Last Friday I was delighted to welcome our new doctors and jubilee doctors as well as colleagues from our university, families and guests to this autumn’s conferment ceremony in Stockholm City Hall.

Hats on! Photo: Erik Cronberg

Becoming a doctor at Karolinska Institutet and receiving a hat and diploma in the Blue Hall is a conclusion of many years of diligent work. It is a conclusion of a time of trials and tribulations, of failed experiments and – every so often – of ideas that led nowhere. But it is also the conclusion of a fascinating journey. As I pointed out in my speech, step by step our new doctors have built a solid edifice of knowledge and wisdom that will last a lifetime.

Statistics tells us that nearly half of all scientific publications from KI are authored or co-authored by our doctoral students, and our doctoral students are significantly involved in most of our international collaborations. Simply put, the doctoral students are an invaluable part of our university. Today about 25 percent of our students, nearly 2 300, are pursuing doctoral degrees. In fact, of all doctoral students in medicine, pharmacy and health sciences in Sweden, 45 percent are studying at KI.

Exit polls shows that over 90 percent of KI’s doctoral students are satisfied with their doctoral education at KI. This is fine and attests to the quality of our educational programs. But we must shy away from complacency. International competition is fierce and we should strive to become even better.

Happy conferment ceremony. Photo: Erik Cronberg

We have just initiated our work on KI’s new strategy plan with 2030 as its time horizon. My vision is that KI by 2030 is seen as a sterling example of a university that recognizes and builds on the competence and perspectives of its doctoral students. My vision is that KI by 2030 will be held in high esteem internationally as a university that spearheads new and innovative practices for PhD training, with due emphasis on social responsibility and ethical preparedness.

As we look ahead and as we start working on our new strategy plan to realize this vision, I thank our new doctors. By building competence and carrying out excellent research they have contributed to Karolinska Institutet and to the society at large. I extend my congratulations and best wishes for their future career.

More on KI News.

Together with the Rector at the Università del Piemonte Orientale, Italy and the Rector at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, I as the Vice-Chancellor at Karolinska Institutet, have written a letter to Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, Head of the Judiciary, Iran.

We express our deepest concern over the detention of Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali who could now face the death penalty.

Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian national and resident of Sweden, was arrested without a warrant by Iranian Ministry of Intelligence officials while traveling to Iran to attend workshops in disaster medicine at universities in Tehran and Shiraz. He has been detained in Tehran’s Evin prison for approximately 16 months for alleged “collaboration with a hostile government” and “acting against national security.” During the first seven months of captivity, he was threatened with the death penalty and he was denied a lawyer. On Saturday October 21st, Ahmadreza has been sentenced to death. The court verdict, which was shown to one of the lawyers, states that Ahmadreza Djalali worked with the Israeli government, who subsequently helped him obtain his residency permit in Sweden.

A highly respected scientist

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. Since 1997 till 2007, Dr. Djalali was working in Iran in the field of natural and technological disaster management, as a researcher, lecturer and planner. His working place was the ministry of health and then he moved to the natural disaster research Institute. In 2008, Dr. Djalali started studying for his PhD at Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm, Sweden) and obtained a masters degree in Disaster Medicine (EMDM) from the Università del Piemonte Orientale (Vercelli, Italy) and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Brussels, Belgium). From 2012 to 2016, he was a post-doc fellow at the Research Center in Emergency and Disaster Medicine (CRIMEDIM) of the Università del Piemonte Orientale and was academically affiliated with Karolinska Institutet and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He coordinated various training and research programs, from which 3 projects were granted by the EU Research Commission. These 3 projects were relevant to health systems, in the area of crisis management, education, counter-terrorism and CBRNE, of EU countries, e.g. Italy, Spain, France, UK, Germany, Sweden, etc. In parallel, he retained academic and operational cooperation with Iranian University, and research centers through contributing in crisis management and passive defense programs, all public and unclassified from security aspects. In all matters he has always been a proud example for Iran, spoke highly of his heritage and served Iran as an international example of excellence in research, someone Iran should be extremely proud of.

Dr. Djalali 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. He has authored more than 45 publications. Dr. Djalali is known by his colleagues and students to be very respectful of his native home, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and one of his aims was to increase the understanding and shared relationship between the country where he lived and the work he did with other countries in the region in fostering excellence in the development of Emergency and Disaster Medicine and research applied to humanitarian assistance.

