"How does light with different wavelength affect the growth of plants?" by Linnéa M. Skille, May Dagny Kollandsrud Hutchings, Tonje Marie Bjørklund Hopen and Elakhiya Dushyanthan won second place in both the Student’s Choice and the Jury’s Choice. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

Ullern students presented their own research

This article was originally published in Norwegian on the School Collaboration website.

Arranging a poster session may seem like an unusual way to end the school year, but for Ullern’s researcher students it is the perfect way to finish.

The first year of the Researcher Programme at Ullern Upper Secondary School was brought to an end by the students presenting their research projects to the four mentors, the principal, their teachers and co-students. A sunny, warm morning in June the Ullern schoolyard was transformed into a poster session, an activity that normally only takes place at science conferences.

The presentation of their research projects is the “grand final” of the school year for the students on the Researcher Programme, says Monica Flydal Jenstad and Ragni Fet, who are the two teachers in charge of the programme.

“The students have worked on their own experiments related to radiation and made real research posters. This has been a bit challenging, because of the corona pandemic and studying from home during a long period. They were supposed to present their research projects to the four mentors already in April, but this was of course not possible. It is really fun that we managed to do this at all,” says Ragni.

The teachers Ragni Fet and Monica Flydal Jenstad are responsible for the Researcher Programme. They were really impressed by the research projects the students presented during their first poster session. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

The teachers Ragni Fet and Monica Flydal Jenstad are responsible for the Researcher Programme. They were really impressed by the research projects the students presented during their first poster session. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

The four mentors that Ragni is referring to is Jónas Einarsson, CEO of Radforsk and founder of Oslo Cancer Cluster and Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park, Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen, consultant in Radforsk and former CEO of Ultimovacs, Simone Mester, cancer researcher at Oslo University Hospital and former student at Ullern Upper Secondary School, and Bjørn Klem, general manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator and former head of research in Photocure.

Bjørn Klem, general manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator and former head of research in Photocure, is studying the research posters in depth.

Bjørn Klem, general manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator and former head of research in Photocure, is studying the research posters in depth.

The mentors’ task is to advise the students during their studies and contribute with guidance, inspiration and experience. The mentors were more than pleased with what was presented to them:

“I tutored the students in February when they were designing the experiments and brainstorming. It was really fun to see the finished results in the poster format. I think everyone reflected well on their own results and it was fun to discuss with them. I am very impressed by the results!” said Simone Mester.

Jónas Einarsson agreed:

“I am impressed by the students’ work in spite of all the complications with the closed school. They explored interesting issues and executed the projects very well.”

Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen believes the students had a great advantage in their experienced teachers, who both have backgrounds in cancer research, when performing their own research projects:

“I think the students were especially good at formulating clear hypotheses. It is obvious they have understood the main reason for this type of research. They have great teachers and clear heads.”

A great success

A total of ten research projects were presented in poster format in the schoolyard. The principal, the science teachers, the mentors and the students walked among the posters, just like at a real science conference, read about the research and asked questions to the research talents.

The teacher Ragni Fet opens the poster session. To her left: the mentors Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen, Jónas Einarsson and Bjørn Klem. In front of her: the nervous students prepared to present. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen.

The teacher Ragni Fet opens the poster session. To her left: the mentors Øyvind Kongstun Arnesen, Jónas Einarsson and Bjørn Klem. In front of her: the nervous students prepared to present. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen.

“The poster session was a success! The students were brilliant. Both the mentors and teachers were impressed. The students’ task was to design and complete an experiment of their choosing related to the topic of radiation and to present the results of the experiment on a poster,” said Ragni Fet.

Two projects were awarded special prizes out of the ten research projects that were presented. The first prize was awarded by a jury consisting of the four mentors and the teachers. The second prize was awarded by the students themselves.

The winners

“Research into plants and microwaves” by Christofer Woxholt, David Venker and Jonathan Løvdal won the Jury’s Choice.

“Research into radiation of yeast” by Alexander Hustad, Alexander Marks and Martin Thormodsrud won Student’s Choice. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen. 

The runner-ups

“How does light with different wavelength affect the growth of plants?” by Linnéa M. Skille, May Dagny Kollandsrud Hutchings, Tonje Marie Bjørklund Hopen and Elakhiya Dushyanthan won second place in both the Student’s Choice and the Jury’s Choice. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

“Can you fry an egg with ultrasound?” by Sebastian Heuser and Victor Garman won a shared second place in the Student’s Choice category. Sebastian was unfortunately not present for the poster session. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen 

All research posters

“Water’s ability to slow gamma radiation” by Nikita Upadhyaya, Henrikke Thrane Steen Røkke and Lara Barazangy. Lara was not present when the picture was taken. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

“The effect of different amounts of radiation on yeast cells” by Jakub Michalowski, August André Lukkassen and Emil Gråbøl-Undersrud. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

“Radiation of e-coli” by Peder Hellesylt, Carl Thagaard, Fredrik Røren and Felix Gundersen. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

“The effect of different types of radioactive radiation on bacteria” by Isha Mohal and Nada Darwiche. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

“Does microwave radiation affect the growth of seeds?” by Anine Sundnes, Julia Beatrice Braaten and Tia Sauthon. Tia was not present when the photo was taken. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

“Radiation of plants” by Iselin Langås Sunde, Andrea Øfstaas, Henrik E. Corneliussen and Fredrik Hansteen. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

The mentors together with the winning group. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

The mentors together with the winning group. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

The mentors together with the group that got second place in Jury’s Choice and Student’s Choice. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen.

The mentors together with the group that got second place in Jury’s Choice and Student’s Choice. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen.

 

More about the Researcher Programme

The Researcher Programme (Forskerlinja) is a unique opportunity for motivated and talented aspiring researchers. The students receive a tailored three-year educational programme with a specialisation in the natural sciences. The academic year 2019/2020 is the first year that Ullern Upper Secondary School has run this programme, which offers a first insight into biomedical research, technology and innovation. Teachers and researchers give the students a taste of how world-class research is done. The students learn in completely new ways in the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park, which Ullern Upper Secondary School is a part of.

The students have through the years participated in the unique collaboration with Oslo Cancer Cluster, which offers them exciting work placements with researchers, companies and laboratories associated with the cluster and the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park. Because of the corona pandemic, the students have unfortunately missed out on many of the planned activities.

The students still have two years left of the programme and they will present two more research projects, but first, they will enjoy a well-deserved summer holiday.

Hva er viktigst, hytta eller helsen?

Ketil Widerberg, daglig leder, OCC

This opinion piece was originally published in Aftenposten on 25 June 2020. Scroll down for a version in English.

Deaktiver Smittestopp-appen med en gang – med god samvittighet, skriver Joacim Lund. Han bør heller ha dårlig samvittighet.

Smittestopp-appen samler inn bevegelsesmønstre for å spore spredningen av covid-19. Personvern står høyt, og derfor bør vi ta det alvorlig når Datatilsynet protesterer mot appens datalagring og datahåndtering. Ved stans av datainnsamling brukte kun 11 prosent av Norges befolkning den. Det er langt under de nødvendige 50 prosent for å få en reell sykdomsoversikt.

Dette står i kontrast til det at store deler av oss bruker Google Maps, som også samler inn lokasjonsdata, så vi finner køfri vei til hytta.

Hva er viktigst, hytta eller helsen? Kan vi kombinere godt personvern og tillit til myndighetene for å se effekten av og begrense tiltakene mot covid-19? Folkehelseinstituttet og Simula gjorde en fantastisk jobb med Smittestopp. Appen bør utvikles med bedre sikkerhet og anonymisering, men det å ønske Smittestopp død er feil. Å samle inn og dele data for vår felles helse er viktig, i umiddelbare kriser som covid-19 og mot samfunnsutfordringer som kreft.

Smittestopp er død. Lenge leve Smittestopp.


What is more important: your holiday cabin or your health?

Deactivate the app Smittestopp at once – with good conscience, Joacim Lund writes in Aftenposten. This should rather give him a bad conscience.

The app Smittestopp collects people’s movement patterns to track the spread of covid-19. Privacy is important, and that is why we should take it seriously when The Norwegian Data Protection Authority (DPA) protests against the app’s storage and handling of data. Only 11 percent of Norway’s population used the app, when the data collection was stopped. That is far from the necessary 50 percent to get a real overview of the spread of the disease.

This is in contrast to the fact that many of us use Google Maps, which is also collecting location data, so that we can find the quickest way to our holiday cabins.

What is more important, the holiday cabin or our health? Can we combine good privacy and trust in government to see the effect of and limit the measures against covid-19? The Norwegian Institute of Public Health and Simula did a fantastic job with Smittestopp. The app should be developed with better security and anonymization, but to wish Smittestopp dead is wrong. To gather and share data for our common health is important, in immediate crises like covid-19 and against societal challenges like cancer.

Smittestopp is dead. Long live Smittestopp.

Parts of the GLIMT team together with Arif and Unge Ferrari at Rikshospitalet. Photo: GLIMT UB

Helping teens in the hospital

GLIMT UB, Arif and Unge Ferrari at Rikshospitalet, Oslo.

This article was originally written in Norwegian and published on our School Collaboration website.

Ullern students helped teenagers in the hospital while learning how to become entrepreneurs.

GLIMT UB, a youth company at Ullern Upper Secondary School, wants to give chronically ill teenagers the activities they need while they are in hospital. The pizza night with the famous Norwegian rappers Arif and Unge Ferrari was a big success, but then the corona pandemic put a temporary stop to the newly started company.

“GLIMT offers teens in hospital different activities, which are planned and carried out by other teens. We offer an arrangement for the hospitals, which is better adapted and more resource-efficient.”

Teenagers who stay in the hospital for long periods of time are often isolated and have few other fulfilling activities in their everyday lives. GLIMT UB decided to do something about this and thought of the idea to arrange pizza nights at the hospital, inviting famous people as guests for the young patients.

The concept was a success and the pizza night with Arif and Unge Ferrari at Rikshospitalet in January 2020 attracted five times as many young patients as other activities. Arif and Unge Ferrari hung out with the teens who are staying in the hospital because of different illnesses. The night was spent eating pizza, playing cards and beading.

“The mother of one of the patients said that we need to come back and arrange this more times. She insisted that this was an important optional activity because it was planned by teens for teens,” said Tyra Kristoffersen.

Tyra has worked in GLIMT UB, together with the other Ullern students Andreas Bjurstrøm, Carl Ruge, Miriam Idsøe and Alexander Floskjer, during the last school year.

Young patients are isolated

“During the age when you have the greatest need to be social and gain new experiences, one group is getting left out of the traditional social framework. Across Norway, there are children and young adults staying in hospitals and, in spite of both internal and external measures, many end up being isolated from the rest of society. The age group 13 to 19 is a very challenging group to reach and they lack adequate activities. To improve the health service in Norway, we need better adapted activities for this age group.”

This quote is from GLIMT UB’s business plan, which awarded the company first place in the category Best Business Plan in the Oslo Championship for Young Entrepreneurs.

The team behind the youth company GLIMT UB gathered at Ullern Upper Secondary School. Photo: GLIMT UB’s Facebook page

The team behind the youth company GLIMT UB gathered at Ullern Upper Secondary School. Photo: GLIMT UB’s Facebook page

The concept of GLIMT is based on young, famous people’s motivation to help young people in a challenging situation, without getting paid for their time.

“If we had paid the celebrities to come, this wouldn’t have worked because the hospitals have such a limited budget. The famous people still benefit from positive mentions in social media and can use the activity to promote themselves if they wish,” Tyra said.

Before the corona pandemic, GLIMT UB had planned several pizza nights at Rikshospitalet, since the first one was such a success.

“We have been in touch with several celebrities, such as Herman Flesvig, Ulrikke Falck and Tix, who were all very positive to participate. Unfortunately, the corona pandemic forced visitation restrictions in place at hospitals in Norway, so we couldn’t arrange more pizza nights than the one with Arif and Unge Ferrari,” Tyra said.

The students behind GLIMT UB still think they have learned a lot.

A valuable mentor

Entrepreneurship is one of many subjects that the students at Ullern Upper Secondary School can choose in their second or third year. The students learn how to start a company and the theory behind what makes some businesses succeed and why other businesses fail.

The students also need to establish and run their own youth company during the course.

The team behind GLIMT UB considered an idea about redesign, but scrapped it when they realised that this was a concept that many youth companies were interested in.

“We started thinking about what is close to our school and of course the hospital is right next door. We discussed with our entrepreneurship teacher Karin if we could think of something in relation to that. We quickly found out that teens in the hospital don’t have many activities. The younger kids get visits from hospital clowns and their own playroom,” Tyra said.

At the Norwegian Radium Hospital, there are however not many young adults admitted. Most teenage patients are at Rikshospitalet and Ullevål.

“Through our mentor Bente, we got in touch with the activity leader for teenagers at Rikshospitalet and Ullevål. He liked our idea a lot, and other people were also positive, so we just had to keep working,” Tyra said.

Mentor Bente Prestegård and the students Andreas Bjurstrøm, Carl Ruge, Tyra Kristoffersen and Miriam Idsøe, standing outside Ullern Upper Secondary School. Alexander Flåskjer is also a part of the GLIMT team, but was unfortunately not present on the day the image was taken. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

Mentor Bente Prestegård and the students Andreas Bjurstrøm, Carl Ruge, Tyra Kristoffersen and Miriam Idsøe, standing outside Ullern Upper Secondary School. Alexander Flåskjer is also a part of the GLIMT team, but was unfortunately not present on the day the image was taken. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

Bente, that Tyra mentioned, is Bente Prestegård. She is a project manager in Oslo Cancer Cluster and one of her many projects is the school collaboration between Ullern Upper Secondary School and Oslo Cancer Cluster.

“I have had a few meetings with the students behind GLIMT. I have specially advised them about how to relate to patients and staff in the hospital, and I helped them with pitch training in advance of the Oslo Championship in Young Entrepreneurship,” said Prestegård.

Prestegård thinks that it is a lot of fun to be a mentor for GLIMT and she is impressed about how driven the students have been and how much they have accomplished, even though the corona pandemic but a sudden stop to the company’s activities in March.

The students also learned a lot from Bente’s advice and are grateful for all the coaching they have received while running the company.

“Bente introduced us to several key people at Oslo University Hospital, which was very valuable for us. She is also very knowledgeable about the economy and has given us a lot of good input on that aspect too,” Tyra said.

Learning in practice

It is June now and homeschooling is fortunately over, but there are still strict visitation rules at Norwegian hospitals because of the pandemic. GLIMT UB is dissolved since the school year is over and the students have gained a sense of what it is like to be a founder.

“It has been fun and educational. We would, of course, had wanted to do more for these teens, but hopefully, the hospitals across the country can be inspired by our idea,” said Carl, the company’s interim manager.

One thing that has been challenging for GLIMT is to find a way to make money out of the idea since the hospitals have limited resources.

“We still had NOK 7 000 left in our budget this year, which we have donated to Oslo University Hospital,” said Tyra.

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Welcome Note by the Organising Partners from Europe and North America opening the 9th International Cancer Cluster Showcase

International Cancer Cluster Showcase 2020

The 9th International Cancer Cluster Showcase has been launched on June 8th as a virtual event presenting 20 early-stage oncology companies.

For the first time, the annual International Cancer Cluster Showcase (ICCS) is presented in a digital format. Although we are missing the lively networking elements this year, there is a clear advantage: participants from around the globe can view the full program or selected presentations whenever suitable until July 8th – independent of time-zones and location. The record-high participation with about 400 registrations confirms that this flexible format offers an interesting opportunity to meet new companies in times when travelling is limited.

The organising partners from North America and Europe have jointly selected 20 emerging oncology companies from 8 countries advancing novel therapeutic, diagnostic and digital solutions. The CEOs of this outstanding group of early-stage companies present their latest innovations and partnering opportunities in four thematic sessions.

“We hope that this 9th International Cancer Cluster Showcase again creates novel collaboration opportunities and contacts for presenters and participants and stimulates relevant discussions.”

Jutta Heix, Head of International Affairs, Oslo Cancer Cluster.

A joint welcome from the organising partners opens the first session with the theme Targeting novel mechanisms. Our member EXACT Therapeutics is one of the companies selected for this session. CEO Rafiq Hasan introduces the company’s unique Acoustic Cluster Therapy for ultrasound-mediated, targeted therapeutic enhancement.

“It was important for EXACT Therapeutics to participate at ICCS as this is one of the leading opportunities for us to communicate progress with our innovative Acoustic Cluster Therapy (ACT) platform in oncology to key stakeholders and potential partners.

“We are impressed by the virtual format and the agility with which the in-person meeting was transformed to a digital platform. This ensures that the objectives of the meetings are achieved despite the challenges of the current situation.”

Rafiq Hasan, CEO, EXACT Therapeutics

CEO Rafiq Hasan, EXACT Therapeutics

Rafiq Hasan, CEO of EXACT therapeutics, is one of the presenters at ICCS 2020.

The theme of the second session is Immuno-Oncology and Cell therapy. Here the Oslo Cancer Cluster member Nextera introduces their NextCore technology and relevant applications in oncology.

“It was important for Nextera to present our unique drug and target discovery platform at the stage we are now, since we believe we can enable immuno-oncology therapies to new levels both from efficacy and safety points of view.

