Monthly Archives: May 2020

How has K2 experienced the corona shut down so far?

Department of Clinical Science shut down March 12. Staff and students lost access to their workplace and campus, leaving them to find new solutions to keep the wheels running. The K2 leader group recently made a survey to map how the corona crises has been handled. Here follows an excerpt of the answers and comments.

Thanks to good IT solutions, many have been able to work effectively at home. Researchers have spent time working on applications and writing papers. Meetings have been held using Zoom, Teams or similar platforms. Still, there are many critical voices that the shutdown has been too extensive and rigid, without local adaptions. Helse Bergen staff have been able to work more or less as before applying infection control measures, while UiB employees have not had access to the laboratories. Shutdown of the core facilities is another point that has been criticized. They could have been operated more or less uninhibited with necessary infection control measures. In particular, the shutdown and slaughter of valuable laboratory animals at the animal facility has been met with harsh criticism. PhD students and postdoctoral fellows have been particularly affected, and many ask for extension of their grant period. After seeing that Norway and especially Vestland has controlled the pandemic effectively, the UiB leadership is criticized for the slowness in reopening activities.

Many public defences of doctoral thesis have been held digitally, but the experiences have been divided. In particular, it was pointed out that IT support has been deficient. When it was allowed for 50 people to meet, UiB did not follow up, but adhere to the rule of a maximum of 5 people, why?

The technical staff is the group that has had the least benefit from home office, and has not had enough tasks to fill their time. The administrative staff, on the other hand, have mostly been able to work as usual. Digital solutions and meetings have mostly worked well, but the social community and the collegiate community has been sorely missed.

In summary, experience shows that local adaptations and considerations must be used in the prevention measures. In addition to a quick shut down, one must also be quick to open up when the situation allows. In the event of a new infection peak, we hope for a slightly more forward-leaning and dynamic UiB management that can better coordinate initiatives with Helse-Bergen, which we share work places with.

Thanks to all who responded to the survey.

Eystein and Julie

Staff and students who fall ill on campus 

Employees and students who develop symptoms of Covid-19 while on campus must immediately distance themselves from others and return home immediately. Traveling home should not be by public transport, and if not possible to avoid using public transportation, the sick person must use a facemask. UiB has masks for such conditions. Contact your nearest manager or institute to get a facemask.

Anyone who becomes ill on campus should report to UiB via this form:  “Registration of proven infection for staff and students who have access to UiB’s building”.

Employees and students who have been closer than 2 meters to the infected over a period of more than 15 minutes must quarantine for 10 days.

PhD defense – Hanna Elisabet Dillekås

Hanna Elisabet Dillekås will defend her PhD thesis on Thursday 4th June 2020

Trial lecture: Thursday 4th June 2020 at 10.15

Topic: “Triple-negative breast cancer – the biology behind and novel strategies to improve clinical outcome”


Public defense: Thursday 4th June 2020 at 12.15

Title of dissertation: «Importance of physical trauma on recurrence of breast cancer. Can tissue trauma synchronize growth of dormant micrometastases?»


1st opponent: Universitetslektor Christine Desmedt, University of Leuven, Belgium

2nd opponent: Professor Jürgen Geisler, Universitetet i Oslo

3rd member of the committee: Førsteamanuensis Katrin Brauckhoff, Universitetet i Bergen

The defense will be led by professor Roland Jonsson

This week`s employee – Marie Hagen

I have been working as a technician in The Leukemia research group, now headed by professor Håkon Reikvam, for 9 years. My tasks are varied, and I like the opportunity to be able to change between the still-sitting computer-work and the more active lab-work. Most of my time I spend biobanking, working with RNA/DNA, cell cultures, analysis by flow cytometry, teaching/aiding PhD-candidates and researchers, and general maintenance of lab and instruments. Just now I am working on a project looking into integrins in acute myeloid leukemia. During this home-office period, I have transformed our dining table into an efficient workstation to analyse the flowcytometry results from this project.

