SLU news

Tove Fall is SLU’s Alumna of the Year 2021

Published: 12 February 2021
Tove Fall, SLU alumnus of the year 2021. Photo: Karin Bennmarker, SLU.

Tove Fall received the Degree of Master of Science in Veterinary Medicine from SLU in 2005, and in 2009 was awarded a doctorate at SLU. Today, Tove is a professor of molecular biology and deputy head of department at the Department of Medical Sciences at Uppsala University. She receives this award not least for her contribution to research on Covid-19.

“Being awarded the title SLU Alumna of the Year means a lot to me. Being a researcher who takes an active part in the public debate is not always easy, and all encouragement is welcome. To highlight someone like this also means highlighting important fields such as, in my case, veterinary medicine and epidemiology”, says Tove.

Her research focuses on the causes and consequences of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in humans and animals.

“We use molecular tools for large-scale measurements of different molecules, tiny substances, in blood, urine and feces. This enables us to see what substances are present in an individual and compare these to hundreds of thousands of samples from others and see links between manifestations of disease and lifestyle.”

During this last year, Tove has spent most of her time learning more about Covid-19.

“I’m currently involved in two major Covid-19 projects. One with Lund University where we’re doing an app study monitoring the number of people with Covid-19 symptoms in Sweden. The other project is in cooperation with Region Uppsala and is about finding smart ways of monitoring the spread of infection and improving testing and vaccination strategies”, Tove explains.

Tove started at SLU in 1998. Her aim then was to become a clinical veterinarian, but she changed her mind after doing a degree project on a hormonal disease in cats.

“Doing my degree project, I spent half a year working on the same problem. Really getting to know a subject like that suited me and my personality well. For me, it opened the door to a career in research”, says Tove.

I parallel with her Covid-19 research, Tove runs an EU-funded project on gut bacteria and their link to arteriosclerosis. The project is possible because of the recent rapid development in genetic engineering, allowing researchers to read the genetic code of materials and, with the help of databases, determine the bacteria that have been present in the material. Using different methods, Tove and her research team have mapped the entire gut flora of individuals, the molecules found in their blood and the degree of arteriosclerosis.

“We already have some exciting preliminary findings showing that some bacteria are more common in people with arteriosclerosis. These findings tell us what mechanisms are behind the formation of arteriosclerosis in an individual, who then runs a higher risk of stroke and cardiac arrest.”


The jury’s justification

During the corona pandemic, Tove Fall has appeared in media as a highly competent and trustworthy representative of her subject field, molecular epidemiology. Her wise words and ability to share knowledge in an easily understandable way have been important assets in Sweden’s fight against Covid-19.

Her competence and media appearances benefit SLU as they are clear evidence that an SLU education contributes to the public debate in a positive way, and to improved health in both humans and animals.