Erik Norberg 2015–2017

is awarded the prize/grant for his interesting and creative studies of alternations in the metabolism in cancer cells. The results may open new possibilities for cancer diagnostics as well as for future treatment of cancer. The prize will be rewarded in connection with the Installation Ceremony October 15th.

After receiving his Ph.D. in Medical Sciences from Karolinska Institute in 2011, Erik Norberg joined the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School in the USA, for his Postdoctoral studies. In 2014, he returned to Sweden and the Karolinska Institute to establish his own independent research group. His research focuses on identifying and targeting tumor specific alterations in metabolism.

Discovery of metabolic heterogeneity within the same tumor type

During his Postdoctoral work, Erik Norberg’s research had a central focus on Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphomas (DLBCLs), which are aggressive tumors with both genetic and clinical variability. He could demonstrate that this tumor type, consist of multiple metabolic subgroups, that rely on distinct survival signaling. In particular, metabolic subsets where certain subtypes is dependent on fatty acid oxidation, a powerful antioxidant capacity and increased mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, other DLBCL subsets is more dependent on glucose catabolism for energy production and generate more lactate.

These breakthrough findings indicate that unique metabolic programs are activated in specific subsets of DLBCLs that confers growth and survival signaling. The study highlights the metabolic heterogeneity that can exist even within a single tumor type that initially shares the same diagnosis. These findings were presented in the prestigious journal Cancer Cell.

The Research group of Erik Norberg employs a translational approach starting from primary patient material paralleled by studies to elucidate the molecular mechanisms in cancer cells, normal cells and cancer mouse models, with the ultimate goal of identifying novel drug targets and prognostic markers. The Research group of Erik Norberg is taking advantage of an integrative approach consisting of metabolomics, proteomics, genetic, biochemical and molecular biological tools to understand how tumor metabolism can be re-wired and differentially used in tumors of the same type and how it is integrated to determine tumor cell survival.

Thanks to the support from the Malin and Lennart Philipson foundation I have been given a great and unique start to my independent research career. It is a great honor for me to receive this prize. The funding allows me to expand my research group, which will have tremendous impact on the work we can perform in the laboratory. 

Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet Lennart Philipson in person, but as I have gained my academic education from both the Uppsala University and the Karolinska Institute, I have many times heard his name and about his outstanding contributions to science. 

Read more about The Erik Norberg lab.