“The digital format fosters a great flexibility as well as the message reaches a larger audience.”

Ole Henrik Brekke, Chief Business Officer, Nextera

Geir Åge Løset, CEO of Nextera, presented at ICCS 2020.

Geir Åge Løset, CEO of Nextera, is one of the presenters at ICCS 2020.

The third session has the theme Immuno-Oncology, oncolytic viruses and vaccines, featuring companies from the US, UK and France showcasing their technologies and lead candidates.

As final Nordic company, our member Kaiku Health presents their platform for personalized digital health interventions in the fourth session titled Diagnostics and digital health interventions.

“ICCS is a good platform to reach like-minded innovators in oncology interested in making cancer care more personalised. We were happy to have the opportunity to go virtual during these exceptional times.”

Lauri Sippola, CEO and Co-Founder, Kaiku Health

Lauri Sippola, CEO of Kaiku Health, is one of the presenters at ICCS 2020.

Lauri Sippola, CEO of Kaiku Health, is one of the presenters at ICCS 2020.

The Virtual International Cancer Cluster Showcase is available online, via the official ICCS website, until 8 July 2020.

Details of all the presenters can be found in the ICCS 2020 event guide.

We kindly thank the sponsors and partners BIO, DNB, Precision for Medicine and Takeda for their ongoing support and program contribution.

 

Organising partners:

Sponsors:

From left to right: Baldur Sveinbjørnsson (Lytix Biopharma), Daniel Heinrich (AHUS), Hege Edvardsen (LMI) and Ketil Widerberg (Oslo Cancer Cluster) discussed how clinical trials can become an integrated part of cancer treatment in Norway.

Integrating clinical trials in cancer treatment

Fremtidens Kreftbehandling: Kreft og kliniske studier. Et veikart for bedre kreftbehandling.

How can we make clinical trials an integrated part of cancer treatment in Norway so that more patients can gain access to new and better treatments?

We arranged a webinar with key experts and politicians to answer this question. Watch the entire webinar on Youtube:

“The number of patients that get considered to participate in clinical studies in Norway is too low and it is difficult to arrange clinical studies across borders in the Nordics. This is unacceptable, but how can we change it?” This is how the moderator Ketil Widerberg, general manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster, set the scene for our first webinar, which was live-streamed from Kreftforeningens Vitensenter in Oslo.

A visionary plan

The Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services has said that clinical studies should be an integrated part of patient treatment in Norway. This is especially relevant when it comes to the advent of new cancer treatments and the fact that the number of clinical trials is decreasing in Norway. The Ministry is now working on a Clinical Studies Action Plan to be completed in 2020.

Maiken Engelstad, Deputy Director General of The Department of Specialist Health Care Services, gave a presentation on its contents so far. An overarching goal is to get more, useful clinical studies to Norway, so that more patients can receive better treatments, and ultimately achieve a more efficient health service.

Engelstad mentioned many important aspects to achieve this. For example, to create more collaborations between the industry and public sector, with NorCRIN as a “one-stop-shop” for clinical studies. Engelstad stressed that Norway needs to build capacity, so that feasibility, recruitment and approval is accelerated. Engelstad also talked about building competency, by including clinical research, gene therapy and artificial intelligence in education. Moreover, Engelstad wants to increase the multitude of different studies, catering to both big and small patient groups, vulnerable patients, assessing both new and established treatments, and conducting the trials both locally, nationally and internationally. 

“We need to look to Norway’s advantages, such as real world data, which can be used from designing the drugs to implementing new therapies in the clinic.” Maiken Engelstad

Engelstad said that there needs to be a national and regional framework in place to achieve this, with regulations, financing, infrastructure and competency. Engelstad finally highlighted that one of the biggest challenges is to achieve a cultural change towards conducting clinical trials in Norway.

The tangle of rules

The legal framework that regulates clinical studies in the Nordics is very difficult to navigate for patients who wish to participate in and for companies that wish to arrange clinical trials. Wenche Reed, Head of Research in The Section for Research, Innovation and Education at Oslo University Hospital, talked about how complicated it is to interpret the regulations. 

“There are many laws to consider when conducting clinical studies. It is not easy to navigate the legal landscape – not even for lawyers!” Wenche Reed

Reed explained that the advent of personalized medicine in cancer is challenging the division between patient treatment and clinical research. Moreover, the ethical and legal framework for handling big data is being challenged, because of new developments using artificial intelligence in diagnostics.

Tearing down the barriers

The introductory presentations were followed by a lively panel discussion, divided into three sections. The first section included a video message from Tone Skår, project manager in VIS Innovation and founder of the MED.hjelper project and #SpørOmKliniskeStudier social media movement. Skår emphasised the importance of informing patients of the possibility of participating in trials and creating incentives for doctors and hospitals to run the trials.

Sigrid Bratlie, Special Adviser in The Norwegian Cancer Society, commented that a cultural change is needed. Bratlie said we need to look at concrete cases to learn how to conduct successful clinical studies in cancer personalised medicine.

Bratlie highlighted that Norway has world-class cancer research milieus, especially in cell therapy, but the total number of clinical trials is dwindling. Europe risks falling far behind the US and China, because of the complicated legal framework.

“The Biotechnology Act is just one small piece of the puzzle. Soon there will be a hearing for the Genetechnology Act. We need to look at the bigger picture and how the different laws interact.” Sigrid Bratlie

The second part of the panel conversation turned to both clinicians and industry for their perspectives. Daniel Heinrich, Senior Consultant Oncologist at Akershus University Hospital and Head of The Norwegian Oncology Association, wants to offer his patients the opportunity to try new treatments, which potentially can be better than the standard treatment. Heinrich highlighted that it is difficult for patients that need to travel to different hospitals and private clinics for testing because the hospitals lack capacity. He said that the directives need to come from above, from hospital management, the Directorate of Health and the politicians.

