within the next decade

Infrastructures for Personalised Medicine

Text: Tor Martin Nilsen/NordForsk