In English below.

På torsdagen fattade jag beslutet att utse professor Anders Ekbom till vetenskapligt ombud från och med den 1 mars 2018. I och med uppdraget blir Anders Ekbom även ordförande i Karolinska Institutets etikråd.

Etikrådet vid Karolinska Institutet, som tidigare haft en rådgivande roll under rektor upplöstes i mars 2016. Nu ska ett nytt etikråd bildas med det huvudsakliga uppdraget att bidra till proaktiva diskussioner i komplexa etiska frågeställningar. Samtidigt plockas oredlighetsärenden bort från etikrådets bord, dessa ärenden hanteras genom annan handläggning.

Rådger i forskningsetiska frågor

Som vetenskapligt ombud får Anders Ekbom uppdraget att ge råd och vägledning till enskilda forskare eller forskargrupper i forskningsetiska och forskaretiska frågor. Det kan till exempel handla om att det råder oenighet om vilka som ska stå som medförfattare till en vetenskaplig artikel.

Det vetenskapliga ombudet ska även verka för att kunskapen om forskningsetiska koder, lagar, föreskrifter, regler och riktlinjer är god, informera om nya regler och viktigare principiella avgöranden för den vetenskapliga verksamheten samt varje år upprätta en rapport om sin verksamhet.

Etiken viktig för hög forskningskvalitet

Karolinska Institutets forskning ska kännetecknas av hög etisk kvalitet. Genom att inrätta ett vetenskapligt ombud tydliggör vi nu ambitionen att forskningsverksamheten ska hålla hög kvalitet och bedrivas enligt god forskningssed med beaktande av god forskningsetik och god forskaretik.

In English:

Scientific representative to provide ethical guidance

Last Thursday, I reached the decision to appoint Professor Anders Ekbom as scientific representative, beginning on 1 March 2018. As a result of the appointment, Anders Ekbom will also become chair of Karolinska Institutet’s Ethics Council.

Karolinska Institutet’s Ethics Council, which previously had an advisory role under the vice-chancellor, was dissolved in March 2016. A new Ethics Council will now be formed with the primary task of contributing to proactive discussions on complex ethical issues. At the same time, misconduct cases will no longer fall within the Ethics Council’s remit and will be dealt with through other procedures.

Advise on issues relating to research ethics

As scientific representative, Anders Ekbom will be tasked with offering advice and guidance to individual researchers or research groups on issues relating to research and researcher ethics. This may for example be a matter of disagreement regarding who should be named as a coauthor of a scientific article.

The scientific representative shall also work to ensure a good knowledge of codes of ethics for research – as well as applicable legislation, regulation, instructions and guidelines – and inform regarding new regulations and decisions of principle affecting the research organisation. The scientific representative shall also prepare an annual report on their activities.

Ethics important to achieving high-quality research

Karolinska Institutet’s research shall be characterised by a high level of ethical quality. By instituting a scientific representative, we are now clarifying our ambition to maintain a high-quality research organisation in which research is conducted in accordance with good practice and with consideration for good research and researcher ethics.


In English below

Utan våra medarbetare, forskare och studenter så vore Karolinska Institutet ingenting. Men man kan lika gärna vända på det och säga att forskningsinformationen är vår viktigaste tillgång. Det handlar inte bara om att skydda uppgifter från stöld – vi måste också kunna lita på att informationen är tillgänglig, korrekt och inte förvanskad.

Sista veckan i november 2017 utsattes Karolinska Institutets digitala system för 12 134 olika relevanta attacker – alltså intrångsförsök som gjordes där det faktiskt fanns en svaghet. Det är ett svindlande stort antal. Det stannar inte där. Under samma period upptäckte vår IT-avdelning 730 369 tillfällen när KI-datorer kom i kontakt med skadlig mjukvara. 6 276 webbläsare med dåligt uppdaterad säkerhet användes.

Lyssna på experterna

Det säger sig självt att vi aldrig kan skydda oss helt, och det finns ingen som kräver att medicinska specialister ska vara IT-säkerhetsexperter, det man måste kunna kräva är att vi alla lyssnar på dem som faktiskt är experter.

Det är klokt också ur ett egoistiskt perspektiv – det är lätt att föreställa sig hur det skulle kännas om flera års studier eller forskning bara försvann för att en laptop blir stulen.