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, and has been denied proper access to legal counsel and due process.

Right to freedom of expression

We, Karolinska Institutet, the Università del Piemonte Orientale and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, would like to express our deepest concern over the detention of Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali who could now face the death penalty. As of today, the evidentiary basis of his arrest remains undisclosed.

We, Karolinska Institutet, the Università del Piemonte Orientale and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 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. We are concerned that he has been targeted for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

We are also demanding that prosecution authorities ensure that Dr. Djalali has immediate access to a qualified health professional who can provide health care in compliance with medical ethics, including the principles of confidentiality, autonomy and informed consent.

We urge colleagues including medical, scientific and humanitarian organizations worldwide to join, support, and spread this appeal to ensure that Dr. Djalali’s case is properly adjudicated.

We believe it is vital that the international medical and scientific communities and their academic institutions defend the fundamental freedoms of researchers, especially Dr. Djalali, who has been sentenced to death in apparent retaliation for international scholarly collaboration within his field of study. This is critical to preserve the rights and freedoms of future generations of researchers and humanitarians in Iran and worldwide.

Moreover, 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.

Prof. Ole Petter Ottersen, Vice-Chancellor Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
Prof. Cesare Emanuel, Rector Università del Piemonte Orientale, Vercelli, Italy
Prof. Caroline Pauwels, Rector Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium

In English below:

Resultatet av Medarbetarundersökningen 2018 har landat. Glädjande nog med den höga svarsfrekvensen 80 procent (4297 av 5392 svarade). Det ger oss en bra grund för det fortsatta arbetet. För detta resultat är inte slutet, det är början. Det är nu vi ska arbeta vidare med en god arbetsmiljö på alla nivåer, på Karolinska Institutet som helhet, på institutioner, på avdelningar och på enheter.

Medarbetarundersökningen ger viktiga signaler. För Karolinska Institutet som helhet kan vi redan konstatera att vi behöver staka ut en tydlig riktning för vårt universitet. Det tar vi fasta på i arbetet med Strategi 2030 och genom att se över organisationen. Många medarbetare upplever nuvarande organisation som otydlig och har svårt att relatera till de övergripande målen för verksamheten. En tydlig strategi och en ändamålsenlig organisation är nödvändig för att skapa de bästa förutsättningarna för vår utbildning och vår forskning. Det ska vara klart för var och en vart vi är på väg, och hur vi ska nå dit!

Fler ambassadörer

Vi kan också konstatera att trots turbulensen kring de senaste årens kris, visar medarbetarundersökningen flera positiva resultat. Ett är att KI jämfört med 2014 års medarbetarundersökning, har ett högre värde när det gäller att rekommendera KI som arbetsplats. Även vid en jämförelse med andra lärosäten har KI många ”ambassadörer” som känner stolthet över verksamheten på den egna institutionen.

På en övergripande nivå pekar resultaten på att många upplever gott samarbete, engagemang och delaktighet i sina arbetsgrupper, viktiga faktorer för att känna arbetsglädje. Men vi kan inte slå oss till ro med detta. Vi ser också ökad tendens till högre belastning, stress och minskade möjligheter till återhämtning. Ett universitet som arbetar för att förbättra människors hälsa måste självklart även arbeta för en god hälsa inom den egna organisationen. Detta blir en uppgift för ledarskapet.

Långt till ledningen

På ett övergripande plan syns en positiv trend – många upplever att närmsta chef skapar förutsättningar och ger stöd för arbetet – men glappet till prefekterna och KI:s ledning upplevs alldeles för stort. I vår kommande strategi blir ett av våra mål att minska det upplevda avståndet, och det kan bara göras genom tydlighet, transparens och medinflytande, genom att skapa arbetsglädje.

Även likabehandling på arbetsplatsen får bra resultat i medarbetarundersökningen. Ännu viktigare blir det därför att fortsätta arbetet mot diskriminering och kränkande särbehandling, mobbning eller trakasserier: 200 av 4324 personer upplever att de själva har blivit utsatta för diskriminering. Det är lägre än genomsnittet för jämförbara branscher, men etiskt ansvar måste hela tiden vara ledord för Karolinska Institutet. Debatt, samtal och kritisk reflektion är nödvändiga för att människor i vår omgivning ska må bra och trivas. Bara genom en god arbetsmiljö och etisk medvetenhet om alla dessa frågor kan vi skapa bättre hälsa och en utbildning och forskning i internationell toppnivå.

