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Shanghai ranking: High ranking for GU in the life sciences

News: Aug 28, 2017

Now that the Shanghai ranking for the first time lists the world’s best universities in the field of life science, the University of Gothenburg does well, as number two in Sweden in the subjects of biological sciences and clinical medicine. The ranking results are seen as proof that GU is on the right path in the life sciences.

The Shanghai ranking comprises several broad subject rankings with a focus on science, life science, medicine and technology. The ranking uses selected indicators that assign a different number of points and significance for the placement on the list. Even if many people believe that the measurement method is imprecise, the Shanghai ranking is considered to be one of the most reliable rankings of the world’s universities.

The broad subject rankings have not yet been updated for 2017, but new more narrow subject rankings have recently been presented, which were not previously ranked. In life science and biological sciences, the University of Gothenburg ranks second in Sweden and 42nd in the world. Biological sciences comprises biochemistry, molecular biology, biophysics, cell biology, marine biology, microbiology and zoology, and spans several of the university’s departments and faculties.

An area of strength to count on

- The ranking is proof that we are on the right path. It shows that this is an area of strength to count on, not just from a Swedish, but also from a European perspective. The results will stimulate us to further deepen the cooperation over the department and faculty boundaries, with the goal of becoming an even better place for research in the area of biological sciences,” comments Anders Oldfors, Head of the Institute of Biomedicine, the researchers of which are active in several of the subjects included in the ranking’s area of biological sciences.


Claes Gustafsson, Professor of Medical Chemistry, especially eukaryote gene expression research, believes that the good cooperation between departments and across faculty boundaries within the university is an important success factor:
- We share equipment, a basic academic outlook and cooperate in everything large and small. It’s really an academic environment that has developed organically at all levels. Researchers from various life science subjects have sought each other out because there is often a genuine interest in collaborating and cooperating. The area covers many fields of science, but the questions we ask and the techniques we use are most often surprisingly similar. The difference between the research domains, such as cancer biology, virology, biophysics and marine biology is often smaller than one would think.

Life science gathering strength in Gothenburg

The University of Gothenburg does well in the rankings in other life science fields as well. Within clinical medicine, according to the list, it is only KI that is ahead of GU in Sweden, and we are ranked 45th in the world. Odontology at GU is leading in Sweden, and continues to have a strong international ranking at number 26. Within pharmacology, we rank third in Sweden, and end up at 51-75 internationally.

The university is now working to further strengthen the life sciences by gathering researchers in life sciences at Medicinareberget. Three departments in the Faculty of Science have begun a process to move to a new building that integrates them with the Sahlgrenska Academy.
- The high ranking is very pleasing. It confirms that life science activities in Gothenburg have become very successful. That we are now planning to gather in a new building at Medicinareberget means that Gothenburg is offering conditions to create a globally inspiring landmark for research and education in the fields of both medicine and life science,” says Göran Hilmersson, Professor of Organic Chemistry and Head of the Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology.

Soon, a pre-study will also be presented on Sahlgrenska Life, a collaborative project between academia, healthcare and business that can result in new research clusters in life sciences, and new buildings, in Gothenburg.

An imprecise measurement method

The ranking, the official name of which is actually the Academic Ranking of World Universities, was initially published by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, but is now published by the independent organization ShanghaiRanking Consultancy. The Shanghai ranking has been a success, but as always with rankings, the method that decides the placement in the ranking is discussed. The list is based on six indicators, including the number of former students and employees who were awarded a Nobel prize and other major awards within their field, the number of highly cited researchers, and the number of articles in Nature and Science.

- One single major scientific award or a single highly cited researcher can have major effects on the placement in the ranking since they were assigned such major significance when the list was created,” confirms Magnus MacHale-Gunnarsson, investigator at the Analysis and Teacher Education unit at the University of Gothenburg.

Read more about the Shanghai ranking

PHOTO: Johan Wingborg/GU (portrait)


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