Nya kraven gäller alla

Under våren implementeras GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) i hela EU. Det är en reglering som ersätter äldre – och föråldrad – lagstiftning som den svenska Personuppgiftslagen. Syftet är både att skydda enskilda individer och att skapa en EU-gemensam plattform för företag och organisationer. Vi kommer att höra mycket om GDPR, inte minst för att den kommer med hårda sanktionsavgifter för företag och organisationer som inte lever upp till den. Det åligger varje enskild medarbetare, forskare och student att hantera personuppgifter i enlighet med kraven i den nya lagstiftningen som träder i kraft den 25: maj.

Det är likadant här – vi kan inte alla bli experter på dataskyddslagstiftningen, men vi kan alla bli lite bättre. Under våren kommer GDPR-utbildningar i olika former att erbjudas på Karolinska Institutet, men det finns saker att göra redan nu. Ett bra första steg är att gå informationssäkerhetskursen som finns på vår webb. Den tar inte mer än cirka 30 minuter av din tid, och på köpet får du kunskaper om hur du kan skydda också din privata information.

In English:

Safeguard our most important asset!

Without our staff, researchers and students, Karolinska Institutet would be nothing. However, one could equally say that research data is our most precious asset. It is not simply a matter of protecting this data from theft – we must also be able to trust that this data is accessible, accurate and uncorrupted.

During the last week of November 2017, Karolinska Institutet’s digital systems were subjected to 12,134 different relevant attacks – that is, hacking attempts against actual points of weakness. This is a staggering number. It doesn’t end there. During the same period, our IT Department discovered 730,369 incidents during which KI computers came into contact with malicious software. 6,276 browsers were in use with inadequately updated security.

Listen to the experts

This in itself tells us that we can never protect ourselves fully, and nobody is demanding that clinical specialists become IT security experts but, what we must be able to demand is that all of us listen to those who actually are experts.

This is also wise from a more egotistical standpoint. It is easy to imagine how it would feel to lose years of studies or research when a laptop is stolen.

The new legislation concerns everybody

During the spring, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be implemented throughout the EU. This regulatory framework replaces older – and outdated – legislation such as the Swedish Personal Data Act. The purpose is both to protect the individual and to create a joint EU platform for companies and organisations. We will be hearing a great deal about GDPR, not least because it brings with it harsher penalties for companies and organisations that fail to live up to its requirements. It is the responsibility of every employee, researcher and student to process personal data in accordance with this new legislation, which enters into force on 25 May 2018.

As with IT security, we cannot all be experts on data protection legislation, but we can all improve to some degree. During the spring, Karolinska Institutet will be offering various forms of GDPR training but there are things that we can already be doing. A good first step is to attend our IT security course, which can be accessed via the website. This takes no more than 30 minutes of your time and will also provide you with knowledge about how to protect your personal data into the bargain.


In English below

Migrationsverket meddelar nu att de ändrar sin praxis som har lett till helt orimliga utvisningsbeslut av internationella studenter. Myndigheten vill minska behovet av kompletteringar och ge fler studenter en rimlig chans att kunna slutföra sina studier.

Karolinska Institutet och Medicinska Föreningen har uppmärksammat problemet. Några av våra internationella studenter har fått avslag på sina ansökningar om förlängt uppehållstillstånd för studier. Trots goda studieresultat och med endast en termins studier tvingas de lämna landet.

Ny praxis hjälper inte utvisade

Att praxis ändras från den 29 januari 2018 är förstås mycket glädjande. Men det påverkar dess värre inte de redan utvisade studenterna. Detta är ytterst beklagligt. Praxisändringen är visserligen ett litet steg i rätt riktning mot ett förändrat regelverk, men för våra studenter som utvisats behöver vi hitta andra lösningar – vi hoppas kunna ge dem en fullgod utbildning på distans deras sista termin vid Karolinska Institutet.

Borde vara en självklarhet

Att ge Sveriges internationellt rekryterade talanger en rimlig chans att avsluta sina studier kan tyckas vara en självklarhet, så låt oss nu hoppas att inga fler internationella studenter som satsat stora belopp på studier i Sverige drabbas. Sverige och Karolinska Institutet behöver sina internationella talanger!

University World News: ”Migration agency eases rule for international students”

SvD Debatt: ”Migrationsverket slänger ut studenter som följt reglerna”

In English

A small step in the right direction

The Swedish Migration Agency has now announced a change in their praxis as a result of the entirely unreasonable expulsion orders against international students. The Swedish Migration Agency wishes to reduce the need for supplementation and offer more students a reasonable opportunity to complete their studies.

Both Karolinska Institutet and Medicinska Föreningen have been vocal in highlighting this problem. Several of our international students have seen their applications for extended student residence permits rejected. Despite achieving good academic results, and at only one term’s notice, they have been forced to leave the country.

New praxis does not help expelled students

This change to praxis form 29 January 2018 is of course most pleasing. However, unfortunately this action does not affect those students who have already been expelled. This is extremely regrettable. Although this change to praxis is a small step in the right direction towards a reformed regulatory framework, the situation facing our expelled students demands that we find other solutions. We hope to be able to provide them with a satisfactory education through distance learning for their final term at Karolinska Institutet.

Should be self-evident

That we should provide Sweden’s internationally recruited talent with a reasonable chance of completing their studies seems self-evident, so let us hope that no more international students – individuals who have invested large sums in their studies in Sweden – need suffer. Sweden and Karolinska Institutet needs this international talent!


In English below.

Karolinska Institutet bidrar på ett avgörande sätt till att förbättra människors hälsa. Det gör vi både genom grundläggande forskning för att förstå biologiska mekanismer och genom mer patientnära forskning som tar fram nya behandlingsformer. Forskning om många stora sjukdomsområden behöver djurförsök för att få ny kunskap om hittills okända biologiska mekanismer. Det är en verksamhet som är strikt reglerad och som lyder under svenska lagar under ett gemensamt EU-ramverk.

Högsta standard

Under 2018 får försöksdjursverksamheten vid KI nya moderna lokaler för djurhållning och möjligheter att bedriva djurexperimentell forskning av högsta internationella standard. All försöksdjursverksamhet har under senare år organiserats och samlats inom Komparativ Medicin, KM.

Bildandet av KM var nödvändigt för att skapa en enhetlighet inom djurhållningen, rationalisera och modernisera verksamheten för att möta de ökande kraven som ställs via lagstiftning. Det gäller såväl utbildning av dem som sköter och använder djur, som djurens välfärd. Den nya KM-organisationen som utvecklats har skapat möjligheter men också initierat diskussioner på KI om hur djurverksamheten på bästa sätt ska bedrivas.

Översyn klar i juni

Därför gör vi nu en genomlysning av verksamheten för att ta vara på såväl KI-forskares som internationella experters synpunkter, allt för att den djurexperimentella forskningen ska vara framgångsrik på KI. En internationell expertgrupp kommer att möta KM:s och KI:s ledning samt en referensgrupp med KI-forskare för att utbyta erfarenheter, och för att utifrån alla aspekter diskutera hur KI ytterligare kan möta forskarnas behov och inflytande på verksamheten. Enligt beslut startar den internationella utvärderingen i början av februari.

Arbetet med översynen av KM:s organisation ska slutrapporteras i juni 2018.

In English:

International evaluation to meet the needs of researchers

Karolinska Institutet makes a decisive contribution towards improving public health by means of basic research to enable us to understand biological mechanisms and research that focuses on the patient, to allow the development of new treatment methods. Research into many of the major fields involving illness requires animal experiments to gain new knowledge of unknown biological mechanisms. Such experimentation is stringently governed by and subject to Swedish law, under one common EU framework.

Highest standard

In 2018, new and modern premises will be provided for animal experiments at KI. These will include facilities where animals can be kept and for animal experimentation research of the highest international standard. In recent years, all animal experimentation has been organised by and merged under Comparative Medicine (CM).

The establishment of CM was necessary in order to create uniformity related to keeping animals, and to rationalise and modernise operations so they are in compliance with the ever-increasing requirements laid down in legislation. This applies both to the education of the persons who care for and utilise the animals and to animal welfare. The new CM organisation developed has provided opportunities but also launched discussions at KI on how best to carry out animal experiments.

Review to be submitted in June

We are therefore currently carrying out a review of operations in order to safeguard the opinions of both KI’s researchers and international experts, aiming to ensure successful research involving animal experiments at KI. An international group of experts will meet CM’s and KI’s management in addition to a reference group of KI researchers to exchange experience and to comprehensively discuss how KI can take further measures to meet the needs of researchers and their impact on operations. It has been decided that the international evaluation will start in early February.

The final report on the review of the CM organisation will be submitted in June 2018.


In English below.

Med endast en termins studier kvar har några av Karolinska Institutets internationella studenter fått avslag på sina ansökningar om förlängt uppehållstillstånd för studier.

Migrationsverkets utvisningsbeslut lutar sig mot kravet om egna medel för försörjning. Enligt ett beslut i Migrationsdomstolen från år 2007 ska internationella studenter kunna påvisa att de har egna medel på banken som räcker till två års studier och uppehälle i Sverige. Det motsvarar en halv miljon svenska kronor eller mer. Detta är inte rimligt!

Beslut på gammal praxis

Utvisningsbesluten vilar på gammal praxis. För tio år sedan såg situationen annorlunda ut. Sedan dess har studieavgifter införts i Sverige för studenter från land utanför EU. Internationella studenter är ekonomiskt beroende av sina föräldrar och/eller andra närstående. De har sällan eller aldrig tillgång till studiemedel, något som svenska studenter oftast har. De internationella studenterna och deras familjer är väl medvetna om detta, och får stora ekonomiska åtaganden för studier i Sverige. Konsekvensen av utvisningsbesluten är att studierna lämnas oavslutade. Karolinska Institutet undersöker nu möjligheterna för studenter som tvingas lämna landet att kunna avsluta sina studier på distans.

Vi bör underlätta för studenterna

Som lärosäte delar vi Sveriges regerings ambition om ökad internationalisering. Vi hyser därför stora förhoppningar om att regelverket ändras. Sverige är ett litet land och vi är beroende av att attrahera internationella talanger. Syftet bör vara att underlätta för studenter från hela världen att kunna studera här. Utvisningsbesluten motverkar den ambitionen.

In English:

Deportation orders counteract internationalisation

With only one semester of study left, some of Karolinska Institutet’s international students have had their application for a residence permit extension rejected.

The Swedish Migration Agency’s deportation orders rest on the self-sufficiency requirement. According to a 2007 ruling by the Migration Court, international students must prove that they have sufficient funds in the bank to cover two years of study and subsistence in Sweden. This is equivalent to half a million or more kronor and is completely unreasonable!

Decision informed by former practice

Deportation orders are issued in accordance with former practice. Ten years ago, the situation was different. Since then, tuition fees have been introduced in Sweden for non-EU students. International students are financially dependent on their parents and/or families and rarely, if ever, have access to funding, unlike most of their Swedish peers. The international students and their families are well-aware of this and have to make considerable financial commitments for their studies in Sweden. The deportation orders mean that these students must therefore abandon their studies, so Karolinska Institutet is looking into possible ways for them to complete their studies at a distance.

Make it easier for international students

As a university, we share the Swedish government’s internationalisation ambitions, and so harbour hopes that the rules will change. Sweden is a small country and is dependent on being able to attract global talent, so our aim should be to make it easier for students from all over the world to study here. Such deportation orders thwart this ambition.

KI News: Master’s students at KI at risk of deportation


Early 2018, KI has launched its first global alumni chapter, KI Alumni China. Global alumni chapters are alumni networks based on geographical area. These regional networks in hub cities around the world provide a professional network for KI’s alumni who live and work outside of Sweden. I am also pleased to welcome KI’s first alumni ambassador to China, Claire Ye, who graduated from KI:s Master’s program in Bioentrepreneurship in 2012.

Global Alumni Chapter, China Launch. Photo: Erik Flyg

For KI, alumni networks are a vehicle for keeping in touch with our former students and researchers. As an international university, we build collaboration with universities and industry around the world, and our alumni can help initiate and facilitate these relationships.

Our recent visit to Hong Kong

These were also some of the topics discussed on our recent visit to Hong Kong and the Shenzhen region, China, with special focus on the need in the fields of higher education and health care and also on their investments in the development of medical technologies, medical imaging and personalized medicine.

KI is committed to actively contribute to the development of global health and health equity within our competence and resources.

Following the consolidation of the Ming Wai Lau Centre for Reparative Medicine (MWLC) in Hong Kong, our hope is that suitable conditions will prevail for extending our collaboration to other partners in the region.

A model for other universities

A year has passed since the inauguration of MWLC and I was happy to get a first impression of our Hong Kong site and to meet with the administration and the researchers of the centre in December 2017. The research programs and progress in the establishment of research teams are right on track. As a pioneer research centre MWLC is a model for other international universities that are interested in establishing themselves in the area.

During our recent visit, the importance of maintaining full academic freedom was brought up in several of the meetings we had. We were happy to find that we seem to share these values and that our staff in Hong Kong are working under the same academic principles as in Sweden.

Visiting the Ming Wai Lau Centre in December 2017.


In English below

2018 kommer att bli ett av de mest spännande åren i Karolinska Institutets historia. Då flyttar 60 procent av våra medarbetare och cirka 80 procent av den experimentella forskningen till nya lokaler. Under året öppnar flera nya byggnader för utbildning och forskning – forskningsbyggnaden Neo och Alfreds Nobels Allé 8 (ANA8) samt forskningslaboratorierna Biomedicum och Bioclinicum. Dessutom får försöksdjursverksamheten nya moderna lokaler och infrastruktur och här är det viktigt att säkerställa forskarnas inflytande i processen.

Stora förändringar väntar också vår viktigaste samarbetspartner Stockholms läns landsting, SLL. 2018 är nybyggnationen av Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset i Solna helt färdig. Den 7 februari invigs Akademiskt specialistcentrum med centrum för reumatologi, centrum för neurologi och centrum för diabetes inom Stockholms läns sjukvårdsområde, SLSO.

Försenad inflyttning i Bioclinicum

Strax innan helgerna kunde vi emellertid konstatera att den väntande inflyttningen i Bioclinicum i mitten av januari måste senareläggas. Självklart var det ett tråkigt besked för uppemot 900 forskare som lagt mycket tid och arbete för att förbereda flytten och som var beredda på en omstart i det nya forskningshuset på sjukhussidan efter årsskiftet. Förseningen påverkar både projekt och har gjort många besvikna men när nätverken inte kan garanteras – och framför allt inte heller patientsäkerheten – måste senareläggningen anses nödvändig. Översynen pågår nu under ledning av IT-direktörerna på SLL och Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset.

Den 10 januari kommer Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset att fatta beslut om att eventuellt sätta upp ett trådlöst nätverk, med begränsad kapacitet, med målsättningen att forskargrupperna ska kunna flytta in i Bioclinicum i månadsskiftet januari-februari. En sådan temporär lösning undersöks just nu av FoU-direktören i kontakt med forskarna.

Arbetsglädje och ny strategi

Min andra termin vid Karolinska Institutet har inletts. Vi står inför både stora utmaningar och fantastiska möjligheter. Nuvarande strategiplan löper fram till 2018. Under året ska vi utveckla en ny strategi med en tidshorisont som sträcker sig fram till 2030. Långsiktigheten ger oss incitament att tänka nytt för utbildning, karriärutveckling och kompetensförsörjning. Naturligtvis kommer vi även att fokusera på forskningsstrategi, inklusive internationalisering, samarbete med SLL och samverkan med näringslivet. Samtidigt är det ingen slump att tidsplanen för den strategin är densamma som för FN:s agenda 2030 för en hållbar utveckling. Som internationellt universitet har KI ett globalt ansvar och måste tydligt jobba för hållbarhetsmålen i såväl utbildning som forskning.

Med den energi och stora potential som finns på KI, som blev så tydlig för mig bland annat under höstterminens institutionsbesök, ser jag fram emot ett gott 2018. Jag önskar alla medarbetare och samarbetspartner och alla våra studenter ett år med stor arbetsglädje, entusiasm och nya framgångar.

In English:

2018 promises to be an exciting year for KI

During 2018, sixty percent our staff, and around eighty percent of our experimental research activities, will be moving into new premises, making 2018 one of the most exciting years in Karolinska Institutet’s history. Over the course of the year several new buildings will be opened for education and research – Neo and Alfred Nobels Allé 8 (ANA8) and Biomedicum and Bioclinicum. In addition, our laboratory animal facilities will be moving to new, modern premises with up-to-date infrastructure.

Major changes are also underway affecting our main partner, Stockholm County Council. During 2018, the construction of new Karolinska Universiy Hospital will be completed. On 7 February, the new academic specialist centres for rheumatology, neurology and diabetes within Healthcare Provision Stockholm County (SLSO) will be officially opened.

