Since this is my first editorial, I’ll start with a summary. The years since 2016 have brought major changes for the molecular biology environment. We have seen large turnover of personnel at all levels, and despite the employment of skilled and hard-working colleagues, we have periodically been severely understaffed. We saw hints of a new stability in the staff a few years ago, albeit with lower staffing than before. But then came the corona virus and further cuts. During this period, it has been very challenging to maintain both the course portfolios, and the bachelor’s and master’s degrees that are under MOL’s responsibility, despite focused work on adapting the course portfolio and working more efficiently with each course. Nevertheless, we have also done our job on the research side, by publishing studies and attracting external funding.
The new year started with tentatively good news; forecasts for BIO’s finances have taken a sharp jump of about 5 million in the right direction. An important factor in this, I am told, is that the externally financed activity is on the rise. Let’s thank those who have made it possible, and hope that we manage to maintain this going forward, despite the changes we are going through. Apropos of sometimes brutal changes: The economic gains from the consolidation of area are ahead of us, which gives reason for optimism. But it probably also causes more difficulties. As for the important buzzword streamlining, I have literally noted that from my old office to the coffee machine there were 58 steps; the corresponding figure from my new office is just 49 steps. Those who know my coffee habits will surely understand that this gives a clear and distinct increase in efficiency. I am writing this in spite of the danger of treading on a combustible topic.
With this as a backdrop, I would like to throw in a fire torch. The merger of MBI and BIO should mark a commitment to the molecular life sciences. Our own strategy plan also calls for more collaboration within BIO around molecular biology research and teaching. We also all know with great certainty that ventures where fresh funds and labor are supplied are difficult to envisage in today’s financial climate. As I see it, therefore, there is only one way to fulfill these goals. It is to see all molecular activity within BIO as one, regardless of subject group affiliation, and look for ways to condense efforts and resources in a way that can strengthen the subject area, both in terms of research and teaching. The results of such a process will be changes with regard to organisation, infrastructure, location of people and research groups, and distribution of teaching responsibilities, and should not be anticipated. This must be answered in a structured and open process that involves everyone who is affected. But it seems quite clear that if the institute does not take an active step to deal with the situation, we will see a further weakening of the field in the future, completely contrary to the intentions behind the institute merger and the institute’s recently adopted strategy. I therefore round off this leader by advocating that the institute initiate a process involving all the molecular biology-oriented environments at the institute, regardless of subject group affiliation, to map out what can and should be done to ensure that we have a sustainable and viable molecular biology research and teaching environment also in the future.