The reason I have stayed on in my first position after finishing my master thesis for so many years, is the combination of interesting and varied workdays, and all my fantastic colleagues here at K2. There is always a possibility to learn something new and exciting. I always look forward to work, and not everyone can count themselves as lucky!


New publications

Here are recent publications with contributions from K2 based on last week’s search on PubMed (and optionally articles that have not been included in previous lists). This time the list includes in total 7 recent publications. The entries appear in the order they were received from NCBI. If you have publications that are not included in this or previous lists, please send the references to Oda Barth Vedøy.

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The covid-19 epidemic has changed our way of working. How is this affecting female versus male researchers?

Early analyses discussed in a recent article in Nature (10.1038/d41586-020-01294-9) suggest that female academics are posting fewer preprints and starting fewer research projects than their male peers.

COVID-19 is changing the way research is done. World-wide lockdowns mean that, overnight, many households worldwide have become an intersection of work, school, and home life. The new mechanisms of accelerated peer review, the increased quantity and speed of available data, and the distribution of funding across sectors are changing the equilibria of the academic world. We therefore need to pay attention to the effects this has on disparities. What happens when a couple is at home? Is it exacerbating gender inequality? In a commentary in Nature (doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-01135-9) very early during the pandemic, Alessandra Minello suggested it is disproportionately affecting the productivity of female academics, because they often do more caregiving than men.

Megan Frederickson, an ecologist at the University of Toronto being COVID-19-quarantined herself, looked at preprint servers to investigate whether women were posting fewer studies than they were before lockdowns began ( Peer review takes time, it is still too soon to see COVID-19’s effects on the numbers of journal articles published by female versus male academics. However, a growing number of academics make their submitted or in-progress manuscripts available on preprint servers, meaning it might be possible to measure the pandemic’s effect on preprint submissions in real time. She looked at arXiv (physical sciences), and bioRxiv (life sciences) to determine the gender of studies posted between March 15 and April 15 in 2019 and in 2020. The number of women who authored preprints at arXiv increased by 2.7% from 2019 to 2020 — but the number of male authors grew by 6.4% over the same period. The numbers for bioRxiv were 24.2% vs. 26%. A similar trend was found in a separate study including nine popular preprint servers ( Thus, women’s publishing rate has fallen relative to men’s amid the pandemic.

In another study by the information scientist Cassidy Sugimoto at Indiana University Bloomington on three registered-report repositories including, there was a decrease in the proportion of submissions by female principal investigators from March and April of 2019 to the same months in 2020, when lockdowns started. Hence, women are registering a smaller proportion of new research projects than before the pandemic.

What are the likely causes for this effect? Increased household labor and childcare responsibility are probably the major reasons. Also, women more often take care of ailing relatives. The sudden shift to online teaching might mean more work for women as they in average probably have more teaching commitments than men, while the shutdown of the universities might free more time for men to write papers as they more often have non-research commitments.

What can be done to mitigate this effect? Our scientific environment requires the participation of all members of the population; a crisis requires that we draw from the intellect of the full population. As the effects and the pandemic are likely to linger, we must consider how our evaluation systems and resource allocation mechanisms take into account the inequities in labor distribution for women. We need to create infrastructures to allow for all populations to participate, and to acknowledge systematic differences in their ability to do so.

Enjoy your week-end!

PhD defense – Thomas Aga Legøy

Thomas Aga Legøy will defend his PhD thesis on Tuesday 26th May 2020

Trial lecture: Tuesday 26th May at 10:15
Topic: «Pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes»                                                                                             Place:

Public defense: Tuesday 26th May at 12:15                                                                                            Title of dissertation: «Investigating cell fate decisions in the pancreatic islet»                        Place:

1st opponent: Professor Valerie Schwitzgebel, University of Geneva

2nd opponent: PhD Marijana Licina, University of Geneva

3rd member of the committee: Professor Thomas Arnesen, Universitetet i Bergen

The defense will be led by professor Gunnar Mellgren

PhD defense – Hildegunn Høberg Vetti

Hildegunn Høberg Vetti will defend her PhD thesis on Friday 29th May 2020

Trial lecture: Friday 29th May 2020 at 09.15
Topic: “Hvordan kunnskap om arvelighet ved kreft kan endre situasjonen for pasienten, familien og samfunnet”                                                                                                                        Place:

Public defense: Friday 29th May 2020 at 11.15                                                                                  Title of dissertation:«New procedures for genetic testing and counselling of patients with breast or ovarian cancer»                                                                                                                    Place:

1st opponent: Ph.d. Marie Stenmark Askmalm Skånes, Universitetssjukhus, Sverige

2nd opponent: Dr. scient. Grethe S. Foss, Helsedirektoratet

3rd member of the committe: Professor emeritus Ole-Erik Iversen, Universitetet i Bergen

The defense will be led by professor Line Bjørge

PhD-defense – Karl Erik Müller

Karl Erik Müller will defend his PhD thesis on Friday 29th May 2020

Trial lecture: Friday 29th May 2020 at 10.00
Topic: «Vaccine development challenges and implementation of control strategies for elimination of Leishmaniasis in endemic areas»                                                                                Place:

Public defense: Friday 29th May 2020 at 12.00
Title of dissertation: «Characterisation of Leishmania amino acid permease 3 (AAP3) coding sequences and flanking regions as a target for detection and diagnosis of the leishmaniases»      Place:

1st opponent: Professor Anja Tatiana Ramstedt Jensen, University of Copenhagen, Danmark

2nd opponent: PhD Alvaro Acosta Serrano, Liverpool School of tropical Medicine, Storbritannia

3rd member of the committee: Professor Emerita Birgitta Åsjø, Universitetet i Bergen

The defense will be led by professor Silke Appel

This week`s employee – Kristina Strand

I’m a PhD candidate at the Hormone Laboratory Research group and I started in the group as a master student in molecular biology in 2015. After I finished my master degree I was hired as a technician and I was working on the project that turned out to be my PhD-project. In the project we receive blood and adipose tissue biopsies from morbidly obese patients undergoing bariatric surgery. We characterize immune cells, with focus on macrophages and NK cells, in these samples to determine how the tissue inflammation is connected to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. We want to determine which subgroups of immune cells are important in adipose tissue inflammation and to get a better understanding of why some morbidly obese individuals develop insulin resistance whereas others do not.

The working environment on K2 is very good, with a lot of nice and welcoming colleagues. I wanted to do my master project at K2 because of the connection to Haukeland hospital and the possibilities to do exciting medical research. The research environment at K2 is interdisciplinary, where molecular biologists, doctors, surgeons, bioengineers and others work together and contribute with different knowledge into the research projects.

Norwegian: Hjemmekontor – Magdalena Keindl

Mens mange sliter, har jeg egentlig ikke hatt noen produktivitetsproblemer med hjemmekontor ennå. Jeg var heldig med at jeg ikke hadde lab-arbeid planlagt i denne perioden, så dagene mine består av å skrive manuskripter og planlegge fremtidige prosjekter. I løpet av pandemien lærte jeg at vi absolutt er klare for å leve i en digital verden, og som lar oss jobbe fra hvor som helst og gi oss mye friheter og muligheter som kan benyttes i framtiden. Dessuten setter jeg enda mer pris på «open-access» publikasjoner, men jeg må innrømme at Sci-Hub definitivt ble flyttet opp et hakk i bokmerke-listen.

Når jeg jobber hjemmefra får jeg også hjelp av mine to katte-sekretærer som passer på at det akkurat er nok kattehår på tastaturet mitt til enhver tid. I tillegg har hjemmekontoret mitt en fin utsikt mot Haukeland og Ulriken, som gir meg følelsen av å være på jobb – med mindre mai-snøen blokkerer utsikten. For å være unngå å miste lab-ferdighetene mine, sammenligner jeg cellekultur med frø og planter.

Vanligvis mister jeg mye tid gjennom dagen på pendling, men nå er det kort vei fra senga til kontoret og til og med til yogasenteret i stua. Jobbantrekket har begynt å bevege seg mot en «business on top, party on the bottom» stil hvor jeg kombinerer bluser med pyjamasbukser. Det er ikke så farlig så lenge man ser profesjonell ut foran kamera. Jeg håper bare at ingen kommer til å spørre meg om å stå opp under neste Zoommøte.

Mest sannsynligvis er jeg ikke den eneste som er i et dypt forhold med mute-knappen. Jeg har allerede vitnet til flere Zoom-uhell, og er fryktelig redd for å være den neste som forårsaker uønskede bakgrunnsstøy. Bare husk alle de pinlige øyeblikkene under online møtene, for disse historiene blir gøye å høre om når vi endelig kan spise lunsj sammen igjen.

New publications

Here are recent publications with contributions from K2 based on last week’s search on PubMed (and optionally articles that have not been included in previous lists). This time the list includes in total 12 recent publications. The entries appear in the order they were received from NCBI. If you have publications that are not included in this or previous lists, please send the references to Oda Barth Vedøy.

Continue reading

This week’s leader

While both our work and personal lives have had to make major adaptions with COVID-19, it has also resulted in unprecedented innovation. Both directly and indirectly COVID-19 has changed all aspects of our lives, from the way we communicate, interact and socialise to our impact upon the planet. As a result of these changes, technology has had to advance, opening up novel solutions and more importantly perhaps, new opportunities. Ironically, and despite our current focus on social distancing, we have learned to come together to accelerate development e.g. upscaling of a new diagnostic tests at NTNU in one month or new hospitals built in a week in China. With the opening of the new incubator already this autumn, and NFR application deadlines just around the corner – there has never been a better time to jump on the wave of innovation.

Finally, the latest memo from Dean Per Bakke suggests that we are now moving in the right direction towards resuming normal lab activities. In order to reintegrate into our normal working lives it is critical that everyone take the “e-learning-course-protective-measures”. So I guess this 17th of May we have more reason than most years to celebrate. Gratulerer med Dagen!

Evaluation of the handling of the corona virus at UiB

As the university is about to open up after this (first) wave of infection with the coronavirus, it is necessary to do an evaluation of what worked well and what worked not so well during the period UiB was closed. The intention is that we are best equipped for any next wave that FHI has suggested may come this fall.

Likewise, it is important to make an assessment of what more permanent changes we can make even if there is no new wave.

We therefore ask for your feedback on how UIB in your opinion has handled the corona situation in the spring of 2020. It is up to you to comment on the fields you want and feel are relevant for you.

We appreciate you taking the time to answer. Deadline: Wednesday 20th May.

Best regards Pål and the leader group at K2.

Faculty Day 2020 – Award Winners

Because of the pandemic the award ceremony of the Faculty Day 2020 is moved to October 21. Until then – here are the award winners. Congratulations to all!

Falch-prisvinnerne, fra venstre: Marte-Helene Bjørk, Henriette Aksnes og Nils Erik Gilhus. Foto/ill.: Silje Alvestad / Privat / Anne Sidsel Herdlevær

Read more about the Faculty of Medicine awards on our Norwegian website.

Invitation to Research Infrastructure Network Meeting

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to invite you to our first digital gathering for the informal Research Infrastructure Network at the University of Bergen.

The network is initiated by a core group of three persons at different faculties (Hiwa Målen/SVFA, Susanna Pakkasmaa/MATNAT & Jorunn Viken/PSYKF), to share experiences, information, best practices and the like, and the potential members will be people working hands-on with research infrastructures.

Please see the agenda for our first digital gathering, that will take place on Tuesday 19 May, between 13:00-14:30.

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This week`s employee – Kadir Madissoo

Very nice to be in this week’s K2-nytt, thank you Tonje!

I graduated in gene technology from the University of Tartu, Estonia in 2011.

In 2012 I started working as a technician at the Bergen gynecologic cancer research group headed by Professor Helga Salvesen and am now senior technician in the same group with Professor Camilla Krakstad.

I am responsible for the daily running of the research laboratory at The Women’s Clinic as well as the Bergen Gyn. Cancer Biobank, which currently stores samples from over five thousand patients.

I work with different molecular biological methods and have contributed to many research projects, both at a national and international level. My administrative tasks include ordering, training of new colleagues and HSE.

As one of the safety representatives at K2 I am very pleased that there is a common platform within the department where we can discuss problems and challenges to make the working day better for everyone.

The group I work in has always been very much engaged in research into gynecological cancer. It is a great pleasure to work with people who have such a great motivation and enthusiasm. Our goal to find effective treatments for our cancer patients and is driving factor of my work.

It is always busy at The Women’s Clinic, with many exciting challenges and I appreciate the unique and continued cooperation between K2 and the different Helse-Bergen departments.

Take care of each other, especially in these Corona times and remember to appreciate your fellow co-workers!

Thank you!


Home office – Mona Synnøve Nilsen

I have been a PhD student at the Hormone laboratory research group since May 2018 and investigate the metabolism of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) in obesity and insulin resistance. My research project is based on performing much lab work experiments, and it is not possible to do lab work at home. I have therefore postponed some lab experiments. I also have 25 % duty work to my PhD position and I am teaching bachelor students in nutritional biochemistry. Some days before the university closed, I was preparing a lab course for the students. The lab course had to be canceled. I also planned to attend research conferences before the summer, but these meetings are also canceled due of the coronavirus.

It has been a bit challenging to work from home, but I have managed to find solutions. I have taken an extra PC monitor home from work and my home office is at the biggest table in my apartment. Lately, I have been able to work with my paper that are going to be resubmitted soon. I have also completed my midway evaluation on Teams.

I think it is important that we hold on to the daily routines, maintain regular (digital) meetings with your colleagues and maybe go for a walk during the day. I hope things will get back to normal soon.

New publications

Here are recent publications with contributions from K2 based on last week’s search on PubMed (and optionally articles that have not been included in previous lists). This time the list includes in total 12 recent publications. The entries appear in the order they were received from NCBI. If you have publications that are not included in this or previous lists, please send the references to Oda Barth Vedøy.

Continue reading

The corona virus epidemics – a new phase

Up till now, the government has had a strategy to knock down the corona virus. The spread of the infection is now under control, and yesterday the government announced that they are now switching to a control strategy. The goal is still the same as before, that our health service should have the capacity to help everyone who needs it, those with coronary illness and those with other illnesses. This means that businesses and activities must still take infection control measures when they open up.

In recent weeks, K2 has opened something up – from only allowing exceptions for critical functions to exceptions essential for those completing a degree in 2020 or to generate preliminary data for research applications or particularly costly or critical experiments. At the time of writing, we do not know how much of our activity K2 can open in the next few weeks. The government proposes that distance education should continue to be the norm after May 11, and those in need of collective travel to work should still have a home office. Presently, we do not know whether there will be new reliefs for the laboratories. When we have received new guidance from the Faculty, we will announce the new guidelines through the research group leaders.

Of course, there is great eagerness to get back to normal life at K2. I’m very happy about that. But it is important to remember that the ongoing opening up can give the impression that the outbreak of the virus is about to go over. Unfortunately, it is not. As we gradually reduce the restrictions, it requires that we still keep control of the infection. At K2, we must continue with the simple measures that we know is working and have few negative consequences: be careful about hand washing and cough hygiene, keep at least one meter distance, and stay home when you are sick.

Enjoy the (hopefully corona-free) weekend!


Working environment survey: How are you?

Dear Colleague,

Working from home can be challenging and we wonder how you are doing. We have therefore prepared a simple survey to get some insight into ​​how you feel and what your work situation is like. The survey is anonymous and therefore we will not be able to have any individual follow-up based on the information in the form. If you need follow-up, I urge you to contact your nearest manager, safety representative or corporate health service.

Thank you for taking the time to give your input. Deadline 14th May.

English form: