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– Building a strong and sustainable Life science sector – together

Uppsala profile – Ulf Landegren

What would you say defines you? I’m not sure. But I enjoy inventing things. I think I probably early on had an idea that I would be a scientist, but I think that was based on a misunderstanding that science is about inventing things as opposed to finding out what nature is like. So I think the possibility of creating something that didn’t exist before and seeing it applied, that’s driving for us.

Are there any other events that have shaped you into who you are? Well, I think there’s a number of them. What I often describe is the fact that when I left high school, in Sweden, I had an unfinished love affair with a girl who got a job at Ultuna at the Agricultural High School. And so I got a job there to pursue her unsuccessfully.

I was working as an assistant to a technician, but the technician did not exist. And the person who ran the lab didn’t run the lab, he was interested in teaching. So I had a lab to myself when I was 19.

I was extremely naive. Since I had no formal training, I reinvented lots of wheels there too, and tried things that people had already shown couldn’t work, or that already worked in other people’s hands.

But it was a fantastic opportunity, and I really enjoyed myself. I worked day and night, and went there Saturdays and Sundays if I had some idea of something to try out.

What would you say is your way of handling setbacks? In my time at Caltech, there was a long streak of setbacks. I had a fantastic series of failures, which probably would have killed most scientists at this stage of the game, the way careers are constructed now.

After three years of working day and night, I had accomplished exactly nothing. When I think back, I think I wasn’t so tolerant for setbacks. That was extremely stressful. Because of the combination of unlimited opportunities, I had all the money in the world in the very rich lab and expertise in all areas, and no particular direction to go. Everything was possible.

Nothing was more likely than anything else. So I went off in a number of different directions, and several of them turned out to be quite useful but not in my hands because I wasn’t able to pursue them all. But one of them I stuck with this business of ligating oligos as a way of detecting things. And that’s become a theme that has turned out to be quite successful.


– Building a strong and sustainable Life science sector – together

Company representatives from the prosperous Life science industry, will share their journey, success strategies and examples concerning entrepreneurship. Business leaders, researchers, marketers, economists, business developers and other experts jointly describe the environment their companies operate in, what drives them and what challenges they face.

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