In English:

Now we must continue to strive towards a good work environment

The results of the 2018 Staff Survey have arrived. Pleasingly enough, with a response level of 80% (4,297 of 5,392 responded). This provides us with a solid basis for our ongoing efforts. The results of the survey are not an end in themselves but rather a starting point. Now is the time to work diligently towards a good work environment on all levels, at Karolinska Institutet as a whole and in each department and division.

The Staff Survey conveys important signals. We can already state that, for Karolinska Institutet as a whole, we must set out a clear direction for our university. We will come to grips with this through the implementation of Strategy 2030 and by overhauling our organisation. Many staff members experience the current organisation as unclear and find it difficult to relate to its overall goals. A clear strategy and fit-for-purpose organisation are necessary to create the best possible conditions for our education and research programmes. No one should be in any doubt of our aims, nor how we intend to achieve them!

More ambassadors

We are also able to state that, despite the turbulence surrounding the recent crisis, the Staff Survey throws up several positives. One of these is the increased willingness in comparison to the 2014 survey to recommend KI as a workplace. Even in comparison to other educational institutes, KI has many ‘ambassadors’ who take pride in their own department’s activities.

On an overall level, results point towards a general feeling of healthy collaboration, engagement and participation in respondents’ own work groups – important factors when it comes to job satisfaction. However, we cannot allow ourselves to rest on our laurels. We also see an increasing tendency towards greater workloads, increased stress and reduced opportunities for recuperation. A university dedicated to improving people’s health must of course also work to maintain good health within its own organisation. This is a task for management.

Remoteness from management

On an overall level we see a positive trend in that many staff members feel that their immediate supervisor creates the necessary conditions and offers support for their work. However, heads of department and KI’s management are seen as far too remote. One of the goals of our future strategy will be to reduce this perceived remoteness, something that can only be achieved through clarity, transparency and participation – by creating job satisfaction.

Equal treatment in the workplace also receives high marks in the Staff Survey. It is therefore even more important that we continue to work to prevent discrimination, victimisation, bullying and harassment: Of the respondents, 200 out of 4,324 have themselves experienced some form of discrimination. Even if this is below average for comparable industries, ethical responsibility must always be our watchwords at Karolinska Institutet. Debate, discussion and critical reflection are vital if those around us are to feel good and thrive. Only through a good work environment and ethical awareness of all these issues can we create improved health and education and research at the highest international level.

I was very proud to kick off this morning’s seminar Global and Local Health – Legacy of Hans Rosling to share my views on the work of this outstanding scientist, teacher and communicator.

Hans Rosling.

I would like to start on a personal note.

Hans was the one who brought me into the realm of global health and who directed my attention to the stark and unacceptable health inequities in present day society. His work and thoughts provided much of the foundation of The Lancet-UiO commission on Global Governance for Health. This commission – which I led – was asked to identify the political determinants of health and to come up with suggestions for changes.

Now to Hans Rosling’s impact on the world at large.

Hans changed the way we think about the world and its development. He had this almost uncanny ability to inspire – not by glossing over inconvenient truths and sad facts – but by bringing them to the fore. I think that his optimism derived from his unwavering belief in the supremacy of truth and facts – in his belief that facts are inherently persuasive and will force decision makers to act, and to act wisely. Perhaps not today, perhaps not tomorrow, but eventually.

Groundbreaking lectures

By carefully unveiling the mechanisms of human and societal development – and by looking forward with optimism and an inquisitive mind – Hans was immensely popular among students. In 2012 I invited him to the University of Oslo to give the first lecture in a series on “The Global Citizen”.  His lecture was entitled “A fact based world view”. The queue of students wanting to attend extended several hundred meters across campus. All of a sudden our largest auditorium became too small.

Hans gave lectures that were groundbreaking in their ability to disseminate new knowledge and to question prevailing concepts. Hans was serial myth killer, no less.

Hans earned his PhD in 1986 and in 1990 was made associate professor of internal medicine at Uppsala University. He then taught courses about healthcare in developing countries until 1996, when he was made senior lecturer of international health at Karolinska Institutet. Rosling became professor of international health at KI three years later.

Hans was also one of the founders of the Swedish branch of Doctors Without Borders, and was voted into the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 2012.

When the US Magazine Foreign Policy listed the 100 thinkers whose ideas had shaped the world in 2009 – Rosling was number 96, and in 2012 he was included in Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

He gave hope for the future

In recent years Hans was a much sought-after speaker. He lectured at the World Economic Forum but also for new students at KI. And the students came first, just as he came first for the students.

But it is not his merits that he will be remembered for. First and foremost he gave hope for the future. Hans spoke about an interconnected world, a world where our destinies are intertwined. He described a global society that faces challenges that we never have seen before – in terms of demography, resource distribution, energy and climate. However, with facts and passion, he convinced us that there is progress in the world, after all.

Hans inspired us to reflect upon health in the broadest possible sense – how health relates to poverty, climate change, human rights, religious dialogue and governance. His message was that we are global citizens and that not everybody shoulders the responsibility that comes with it.

Hans’ sphere of influence extended globally. Together with his son and daughter-in-law he founded the Gapminder Foundation in order to promote global development through the greater use and understanding of social, economic and environmental statistics. When Hans spoke, the world listened. Statistics became alive and its message became compelling. Complex relationships between population growth, economy, and health suddenly became easy to understand when he spoke. When we left the auditorium we felt that we had a better understanding of the world. In fact, we – and I was certainly among this we – could easily feel ashamed when we realized that our perceptions about the world were not well founded on statistics and evidence.

This is exactly what an excellent lecturer should do: Identify embarrassing voids in our knowledge and world view and help fill in the facts we need.

A real humanist and altruist

Sweden’s and the world’s most famous professor of international health, Hans Rosling, lived a life under the shadow of his own serious disease. This did not stop him from working relentlessly toward his goal of improving health and the living conditions of humankind – a goal that resonates perfectly with the overall vision of KI.

Hans moved on the global scene with statistics and large numbers, but he did so with deep respect for the individual. He was a real humanist and altruist. I think he would give his full support to this quote by Martin Luther King: “Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman”.

Karolinska Institutet is now in the process of drawing up a new strategy plan. In our new strategy we will look far ahead, all the way to 2030. 2030 is also the time horizon of UN’s sustainability development goals. This is no coincidence, of course. By looking ahead to 2030 we will remind ourselves that KI’s vision – to contribute significantly to the improvement of human health – should be seen in the context of the world at large and with due attention to the wellbeing of future generations.

In short: KI must be more visible on the scene of global health and more attuned to the sustainability development goals. Our mission must be to work for better health, sustainable development, and a fair and tolerant society – in Stockholm, in Sweden, in the Nordic region, and in the world at large. By setting up these ambitions – and by realizing them – we are truly honoring the legacy of Hans Rosling.


In English below.

KI-ledningens institutionsbesök fortsatte förra veckan och ger värdefulla inspel till vårt arbete med Strategi 2030. Vid samtliga besök framkommer många både gemensamma och helt olika utmaningar för framtiden, som jag kommer att få anledning att återkomma till. Det är också fantastiskt inspirerande att möta alla medarbetare, se gärna en film från några av våra institutionsbesök.

Efter besöken på institutionen för laboratoriemedicin och Institutet för miljömedicin har vi nu även besökt institutionerna för folkhälsovetenskap, medicinsk biokemi och biofysik, klinisk neurovetenskap, medicinsk epidemiologi och biostatistik och fysiologi och farmakologi.

Forskargruppernas villkor och möjligheter står förstås i centrum för våra diskussioner på institutionerna, desto viktigare blir det att också lyfta engagemanget för utbildningen. Karolinska Institutet är inte bara ett forskningsinstitut utan ett fullvärdigt universitet där utbildning och forskning ska gynna varandra och samverka. I mötet med studenterna på olika kurser och program framträder ett brett engagemang. Läs mer om mitt möte med studenterna på institutionen för folkhälsovetenskap.

Träff med professorskollegiet

Något som redan är tydligt för mig är Karolinska Institutets behov av en mer långsiktig finansiering. Det blir uppenbart i mötet med forskarna, och det blev ett av diskussionsämnena även för torsdagens professorskollegium. Kollegiet träffas två gånger varje termin och alla KI:s professorer samt professorer emeriti bjuds in.

Diskussionen kom att handla om prioritering, organisation och finansiering där vi behöver säkerställa vår akademiska frihet ur ett långsiktigt perspektiv. I dag är vårt universitet beroende av extern och ofta kortsiktig finansiering vilket sätter den akademiska friheten under press.

Långsiktig strategi

Därför ska den nya strategin ha en tidshorisont som sträcker sig ända fram till 2030. Ett sådant långsiktigt perspektiv kräver av oss att vi tänker kreativt och nytt. Och ett långt tidsperspektiv kommer att rikta uppmärksamheten mot de yngre forskarnas karriärvägar och understryka betydelsen av forskarutbildningen och grundutbildningen. Att 2030 också är tidshorisonten för Förenta Nationernas ”Sustainable Development Goals” kommer att inspirera oss när vi tar oss an de globala utmaningarna.

Visiting CNS, institutionen för klinisk neurovetenskap.

Håkan Westerblad, FyFa, institutionen för fysiologi och farmakologi.

In English.

Long-term planning essential to academic freedom

Over the past week, KI’s management has continued its round of departmental visits, obtaining valuable input into our work on Strategy 2030. Each visit reveals many challenges to be addressed in the future, some common to all departments and others entirely unique, which I shall have reason to return to. It is also wonderfully inspiring to meet so many colleagues, so please take a moment to view a video on some of our departmental visits (above).

Following on from our visits to the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Institute of Environmental Medicine, we have now visited the Departments of Public Health Sciences, Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Clinical Neuroscience, Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Physiology and Pharmacology.

While the conditions and opportunities for research groups are of course central to our discussions with departments, it is increasingly important to highlight our commitment to education. Karolinska Institutet is not only a research institute but also a fully functioning university in which education and research must complement and benefit one another. In meetings with students on a range of courses and programmes, their broad engagement stands out. Learn more about my meetings with students at the Department of Public Health Sciences.

Meeting with the Professors’ Collegium

Something that has already become abundantly clear to me is Karolinska Institutet’s need for more long-term funding. This is obvious in meetings with researchers and was one of the topics for discussion at Thursday’s Professors’ Collegium. The Collegium meets twice each term and all KI professors and professors emeritus are invited to attend.
Our discussions covered prioritisation, organisation and financing in the interests of ensuring our academic freedom from a long-term perspective. Today, our university is dependent on external,often short-term, financing – something that places undue pressure on academic freedom.

Long-term strategy

This is why our new strategy will have a time horizon extending all the way to 2030. The implementation of such a long-term strategy will make demands on our creativity and innovation. A long-term perspective will also draw attention to the career paths of our younger researchers and underline the importance of postdoctoral and undergraduate education. That 2030 is also the time horizon for the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals will only serve to inspire us as we take on these global challenges.

In English below.

Det finns ett behov av att ställa sig frågan: vem har ansvar för att förverkliga de ambitiösa globala hållbarhetsmål som Förenta Nationerna slår fast i 2030 års agenda? Jag talar om FN:s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG:s).

Min övertygelse är att vi alla har ett ansvar. Därför gladde det mig särskilt att dagens institutionsbesök som gick till Institutet för miljömedicin, IMM, kom att handla bland annat om hållbarhetsmålen. Prefekten, professor Ulla Stenius, slog genast fast: ”Vi bör fokusera på prevention, vi kan inte vänta på att folk blir sjuka”. Hon syftade särskilt på det tredje hållbarhetsmålet, att säkerställa hälsosamma liv och främja välbefinnande för alla i alla åldrar.

Studenterna, morgondagens ledare

Universitetens engagemang för att se till att resan mot hållbar utveckling blir framgångsrik, är precis vad som krävs. Under besöket på IMM presenterades forskning som handlar om hur miljö och levnadsvanor påverkar människans hälsa – riskbedömning och prevention inom forskningsområden som exempelvis luftkvalitet och buller, arbetsmiljö, astma och allergi, och nanotoxikologi.

Vad som är lika viktigt är utbildningen, och IMM tar ett stort ansvar. Här utbildas studenter på grund-, avancerad och forskarnivå inom epidemiologi, miljömedicin och toxikologi. Utbildning är grogrunden för kommande generationer, morgondagens ledare. Vi ska stärka kvaliteten i utbildningen och incitamenten för alla våra lärare och utbildningsledare, och det kräver av oss att vi tänker nytt. Vi måste kunna attrahera och rekrytera studenter från hela världen.

Jämställdhet bör avspeglas bland professorerna

Det var även glädjande att träffa så många av IMM:s yngre forskare, de flesta kvinnor, och höra om deras projekt. Låt oss i det kommande arbetet Strategi 2030 med kraft skapa förutsättningar för tydliga karriärvägar för juniora forskare. Vi måste hålla fast vid jämställdhetsmålet så att en rättvis balans mellan kvinnor och män blir tydlig också bland våra framtida professorer.


Jag vill här ta tillfället i akt att framföra mina varmaste gratulationer till årets tre Nobelpristagare i fysiologi eller medicin. I dag beslutade Nobelförsamlingen vid Karolinska Institutet att priset ska delas lika mellan Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash och Michael W. Young för deras upptäckter av molekylära mekanismer som styr cirkadisk rytm. Jag ser fram emot Nobelföreläsningarna i december.

Läs mer om Nobelpristagarna i fysiologi eller medicin.

In English.

We all have a responsibility for the sustainability goals

We need to ask ourselves the question: who is responsible for realising the ambitious global sustainability goals that the United Nations has set in its 2030 Agenda? I am referring to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

I am convinced that we all have a responsibility. I was therefore particularly happy that my department visit today, which took me to the Institute of Environmental Medicine (IMM), among other things took up the topic of the sustainability goals. Professor Ulla Stenius, who heads the institute, stated immediately that “We should focus on prevention, we can’t wait until people fall ill”. She was referring in particular to the third sustainability goal of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all people of all ages.

The students, tomorrow’s leaders

The universities’ commitment to ensuring that the journey towards sustainable development is successful is exactly what is needed. During my visit to IMM I was shown research that looks at how environment and living habits affect people’s health – risk assessment and prevention in fields of research such as air quality and noise, work environment, asthma and allergies, and nanotoxicology.

What is equally important is education and IMM takes great responsibility. Here students are educated at foundation, advanced and post-graduate level in epidemiology, environmental medicine and toxicology. Education is the foundation for future generations, tomorrow’s leaders. We are going to strengthen the quality of our education and the incentives for all our teachers and programme and course directors and this requires that we think in new ways. We must be able to attract and recruit students from all around the world.

Equality should be reflected among our professors

It was also gratifying to meet so many of IMM’s younger researchers, most of them women, and hear about their projects. Let us in our coming work on Strategy 2030 put energy into creating prerequisites for clearly defined career paths for junior researchers. We need to uphold our equality target so that we achieve a fair and distinct balance also among our future professors.


I would here like to take the opportunity to express my warmest congratulations to this year’s three Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine. Today the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet decided to award the prize to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young for their discovery of molecular mechanisms that control circadian rhythm. I am looking forward to the Nobel lectures in December.

Read more about this year’s Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine.

In English below.

Tillsammans med Karolinska Institutets ledning, prorektor och universitetsdirektör, har jag nu påbörjat turnén som ska gå till samtliga institutioner.
Fredagens besök, det allra första, gick till institutionen för laboratoriemedicin, Labmed, på campus Flemingsberg. Här tonade bilden fram av engagerade lärare och forskare som hela tiden arbetar nära kliniken, ofta med kombinationstjänster på KI och Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset.

Medarbetarna på Labmed först ut i institutionsturnén. Foto: Ulf Sirborn

Här byggs framtidens laboratorium

I samarbetsytorna mellan oss finns alla möjligheter för translationsforskningen, med närheten till patienterna i både utbildning och forskning. Här har vi också utmaningar: bland annat att skapa bättre struktur för att universitetets och sjukhussidans samarbete ska fungera optimalt.

På vårt campus Flemingsberg ser vi fantastisk infrastruktur växa fram. Framtidens laboratorium inkluderar ombyggnationer av Alfred Nobels Allé 8 (ANA8) och nya forskningshuset Neo. Miljöerna ska stimulera till kreativa möten och anpassas till verksamheternas utveckling. Det skapar helt nya möjligheter för forskning och utbildning i samverkan med vården – en laborativ lärandemiljö, samutnyttjande av avancerad utrustning för forskargrupper och ny behandling för patienterna.

Lärandets utveckling fråga för strategin

Tillsammans med KI-medarbetarna på Labmed diskuterade vi många fler utmaningar att arbeta med framöver. Inte minst för utbildningen där våra utbildningsledare lägger ner stort arbete för att förbättra och utveckla lärandet, till gagn för våra kurser och program, för studenterna och hälso- och sjukvården. Men många gånger saknas den incitamentsstruktur som belönar utbildningsledare för deras ansträngningar. Studenter förtjänar en evidensbaserad utbildning och de allra bästa forskarna och lärarna som utbildar dem. Lärarna behöver därför karriärvägar som är framkomliga. Utveckling av medicinsk pedagogik, av lärande och digitalisering blir viktiga komponenter i arbetet med vår nästa strategi – Strategi 2030.

Jag ser fram emot de kommande 21 institutionsbesöken för fler tankar och inspel som kan föra Karolinska Institutet framåt.

In English.

The visits give us valuable input to Strategy 2030

Together with Karolinska Institutet’s management team, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor and the University Director, I have now begun a tour of the university that will take in all departments.
Friday’s visit, the very first, was to the Department of Laboratory Medicine (Labmed) on the Flemingsberg campus. Here I got a picture of committed teachers and researchers who work in close proximity to the clinic at all times, often combining duties at KI and Karolinska University Hospital.

Maric Björklund och Elin Sundqvist at Labmed, first department to be visited on the Vice-Chancellor’s tour. Photo: Ulf Sirborn

The laboratory of the future takes shape

In the collaboration interfaces between us there are endless opportunities for translational research with proximity to patients in both education and research. Here we also face challenges, among other things to create a better structure for the collaboration between the university and the hospital to function optimally.

On our Flemingsberg campus we can see a fantastic infrastructure taking shape. The laboratory of the future includes conversions of Alfred Nobels Allé 8 (ANA8) and the new Neo research building. The environments are intended to stimulate creative encounters and will be adapted to the development of the activities housed there. Entirely new opportunities are being created for research and education in interaction with healthcare – a laborative learning environment, co-utilisation of advanced equipment for research groups and new treatments for the patients.

Development of learning a question for the strategy

Together with the KI people at Labmed we discussed many more issues to tackle in the near future. Not least as regards education, where our education managers work hard to improve and develop learning, to the benefit of our courses and programmes, of the students and of health and medical care. But the structure of incentives that rewards education managers for their efforts is often lacking. Students deserve evidence-based education and the very best researchers and teachers to educate them. The teachers therefore need career paths that are accessible. Development of medical education methods, of learning and of digitisation are important components in our work on our next strategy – Strategy 2030.

I am looking forward to the coming 21 department visits to get more ideas and input that can carry Karolinska Institutet forward.

In English below.

I dag deltog jag vid nyckelöverlämningen till den nya forskningsbyggnaden Bioclinicum i Solna. Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset och Stockholms läns landsting fick ta emot nyckeln till den nya forskningsbyggnaden för att förbereda sig för öppningen i januari 2018.

Linda Lindskog, Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset och Stanley Holsteiner, Nya Karolinska Solna-projektet med nyckeln till Bioclinicum. Foto: Carin Tellström

Här skapas nu ett forsknings- och utbildningskluster mellan Karolinska Institutet och Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset, där cirka 100 forskningsgrupper kommer att arbeta under samma tak. Här får vi den närhet mellan forskningen och patienterna som är helt avgörande för ny behandling, diagnos och prevention.

Grundforskning och klinisk forskning binds samman

En fysisk bro kommer att binda samman Bioclinicum med forskningslaboratoriet Biomedicum där grundforskning kommer att bedrivas på Karolinska Institutets sida av Solnavägen. Bron blir också symbolisk för samverkan och för en infrastruktur i världsklass. Den kliniska forskningen hävdar sig redan mycket väl på Karolinska Institutet och kommer nu att kunna förstärkas ytterligare inom ett antal områden. Ett kliniskt träningscenter, KTC, ger personalen träning i simulerade vårdmiljöer med den senaste teknik- och kommunikationsutrustningen.

Tjäna patienterna på etisk grund

Det som vi måste vara observanta på är att patientflödena på sjukhuset verkligen kopplas till forskningen och utbildningen. Utan denna närhet, som är förutsättningen för den translationella forskningen, kan vi inte få den interaktion mellan forskning, utbildning och vård som till sist ska komma patienterna till del.

Bioclinicum erbjuder enorma möjligheter för translationsforskningen. Vårt uppdrag blir att använda de nya teknologierna för genombrott inom medicinsk behandling, men inte utan att diskutera de etiska frågeställningar som detta medför. När avancerad teknologi ska möta och tjäna patienterna och samhället är det viktigt att ständigt reflektera över vår värdegrund. Då kan vi lyfta svensk livsvetenskap och hälsoforskning till nya höjder.

