Joachim Gullbo is awarded the Hjärnäpplet Innovation Prize


Joachim Gullbo, alumnus with a pharmacy degree from the Faculty of Pharmacy, receives the Uppsala University innovation prize Hjärnäpplet for his key role in the development of better drugs for cancer.

Joachim Gullbo, alumnus and winner of the Hjärnäpplet
Joachim Gullbo, alumnus and receiver of Hjärnäpplet

Hjärnäpplet 2021, Uppsala University's award for outstanding transference of knowledge resulting in an innovation, is awarded to Associate Professor Joachim Gullbo, alumnus of the Faculty of Pharmacy. Joachim Gullbo shares the award with Rolf Larsson and Peter Nygren, both professors at the Faculty of Medicine. The three are rewarded for their successful work for better drug treatment for cancer.

Gullbo, Larsson and Nygren are also co-founders of Oncopeptides AB, the company that was started to commercialise the results of their research on the substance melflufen, which can be used to treat multiple myeloma, a relatively rare form of cancer affecting the bone marrow.

The Hjärnäpplet innovation prize
The Hjärnäpplet innovation prize

At present, no curative treatment exists, and down the road many patients develop resistance to the therapies that are available. However, on 26 February renewed hope was aroused when the FDA - the US Food and Drug Administration - granted conditional approval for melflufen as part of the treatment of adult patients with relapsing or refractory multiple myeloma.

“That the FDA approves melflufen feels fantastic. Over twenty years have passed since I synthetically developed the molecule that today forms the basis of PEPAXTO®, a peptide-linked cancer drug developed by Oncopeptides AB, the company we founded in 2000 which is now a fully integrated global biotech company. Today, I contribute part-time as a senior advisor, and it is an incredible journey to be part of,” states Joachim Gullbo.

Oncopeptides has recently applied for market approval for PEPAXTO® within the EU. The ambition is that this new drug will become an important part in the treatment of tens of thousands of patients annually.

“This year's innovation prize goes to three researchers who together and for a long time worked with the entire chain, from basic research to innovation and better cancer treatment for patients. In this way, Uppsala University wants to highlight their important contributions, says Coco Norén, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and chair of the Hjärnäpplet committee.


  • Education  Pharmacy degree 1996, Medical degree 2002
  • Profession  Medical Monitor at Theradex Oncology (US), Associate Professor, Uppsala University
  • Currently  Receiver of the Hjärnäpplet award 2021, Creator of the molecule that forms the basis of new cancer drug PEPAXTO®
  • Oncopeptides AB was founded by pharmacists Jochim Gullbo and Kristina Luthman, Uppsala University, and Hans Ehrson KI, oncologists Peter Nygren, UU, and Rolf Lewensohn, KI, and Rolf Larsson, clinical pharmacologist at UU.


text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Theradex Oncology, Uppsala University

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Last modified: 2022-11-08