Daily Archives: Friday December 20th, 2013


Christmas is approaching and it is time to look back and reflect upon what has happened during the first year at K2.  The institute was created on the basis of four clinical institutes and many of the efforts undertaken by the leadership have aimed to establish a common culture, and to introduce common routines and arrangements based on the best practices from the old institutes.  Because of this many people have had to adapt to a new structure.  I am impressed with how flexible many of you have been during this process.

K2 is now organized in 8 academic sections and 21 research groups, with leaders bestowed with mandates.  A technician process has been effectuated based on a rationale for how many technical positions are tied to the various research groups.  A strategy plan valid until 2015 has been created.  The HSE council is up and running.  The academic affairs section is joined with K1 and in total 82 courses are administered in medicine, odontology, pharmacy and nutrition.

There are currently 143 PhD candidates at K2 and a total of 26 public defences have been completed at the institute.  The Emeriti have done an excellent job as custodes.

Financial constraints have been a recurrent issue throughout the year.  Even though our finances are still tight, we can rejoice in the fact that the situation is now markedly better than it was just a few months ago.

These are just a few keywords covering what has happened this year.  There are still many challenges that await us, but for now we can all look forward to Christmas with a good conscience.

Last week we received the sad message that Senior Engineer Hildegunn Helle passed away, only 41 years old.  This reminds us how fragile life is, and that despite all the happenings at the institute, it is far more important to have peace with oneself and ones nearest relatives and acquaintances.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a peaceful Christmas and a Happy new Year!


Hildegunn_2It was with great sadness that the Brest Cancer Group at Mohn Cancer Research Laboratory received the news that Hildegunn had passed away on the evening of December 10.  Her death was not unexpected; we knew she was seriously ill and that this was inevitable.  However, as she quietly passed away on Monday evening in her own home surrounded by her closest family it was a dignified and good ending to a prolonged illness.

Hildegunn arrived in our group in 1995; and except for natural leaves of absence due to three child births, she was working continuously in our group until her illness made this physically impossible.  She belonged to the group of veterans joining us early and working with us up until what the group has become today.  Hildegunn excelled from the beginning as a highly skilled coworker.  In the beginning she was among those developing our new assays for high-sensitive estrogen-measurements, and this work would later prove decisive in the understanding, and use of, the new aromatase inhibitors, which today is standard treatment for hundreds of thousands of women with breast cancer worldwide.  Later she participated in the pioneer-work related to the development of biobanks in addition to performing a number of other analytical tasks.  She was one of the key staff members during the planning and furnishing of our new Mohn Cancer Research Laboratory.   She was a coworker who never said no to new challenges; she knew her own skills, and she met new challenges with the attitude “I can’t do this, but given the opportunity I would love to learn this and do the task”.  Knowledge and appliance of statistics for data-processing is one example, her commitment as HSE-representative is another; together these two examples illustrate the breadth of her work efforts and the skills of an unusually gifted person.

Above all she was one of the founding pillars in the good working environment we have enjoyed for many years in the group.  Both as a role model and, not least, as a person actively taking part in the introduction and training of new personnel, she played a key role.  Her winning personality and good sense of humor will always be remembered; she was not afraid to bring up problems, but she always did this in a constructive way.  It was with great joy that we could formally promote her to senior engineer autumn 2012, a position suitable to the tasks she had executed in an outstanding way over several years.

It was not a coincidence that Hildegunn applied her work energy to cancer research.  Through several performance assessments she genuinely expressed how meaningful she found her work.  Hence it becomes even more meaningless that it was precisely a cancer disease which would end her life at an early age of 42.

We mourn Hildegunn’s passing.  At the same time we are left with a warm memory, and a genuine thank for everything she was for us through all these years; both professionally and personally.  Our thoughts are with Hildegunn’s closest family; Svein Inge, who has lost his life partner, and their three minor children who have lost their mother.

Per Eystein Lønning, Professor, K2