Move to Bioclinicum delayed

Just before the holidays, Karolinska University Hospital decided that the expected move to Bioclinicum in mid-January will have to be postponed. Naturally, this was an unfortunate piece of news for the almost 900 researchers who have invested a good deal of time and effort into preparing for the move, and who were ready to renew their efforts in the new research building on the hospital side after the new year. This delay will affect research and education and has come as a disappointment to us all. However, with no guarantee either of a functioning network or patient safety, this delay cannot be avoided. A review is underway under the leadership of Stockholm County Council’s and Karolinska University Hospital’s IT directors and it is our fervent hope that we will soon be advised of a new timetable for the upcoming move.

On 10 January, Karolinska University Hospital will decide on the possibility to set up a wireless network with limited capacity, with the aim that the research groups will be able to move into Bioclinicum in late January or early February. Such temporary solution is currently being investigated.

Job satisfaction and new strategy

My second semester at Karolinska Institutet has begun. We are facing both significant challenges and fantastic opportunities. KI’s current strategy plan expires in 2018 and, over the course of the year, we will be developing a new strategy with a time horizon stretching to 2030. Such a long time perspective encourages us to think innovatively with regard to education, career development and skills provision. Naturally, we will also be focusing on our research strategy, including internationalisation, collaboration with Stockholm County Council and cooperation with the private sector. At the same time, it is no coincidence that the timetable for our new strategy coincides with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As an international university, KI has a global responsibility and must be seen to embed the sustainability development goals in both education and research.

Looking forward to 2018 I wish our staff and partners and all our students, a year of job satisfaction, enthusiasm and new successes.


With Nobel Week behind us, a period during which the world’s attention is firmly on Stockholm and the year’s Nobel laureates, my own attention is now turning eastwards, towards Hong Kong. Together with Chair of the Board of Karolinska Institutet, Mikael Odenberg, I shall for the first time be visiting our overseas establishment – The Ming Wai Lau Centre for Reparative Medicine (MWLC).

Karolinska Institutet is engaged in many international partnerships within both research and education. In developing our next strategy (Strategy 2030), we are looking into the possible development of international hubs. International collaboration increases quality and is a prerequisite for connecting with other research and educational environments, from Scandinavia and Europe to the USA, Canada, South Africa and Uganda, and of course with the rapidly expanding scientific environments of Asia: India, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, China and Hong Kong.

A reinforcement of KI’s research

The Lau Centre is intended to be a reinforcement of KI’s research in the field of reparative medicine, as I stated in a blogpost earlier this semester. However, the matter of academic freedom is always a prioritised topic of discussion. I was very pleased when, in October, I received a letter (following up on my blogpost) from Hong Kong Chief Executive Ms Carrie Lam, assuring KI of Hong Kong’s respect for the autonomy and academic freedom of educational institutions.

During my visit to Hong Kong, I will be meeting colleagues and a number of stakeholders, with a particular focus on the science conducted at the Ming Wai Lau Centre.

I am looking forward to having the opportunity to explore the region’s scientific landscape and the activities conducted there, as well as to meeting staff members, learning about their projects and discussing the future prospects of our collaboration.

Five-day trip

The Ming Wai Lau Centre – which opened in October 2016 – has two nodes, one in Hong Kong and one in Stockholm. Also participating in the five-day trip will be deputy vice-chancellor for international affairs Maria Masucci, our international coordinator for China Katarina Drakenberg, and Marie Tell, administrative director at the Ming Wai Lau centre.

  • The programme begins on 15 December with an introduction to the MWLC in the context of Hong Kong’s international position in medical research.
  • On Saturday 16 December, I shall be joining the panel at The Hong Kong Summit of Global Health Leaders, on the theme “a new international scientificism along the Belt and Road”. The Belt and Road Initiative is described as a comprehensive infrastructure project that includes important health aspects aimed at linking 65 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. The conference is part of the 130th anniversary celebrations of the medical faculty at the University of Hong Kong.
  • On Monday 18 December, we will be visiting Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who took office on 1 July this year. Ms Lam has expressed her ambition to further develop Hong Kong’s role as a centre for innovation and technology, for example by working to attract more international universities to establish themselves in Hong Kong. Chief Executive Lam will be hosting a lunch for representatives of local universities and international universities visiting Hong Kong.
  • Monday will also see KI sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Hong Kong (HKU), an organisation with which we have collaborated for many years. The day will conclude with a meeting with Ming Wai Lau, whose 2015 donation made possible the establishment of KI’s first overseas hub – indeed, the first such establishment by any Swedish university.
  • On Tuesday 19 December, we will be paying our all-important visit to MWLC itself, where I will have the opportunity to inspect the organisation, meet with staff members, learn about their work, visit the laboratories and discuss the prospects for future research. Before leaving, we will be meeting with the management of Hong Kong Science Park, where MWLC is located.
  • On Wednesday 20 December, we will be visiting the city of Shenzhen and the HKU-Shenzhen Hospital, the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) and the National Biobank. We will also be meeting representatives of the city to learn of their vision for future developments.

Karolinska Institutet is a leading international medical university. We need to engage in academic dialogue and collaboration on a broad scale and not least in the rapidly developing scientific environments of South East Asia. The MWLC will help us secure a solid foothold in this interesting region.


Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali, who is held in Tehran since April 2016, and who is a prominent researcher in the field of disaster medicine, appealed last month against the death sentence received on 21 October 2017, after 19 months of imprisonment.

The facts suggest that Dr. Djalali has been sentenced to death for peacefully exercising his right to academic freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of assembly.

Together with the rectors in Piemonte and Brussels, and the Swedish Foreign Ministry, I am following the case closely. Our thoughts are with Dr. Djalali and his family.

Letter of deep concern

In late October, the rector of the University of Piemonte Orientale, the rector of Vrije University in Brussels and I sent a joint letter of deep concern to Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, Head of the Judiciary in Iran, over the detention of Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali.

We are calling for Djalali’s immediate release and speedy return to his family and employment unless he is charged with a recognizable and evidence-based criminal offence, in line with international law and standards.

Dr. Djalali, an Iranian national and resident of Sweden, was arrested without a warrant by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence while traveling to Iran to attend workshops in disaster medicine at universities in Tehran and Shiraz. He has now been detained in Tehran’s Evin prison for approximately 19 months.

The death penalty an act of violence

A physician and expert in disaster medicine, Dr. Djalali is a highly respected scientist who is well known and admired within the international community for his high quality research and teaching.

He has worked alongside researchers from all over the world to improve the operational capacity of hospitals in countries affected by disasters, terrorism and armed conflicts. One of his aims has been to increase understanding and build relationships between the country where he lived and his work with other countries in the region in order to foster excellence in emergency and disaster medicine and research related to humanitarian assistance.

All citizens are entitled to due process and a fair trial, and no citizen should be subjected to the death penalty. The death penalty is an act of violence that creates more violence and is in conflict with human dignity, human rights, a wealth of research, and all the values our universities stand for.

Amnesty International’s appeal for action.

 


It was truly a pleasure to join Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young yesterday during their Nobel lectures in Aula Medica. As always, there was not an empty seat in the hall when the Nobel laureates took us on a journey of their paradigm-shifting discoveries for which they earned this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

In my early career as a neuroscientist, I shared the common belief at the time that human circadian rhythms were controlled by the brain. Subsequent work – now honored by the Nobel Prize – has told us that this is far from true. Actually, the key to these rhythms lies in specific genes expressed by almost every living cell. The Nobel lectures laid out to us the molecular mechanisms that explain how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythms to the Earth’s revolutions. It is fascinating to realize that living cells couple their function to the mechanics of our solar system. In fact, as Rosbash told us, more than 50 percent of our >20 000 genes are expressed in a rhythmic fashion.

Science driven by passion

I was pleased to open these lectures as tradition bids. It is one of many events during Nobel week in Stockholm, crowned by the Nobel prize ceremony on 10 December. And it is not only a tradition; the lectures are inspiring for all attendees – students, researchers and international guests alike – and encourage us to consider groundbreaking discoveries yet to come.

When attending lectures of Nobel laureates I guess we all look for the “success factors” – those factors that we would like to emulate in our own working place and institutions. In my mind, this is one of most rewarding aspects of the Nobel lectures: they give us invaluable feedback on how we should support and encourage our own talents. In yesterday’s lectures, good mentorship, a collaborative attitude and uncompromising persistence were implicitly and explicitly brought to the fore as important success criteria, and we were reminded that luck and courage are key elements of any major achievements in the realm of basic research. And we must not forget that science is driven by this singular feature of the inquisitive mind: passion. It was clear that the awardees had passion in ample supply. So much so that one of the lecturers lamented the fact that the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster was not among this year’s laureates.

Watch the 2017 Nobel lectures.