Kerstin Lindblad-Toh receives major award from Swedish Research Council

Paul Goldsmith, March 31st, 2014
  • Broad scientific director of vertebrate genome biology Kerstin Lindblad-Toh
    was one of nine researchers selected to receive Distinguished Professor
    Grant from the Swedish Research Council.

This week, Broad scientific director of vertebrate genome biology Kerstin Lindblad-Toh became one of the first recipients of a new long-term research grant from the Swedish Research Council. The program, known as Grants for Distinguished Professors, provides Swedish scientists with 10 years of flexible funding to support ambitious, long-term projects. Lindblad-Toh is one of only nine researchers selected to receive the inaugural award.

Lindblad-Toh, who also serves as a professor in comparative genomics at Uppsala University in Sweden and co-directs the Science for Life Laboratory Uppsala, specializes in the mapping and analysis of vertebrate genomes. Her research, both at the Broad and at Uppsala, has included mapping the genomes of more than 30 mammalian species, as well as several other species, to better understand the human genome, evolution, and the roots of human disease. It was Lindblad-Toh’s ongoing work with canine disease genetics that provided the basis for her award-winning proposal.

“My research focuses on dog genetics to better understand human disease,” said Lindblad-Toh. “Dogs get the same diseases as humans and, because of the breed structure, there is enhancement of those disease genes—this is why when it comes to studying disease, dogs are just the best model ever. They get you to the answer quicker.”

Lindblad-Toh plans to use her grant funding to study disease genetics, including understanding the relevance of artificial and natural selection in dogs, and how regulatory variants – genetic changes that alter the expression levels of genes – contribute to disease, with the goal of one day translating her discoveries to the clinic.

“We have worked for 10 years to get to the point where mapping canine disease genes is easy,” said Lindblad-Toh. “Now we have 10 years of funding to take the next steps: to really understand the disease mechanisms, so that more specific treatment options can be employed and to translate our findings to human patients and to the clinic. This is very, very cool.”

To find out more about dog disease research at the Broad (including how your dog can help), visit:

To find out more about efforts to sequence other mammalian genomes, visit: