The two largest research programs in Sweden, the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP) and the SciLifeLab and Wallenberg National Program for Data-Driven Life Science (DDLS), will team up in a new collaborative effort, with the ultimate goal of solving ground breaking research questions and to create synergies across disciplines.

The effort will bring together state-of-the-art research infrastructures, research networks and life science/AI/ML competences spread across the country.

This is a unique opportunity to explore the possibilities that a combination of world leading research on data driven technologies can provide in the context of top-class life science research”, says the WASP program director, Anders Ynnerman.

The DDLS program has just got started in Jan 2021, and we are happy and excited to plan the first ever call for funding from DDLS. To kickstart DDLS, this first call will be in collaboration with WASP, which is very fitting for a data-driven life science program. Engagement of the data science and life science communities is essential for the DDLS program,” says Olli Kallioniemi Director of SciLifeLab and the DDLS program.

Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP), gathers several of the world-leading AI researchers, now counting 40 recruited faculty members and a graduate school with more than 300 ongoing PhD projects. The program has since 2015 provided a platform for academic research and education, fostering interaction with Sweden’s leading companies. The vision of WASP is to promote excellent research and competence in artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and software for the benefit of Swedish industry.

The SciLifeLab and Wallenberg National Program for Data Driven Life Science (DDLS) was announced in October 2020 and officially launched in January 2021. Funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW), DDLS is a 12-year initiative to support data-driven life science in Sweden and change the way life science is carried out, with SciLifeLab as the main host. The program will focus on four strategic research areas, data-driven research in: cell and molecular biology, evolution and biodiversity, precision medicine and diagnostics, epidemiology and infection biology. The aim of the program is to foster the next generation of life scientists, provide every scientist with knowledge and tools to better analyze data patterns and integrate their data with the global life science data streams, and to create a strong computational and data science base.

Now, the DDLS and WASP programs join forces in forming multi-disciplinary collaborations and to bridge the gap between the scientific disciplines of the life science and data science communities. The goal is to find mechanisms that enable flow of ideas, solutions and competence in both directions between the programs. The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation has earmarked funding for such collaborations in their donations to both programs.

DDLS and WASP have started the planning of the collaboration through a joint program committee. A webinar will be held on June 11th * where researchers from the different scientific disciplines will meet and gain awareness of each other’s communities. In addition, information about our plans for a joint call for projects will be presented. The projects are expected to bridge the thematic profiles of the two programs by addressing fundamental research challenges between their respective research areas and should exhibit a strong visionary and novelty nature.

I am convinced that joint DDLS-WASP teams will be in a unique position to work on the most urgent and challenging problems in life science”, says Ynnerman.

“It will be interesting as to what kind of joint proposals will be suggested, the whole point of the program is multidisciplinary, which by default is filled with surprises!”,
says Kallioniemi.

“Our plans regarding a joint call will be presented for approval by the SciLifeLab Board and the WASP Board in the middle of May”, concludes Ynnerman and Kallioniemi.

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Published: April 29th, 2021

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