“It is almost impossible to include patients in studies in other countries now. Often it is difficult to understand why!” Daniel Heinrich

Baldur Sveinbjørnsson, Chief Scientific Officer in Norwegian cancer start-up Lytix Biopharma, has tried to arrange a clinical trial in Norway, but found that it was better to conduct it from a hospital in Copenhagen. When patient recruitment was too slow and costs were mounting every day, Sveinbjørnsson travelled around the Nordics to attract patients. There was great interest, but the differing regulations and processes in the Nordic countries put a stop to recruitment.

“We have started looking towards the US and filed an application to the authorities to conduct our next clinical study there.” Baldur Sveinbjørnsson

Hege Edvardsen, senior adviser in Legemiddelindustrien (LMI), thinks Norwegian companies should be able to conduct their trials in Norway. Edvardsen said we need to establish a “one-stop-shop” for clinical studies in Norway. Edvardsen said that the pharmaceutical industry often turns to the most successful cancer centres and hospitals when placing their clinical trials.

“Dedicated enthusiasts are the ones running the clinical studies, but we need targeted financing, so the people doing the work are acknowledged.” Hege Edvardsen

The final part of the panel discussion included two politicians’ visionary perspectives for the future.

Marianne Synnes Emblemsvåg, politician for The Conservative Party of Norway – Høyre, said she was touched by the ambitious plans in the Action Plan. Emblemsvåg commented that she is an impatient person, but that the bureaucratic process takes time to change.

“We need to market Norway in a way that makes us attractive for clinical trials.” Marianne Synnes Emblemsvåg

Emblemsvåg commented that there are many exciting developments considering artificial intelligence and diagnosing cancer, but that they come with some very challenging ethical considerations.

Tuva Moflag, politician for The Labour Party of Norway – Arbeiderpartiet, agreed that things take time to change. Moflag emphasised that part of the political work is to “clean up” some of the bureaucratic mess and to remove the legal barriers.

“We should have high ambitions for clinical studies, considering that we are a rich country and should assume responsibility for our patients.” Tuva Moflag

Moflag also stressed that there needs to be infrastructure, personnel and financing to complete it. Creating a culture of innovation, so that medical personnel feel they are part of something bigger than themselves.

The webinar ended with some final comments from Engelstad, who had been listening and taking diligent notes to bring with her in her work with the Action Plan going forward.

We want to direct a special thank you to all the meeting participants, to the organising partners and to everyone who followed the live stream.

Our next meeting in this series will take place this fall. More details will be published on our website closer to the event.

 

Event organisers:

 

 

 

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Photo credit: Aline Ponce from Pixabay

May 17th Virtual Greeting

Pavlova, Photo by Alice Ponce from Pixabay.

”Gratulerer med dagen” (Congratulations!) on Norway’s Constitution Day from the entire Oslo Cancer Cluster team.

As a prelude to the May 17th celebrations, Oslo Cancer Cluster hosts an annual networking breakfast for our cluster’s members, neighbours in Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park and the wider oncology community.

The Norwegian Constitution Day Breakfast 2020 has been adapted in the form of this virtual greeting as we observe social distancing together.

The team at Oslo Cancer Cluster and Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator would like to wish Norwegians everywhere “Gratulerer med dagen!” with best wishes on this special day for Norway.

Oslo Cancer Cluster members in Norway and around the world, thank you for your support toward collective efforts to positively impact oncology research.

 

This is what it looked like when Tia (to the left) and Henrik (to the right) received homeschooling via digital classes from their teacher Monica Flydal Jenstad (bottom right corner) during corona lockdown.

Homeschooling for researchers-to-be

Henrik and Tia receive homeschooling during the corona lockdown.

This article was originally published in Norwegian on our School Collaboration website.

Even during the corona lockdown, the researcher students have received inspiring classes online, but they miss the practical work and are happy to soon return to school.

The researcher programme is an opportunity for upper secondary students who want to specialise in the natural sciences and the teaching is based on a combination of practical work and in-depth theory. So, how has home schooling been during corona lockdown? Digital classes in biology have replaced the usual work placements in professional research laboratories and performing experiments in school. We talked to the students Tia and Henrik, and their teacher Monica, to find out more.

CORONA UPDATE

This article was written before the Norwegian government released the positive news that students will return to school during week 20.

Since Ullern Upper Secondary School houses almost 1 000 students, they will return gradually to control the spread of COVID-19. The Researcher Programme starts on Wednesday 13 May and the class will be off to a flying start.

“The students will receive a lecture from an astrophysicist on their first day back. It was supposed to be delivered digitally, but now it might take place in the classroom, which will be extra special!” says Monica.

Both Monica and the students are looking forward to returning to the school. Henrik and Tia were hoping to begin school again during May and now they are getting their wish fulfilled.

“I think home schooling works. It is effective. The teachers have made great arrangements and we are learning new things,” says Henrik Corneliussen, who is in his first year of the Researcher Programme.

“I think it is going surprisingly well in many subjects, but it is difficult to stay motivated and focused on the teaching when we are doing so much on our own. Math is a bit more difficult now and biology is also challenging,” says Tia Morigaki Sauthon, who is in the same class as Henrik.

Monica Flydal Jenstad and Ragni Fet are Natural Science teachers and have both been cancer researchers. They are responsible for the new Researcher Programme at Ullern Upper Secondary School and teach biology and natural science to the class of 32 students for 10 hours every week.

Almost overnight, the teachers had to change their planned classes, because of the corona pandemic. They went from being physically present in the classroom – with all the available lab equipment and the possibility to perform experiments to exemplify different theories – to communicating with the whole class over the video-calling system Teams and teaching the students by using PowerPoint presentations and group tasks.

“Ullern Upper Secondary School is following the normal curriculum during homeschooling. When class begins, everyone checks into our Teams chatroom and says hi. Ragni or I deliver the teaching, usually through a lecture, and then the students complete tasks in a program called ‘OneNote’. We can see if the students are completing the tasks and help them if they are stuck or wondering about something,” Monica says.

