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Top researcher 'too old' to work in Sweden

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Top researcher 'too old' to work in Sweden
11:18 CEST+02:00
Award-winning professor Jan Åke Gustafsson of the world-renowned Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm is set to quit Sweden due to rules that force him to retire at 67.

With over forty years of cutting edge research and over 1100 scientific articles under his belt, Gustafsson is far from ready to slow down.

On Monday he was awarded the 2009 Fernströms Great Nordic Prize, a one million kronor ($146,000) award, for ground-breaking research in the area of nuclear receptors, research that stands to benefit millions of patients afflicted by a variety of diseases ranging from depression to prostate cancer.

Next summer, however, Gustafsson turns 67, an age at which Swedish law dictates that researchers must begin to cut back on their hours.

"I can't believe it," he told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

"It feels as though I still have much more to give."

Since January of this year, Gustafsson has devoted much of his time to establishing a new, $30 million researcher centre in the United States at the University of Houston in Texas.

And he doesn't expect his advancing age to be an issue for his colleagues in the United States.

"During the whole decision making process in Houston, not a single person has asked how old I am," he told SvD.

"It's irrelevant there. The only thing that counts is competence."

In the years to come, Gustafsson hopes to establish a scientific bridge between Karolinska Institutet and the University of Houston, but will remain in the United States to avoid being "pushed to the side", a fate which awaits many Emeritus professors in Sweden after reaching a certain age.

"When I got the offer from Houston, it seemed like an offer I couldn't refuse. I would love to continue my research as long as I can, and to help ensure that the knowledge we attain is put to good use," he told the newspaper.

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