Monica explains that life as a teacher has become more hectic and intense during corona lockdown, delivering classes in a digital format and being more available via messaging and calls over Teams.

Missing the practical aspects

Even though Henrik and Tia are generally happy with the digital classes, there are a few things they miss during homeschooling.

“I really miss the practical schoolwork, which we can barely do at all, because we lack access to equipment that we need to perform experiments at home. We have also missed out on many placements, which is a shame. I have luckily already participated in one placement, but it is sad for the students who haven’t had the opportunity,” Henrik says.

The Ullern students visited the Core Facility for Advanced Light Microscopy at Oslo University Hospital.

Image caption: Henrik, second person from the left, is one of the lucky students on the Researcher Programme, who has already participated in a placement. The other students in the picture are Peder, Isha and Christopher. The placement was with the research group for advanced cancer therapy in February. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

“It is really sad that we have missed out on so much practical work, which was why I chose the Researcher Programme. Fortunately, we have done a few experiments at home. We have, among other things, made our own solar thermal collectors and learnt how to measure light strength in lux, which we have used to understand how to measure the distance from the Earth to the stars,” says Tia.

Monica shares the students’ feelings.

“The students were in the middle of their independent research projects when the school closed. Some had already performed experiments at home with plants that they could follow up, but other students were dependent on finishing their projects at school. The purpose was always for them to present the results of their research during a poster session, which is a presentation format that researchers use to show data and other findings from their research, but we have had to postpone this activity. Hopefully, we can complete it in June with the students’ mentors present,” Monica says.

The poster session is not the only thing the students have missed. Four placements with different research groups at Oslo University Hospital and the company Thermo Fisher Scientific, and three relevant lectures by researchers, were planned for the period they have been stuck at home.

“The students have missed out on many aspects of the Researcher Programme in this period, because it is difficult to perform the practical work, both in the regular teaching and in the form of placements. It is simply a more boring school day,” Monica says.

The corona pandemic itself can however be used in the teaching, both in mathematics to learn about exponential growth and in biology to learn about viruses.

Happy to return to school

Tia and Henrik really miss being in school together with the other students of the Researcher Programme and other friends, both at Ullern and outside of school.

“I look forward to meeting my friends again. I don’t see many of them now. I also look forward to getting started with the practical work at school, with experiments in the natural sciences and biology. It is really fun, and the teachers are good at organising interesting experiments and placements, in collaboration with Oslo Cancer Cluster,” says Henrik.

Tia also misses her friends a lot.

“Maybe what I look forward to the most is getting back to the normal everyday routine – going to school and being with friends. I talk to my friends over Teams and have one friend I meet a lot, but I miss being with many people at once,” says Tia.

She thinks the learning is more challenging from home.

“It is easier to ask for help in school. It is much more difficult to get a verbal explanation without being shown how everything is connected by the teacher, so I spend a lot of time trying to figure things out myself instead of asking for help,” says Tia.

The students are also sorely missed by their teachers.

“I miss them all and especially the contact with the students in a classroom setting, one-on-one. It is much more fun and better to follow the students directly, especially when they think the subject is a bit heavy,” says Monica.

Tia is still sure that even though the corona pandemic has had far-reaching consequences, not all of them are bad.

“I think it seems like everyone has made the best out of the situation. It could have gone much worse and been much worse. In many ways, I think this is a useful experience and, one way or another, something good will come of it,” says Tia.

Summary of postponed or cancelled plans for the students:

  • Poster session about their own research projects with the mentors
  • Lecture on screening of new-borns with Janne Strand, Child- and Youth Clinic, Oslo University Hospital
  • Lecture on structural biology and drug design with Bjørn Dalhus, Oslo University Hospital
  • Lecture on organising research with Barbra Noodt, Cancer Clinic, Oslo University Hospital
  • Placement with Thermo Fisher Scientific
  • Placement with Harald Stenmark at the Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Oslo University Hospital
  • Placement with Hans Christian Aas at Flow Cytometry Core Facilities at Oslo University Hospital
  • Placement with Bjørn Dalhus’ research group Structural Biology and DNA repair, Oslo University Hospital.

 

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Ketil Widerberg, general manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster, gave input to the hearing on the changes to the Biotechnology Act in order to promote cancer innovation in Norway.

Research on gene-edited embryos allowed

Important cancer research into gene-edited human embryos will now be possible in Norway

Research on gene-edited human embryos will now be allowed in Norway, after a majority agreement has been reached among parties in the Norwegian Parliament. The news was given at a press conference on Thursday, when representatives from the three political parties Arbeiderpartiet, Fremskrittspartiet and Sosialistisk Venstre presented the amendments to the Biotechnology Act (“bioteknologiloven”). This is the act relating to the application of biotechnology in medicine.

The changes to the Biotechnology Act are good news for cancer patients and researchers, as they allow for research into gene-edited human embryos. This will give us important knowledge about how cancer arises and how to develop effective treatments against cancer.

Oslo Cancer Cluster gave input to these changes, during a hearing on 6 February 2020 at the Ministry for Health and Care Services. We emphasised that it is important that the regulations are in line with technological developments to promote research, so that we in the future have improved access to personalised cancer diagnostics and treatments.

“These are important changes to promote cancer innovation in Norway. It will help accelerate research into new cell therapies, which will benefit cancer patients both here in Norway and abroad,” said Ketil Widerberg, general manager of Oslo Cancer Cluster.

Gene technology is an important area in cancer research, with many recent break-through discoveries. By gene-editing human embryos, researchers can develop personalised cancer treatments and diagnostics.

Cell division in embryos and uncontrolled cell division in cancer cells is regulated by the same genes. That is why research on gene-edited human embryos will give us valuable knowledge about genetic diseases like cancer.

Gene technology can be used to create genetic changes and give us more knowledge about cell division. For example, researchers can insert genetic markers in DNA and follow the cell’s development from stem cell to cancer cell. They can also produce mutations in an embryo and study how cancer develops at an early stage.

You can read more about cancer research and gene-editing on the Cancer Research UK Science Blog.

It is important to note that the embryos used for research and gene-editing are not allowed to be implanted in a female uterus for pregnancy. This is in line with the current Swedish regulations on gene-edited human embryos.

The fact that gene-editing human embryos will be allowed in Norway means that we can attract world-class cancer clinical studies and deliver new personalised treatments to cancer patients.

The Norwegian Parliament (“Stortinget”) will officially vote on the amendments on 26 May 2020 and we will follow any further developments closely.

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Foto: Helsenæringens Verdi 2020

Helsenæringens verdi 2020

Helsenæringens Verdi 2020

Helsenæringen er en dobbel mulighet for Norge: næringen kan løse mange av våre helse- og omsorgsutfordringer de neste tiårene og samtidig bli en av våre største næringer, med eksport til et globalt marked.

Den norske helsenæringen hadde en samlet omsetningsvekst på 4,7 prosent i 2018. Rapporten dokumenterer at denne veksten særlig var drevet av store selskaper i den norske helseindustrien. Bedriftene i alle bransjene i helsenæringen rapporterer om ytterligere vekst 2019, noe som resulterer i et vekstestimat for næringen som helhet på 6,2 prosent for 2019 – dette er høyere enn næringens gjennomsnittlige årlige vekst for de siste ti årene.

Bedriftene rapporterer samtidig om svært sterke forventninger til treårsperioden fra 2020 til 2022. Bedriftenes egne vekstprognoser for disse årene er imidlertid hentet inn før Koronakrisen utviklet seg til en global krise. Det er av den grunn svært høy usikkerhet knyttet til disse prognosene.

Koronakrisen er en «helsekrise». Dette gjør at krisen påvirker helsenæringen med en langt større variasjon mellom bransjer og segmenter enn for andre næringer. I rapporten redegjøres det både for segmenter i helsenæringen som aldri har opplevd høyere etterspørsel og aktivitet enn nå under Koronakrisen samt for bransjer og segmenter som har tilnærmet stoppet helt opp.

Den norske helsenæringen fremstår som godt forspent for videre vekst også i etterkant av Koronakrisen. Krisen har bidratt til å rette fokus på beredskap og innenlandsk produksjonskapasitet. En trend mot dette er ventet å styrke selskaper og produksjonsland som kan levere kvalitet, profesjonalitet og trygghet for leveranser, også i krisesituasjoner. Dette er en trend som bør kunne gagne Norge og norske helsebedrifter, både produsenter av legemidler eller medisinsk teknologi så vel som leverandører av helsetjenester.

Helsenæringens verdi 2020 dokumenterer at det er særlig er to ting bedriftene etterspør for å sikre videre vekst,

  • Markedstilgang – bedriftene i helsenæringen, både industri- og behandlingsbedriftene, trekker frem tilgang til offentlige anbud og konkurranse på like vilkår som den største flaksehalsen for videre vekst. Det er særlig mindre bedrifter og selskaper med inntekter fra både inn- og utland som opplever tilgangen på offentlige anbud som dårlig.
  • Skaleringskapital – det trekkes frem av et flertall av bedrifter at de savner støtteordninger som er innrettet mot skalering og internasjonalisering

Se lanseringen av Menon-rapporten

Les rapporten Helsenæringens Verdi 2020

Aktørene som står bak Menon-rapporten:

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Computers with different software and programming language is necessary to learn about machine learning and artificial intelligence. PhD student Øyvind Sigmundsson Skøyen explains to Jakob, August, Magnus and Jørgen how to program the game Snake so that the snake always survives.

Programming to understand artificial intelligence

Students learning Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Neural Networks

This article was originally published in Norwegian on our School Collaboration website.

How can programming, artificial intelligence and machine learning help us understand the human brain?

Four students from Ullern Upper Secondary School spent two days in the beginning of March on a placement in the Department of Physics at the University of Oslo. Jakob, August, Jørgen and Magnus learned how to program the snake in the game Snake to survive. At the same time, they learned about artificial intelligence, neural networks and machine learning.

Every spring, Professors Anders Malthe-Sørenssen and Marianne Fyhn at the University of Oslo receive eight students from Ullern Upper Secondary School on a placement.

Marianne Fyhn’s research group consists of some of the leading neuroscientists in the world. The four biology students Chiara, Eline, Tora and Eilin from Ullern Upper Secondary School spent the placement training rats and learned how research on rats can provide valuable knowledge about the human brain.

Anders Malthe-Sørenssen is the Director of CCSE (the Center for Computing in Science Education), where the students Magnus Trandokken, August Natvik, Jørgen Hamsund and Jakob Weidel were on another placement.

“There are three PhD students here, who are teaching the Ullern students. At the end of the day, they will gain a better understanding of what artificial intelligence is. We wish to explain the concept to them and give them an insight into what machine learning, neural networks and programming are,” said Malthe-Sørenssen.

  • Scroll to the bottom of this page to read the definitions for machine learning, neural networks and artificial intelligence.

Malthe-Sørenssen and the PhD students tested a new teaching tool on the Ullern students. If it is successful, more students will be able to access it to learn about artificial intelligence. Malthe-Sørenssen and his research group also try to improve the teaching of advanced mathematics, physics and programming in upper secondary schools.

Students learning artificial intelligence, machine learning and neural networks

Øyvind Sigmundsson Skøyen (in the middle) was one of the PhD students that taught the students from Ullern Upper Secondary School. Here, he is helping Jakob Weidel, who is in his first year. To the right is August Natvik, who is graduating this year. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

Making the snake immortal

Jakob, Magnus, August and Jørgen programmed the game Snake in the programming language Python. This is a programming language that is available for free, an “open source”. You can download it here.

The point of the game Snake is to keep a snake alive for as long as possible. It lives in a square, where it eats candy so that its tail grows. The purpose of the game is to make sure the snake doesn’t crash into itself while it is growing because if it crashes, the snake dies. But it is not that easy. Try it yourself here.

“The students will program the snake so that it can learn where it is smart to move to eat the candy, while at the same time avoiding to crash into its growing tail. It is a good way to understand a little artificial intelligence and machine learning,” said Malthe-Sørenssen.

The three PhD students Sebastian Winther-Larsen, Øyvind Sigmundsson Skøyen and Even Marius Nordhagen were there to teach the Ullern students.

Øyvind had just finished showing the students how to programme the snake when it was Even’s turn to teach.

“What du you already know about machine learning?” Even asked.

“I have seen a little bit on YouTube,” Jakob replied.

“I know the theory, but I haven’t tried it myself,” Magnus said.

Even explained that he would present the theories behind machine learning and neural networks first, and then let the students create a neural network for Snake.

“Linear regression – a theory we often use in mathematics – is a simple form of machine learning. It is about producing a function that gives us the best line between two points. We use something called the method of least squares,” Even said.

Ullern students learning artificial intelligence, machine learning and neural networks.

Espen Marius Nordhagen (to the right) explains to the students from Ullern that regression is a simple form of machine learning. August Natvik is following closely. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

Even explained that machine learning is used in image analysis. A computer can be taught to recognise and see the difference between several objects in a picture. The objects can be cars, bikes, humans, or other things. The computer can then be taught to create the images, which are then called generative models. Voice recognition, such as the virtual assistant Siri for iPhone users, is also based on machine learning, just like self-driving cars and buses.

“In order to understand artificial intelligence, you have to know what a neural network is. The concept is inspired by biology, neuroscience, and how human beings learn and remember. A neural network is a simplification of the human brain. The brain is in reality much more complicated,” Even explained.

“What is actually the difference between machine learning and artificial intelligence?” Jørgen asked.

Even explained that regression is machine learning, but not artificial intelligence.

“If you have a neural network with several layers, a so-called ‘deep neural network’, it is artificial intelligence. Then you will observe that something is happening with the data you receive from the neural network, it will be something you do not understand and cannot model, but it is consistent with reality,” Even said.

Learned new subjects

Magnus, August and Jørgen are all in the third year and have specialised in the natural sciences, with different combinations of mathematics, physics, technology, research, programming and computer modelling.

After graduating, all three of them will go to military school. Afterwards, Jørgen and Magnus are tempted to study at NTNU.

“The Industrial Economics programme at NTNU seems really good. Maybe I will combine it with the Entrepreneurship Programme, which is also at NTNU. Then I can start my own company after I finished studying. I am also thinking about a career in the military,” said Magnus.

The Ullern students agreed that the placement at the Department of Physics had been difficult, but fun and educational too.

“They are really good at teaching here. It has been difficult, because we haven’t studied these subjects before and everything new is always difficult,” said Jørgen.

Jakob Weidel is still in his first year and is thinking about studying the same subjects as the other three Ullern students. He was asked to participate in the placement after he helped Tom Werner Halvårsrød, the IT administrator at Ullern Upper Secondary School, to programme Excel sheets, which are used in the school.

“I have made a few apps and developed a few websites and used different types of programming languages. I have never used Python before, so it has been fun to learn something new,” said Jakob.

(image caption) Anders Malthe-Sørenssen is a professor at CCSE (the Centre for Computing in Science Education) at the University of Oslo. He and his research group are active in many different areas of research, including improving how physics is taught and understanding how the brain works through advanced mathematical models. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen.

Anders Malthe-Sørenssen is a professor at CCSE (the Centre for Computing in Science Education) at the University of Oslo. He and his research group are active in many different areas of research, including improving how physics is taught and understanding how the brain works through advanced mathematical models. Photo: Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

Neural networks and neuroscience

Malthe-Sørenssen’s and Fyhn’s research groups collaborate in a field of biology and physics, which is about research into how the human brain works and neural networks, in the projects DigiBrain and CINPLA. CINPLA is an acronym for Centre for Integrative Neuroplasticity.

“Here at the Department of Physics, we create computer models of neural networks. Then, we compare our models with Marianne’s discoveries about how the brain works from her studies on rats and mice. So far, we have seen that our models give a good picture of what is actually happening in the brain, but we are far from finished,” says Malthe-Sørenssen.

His popular research group receives over 1 000 job applications every year, but they want to keep prioritising student placements.

“We are dedicated to contributing to improving the programming skills in schools. One of our employees has developed the new subject and the syllabus for programming and computer modelling, which will be implemented in upper secondary schools by autumn 2020. Programming will then be used to teach several subjects, including mathematics,” Malthe-Sørenssen says.

He thinks it is good to contribute to raising the level of skills in the local schools around the Department of Physics at the University of Oslo.

What is a placement?

Oslo Cancer Cluster and Ullern Upper Secondary School have an active school collaboration project. The collaboration gives students at the school the opportunity to take part in work placements at different companies and research groups at Oslo University Hospital, at the University of Oslo and with members of Oslo Cancer Cluster.

On the placements, the students get to learn about different subject areas directly from experts and they get the opportunity to do practical laboratory work. The purpose of the placements is to give the students an insight into the practical everyday life of different professions and what career opportunities that different academic degrees hold.

DEFINITIONS

Neural Networks: A neural network is a group term for data structures, and their algorithms, that has been inspired by the way nerve cells in the brain are organised. Neural networks are among the key concepts in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Machine learning: Machine learning is a special area within artificial intelligence, where you use statistical models to help computers to find patterns in large data quantities. The machine “learns” instead of being programmed.

Artificial intelligence: Artificial intelligence is information technology that adapts its own activity and therefore seems intelligent. A computer that is able to solve assignments without instructions from a human on how to do it, has artificial intelligence.

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