Maria Ankarcrona, universitetslektor och forskare vid KI stod för en av presentationerna vid nyckelöverlämningen. Foto: Carin Tellström

Ole Petter Ottersen vid måndagens nyckelöverlämning. Foto: Carin Tellström

In English:

The key to success presupposes proximity to the patients

Today I participated at the handing over of the keys to the new research building Bioclinicum i Solna. Karolinska University Hospital and Stockholm County Council received the keys to the research building to prepare for its opening in January 2018.

A new research and education cluster between Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital is being created here, where about 100 research groups will work under the same roof. This will give us the proximity between the research and the patients that is absolutely crucial for new treatment, diagnosis and prevention.

Basic research and clinical research are tied together

A physical bridge will link Bioclinicum with the Biomedicum research laboratory, where basic research will be carried on on Karolinska Institutet’s side of Solnavägen. The bridge will also be symbolic of interaction and of a world-class infrastructure. Clinical research already holds a very strong position at Karolinska Institutet and will now be able to be further strengthened in a number of areas. A clinical training centre, KTC, gives the staff training in simulated care environments with state-of-the-art technical and communication equipment.

Serves the patients on an ethical basis

What we have to keep an eye on is that the patient flows at the hospital are actually linked to the research and the education. Without this proximity, which is the prerequisite for the translational research, we cannot achieve the interaction between research, education and care that will ultimately benefit the patients.

Bioclinicum offers enormous opportunities for translational research. Our task will be to use the new technologies for breakthroughs in medical treatment, but not without discussing the ethical issues that this entails. When advanced technology is to meet and serve the patients and society, it is important to constantly bear our fundamental values in mind. Then we will be able to raise Swedish life science and health research to new heights.

In English below.

Som ny rektor vid Karolinska Institutet är en av mina viktigaste uppgifter att säkerställa att det finns både arbetsglädje och en god arbetskultur i vår organisation. Ett bra verktyg för att kunna göra det är den medarbetarundersökning som vi ber våra medarbetare att svara på under hösten. Startskottet gick den 20 september då undersökningen skickades ut, med frågor om arbetsklimat och ledarskap, och med frågor om medarbetarnas uppfattning om organisationen och visioner och mål för vårt universitet.

Karolinska Institutet har allt att vinna på att ständigt arbeta med och följa upp arbetsmiljöfrågorna. Den senaste medarbetarundersökningen gjordes 2014 och gav ett viktigt underlag till hur medarbetarna upplever såväl arbetsglädje som diskriminering och mobbning. Tre år är en lång tid och jag ser fram emot svaren i årets undersökning.

Kvalitet och trivsel hänger ihop

Det centrala är att KI ska kännetecknas av högsta kvalitet i alla delar av verksamheten. Engagemang och trivsel är avgörande för det – möjlighet till egenkontroll och självständighet i arbetet, ett ledarskap som uppmuntrar och inspirerar, och ett öppet klimat som välkomnar diskussion och utbyte av erfarenheter.

Det här är självklart en utmaning för akademin där medarbetare konkurrerar om finansiering och tjänster. Det är en utmaning också därför att trycket har blivit större från statsmakterna och samhället i stort på nya resultat och lösningar på kort sikt. Ett gott akademiskt ledarskap och en etisk medvetenhet som genomsyrar organisationen behövs som fast grund.

Resultatet viktigt för Strategi 2030

Resultatet från medarbetarundersökningen tar vi med oss i arbetet med Strategi 2030 där vi kommer att lägga särskilt stor vikt vid ett hållbart ledarskap. Därför hoppas jag att så många medarbetare som möjligt svarar på medarbetarundersökningen 2017.

In English:

I am looking forward to the results of our employee survey

As new vice-chancellor of Karolinska Institutet one of my most important tasks is to ensure that people in our organisation enjoy working here and that we have a sound work culture. An excellent tool for this is the employee survey that we ask our employees to fill in this autumn. This year’s survey began on 20 September when the questionnaire was sent out, containing questions about work climate and leadership and how our employees perceive the organisation and our university’s visions and goals.

Important basis for work environment matters

Karolinska Institutet has everything to gain from constantly working with and following up matters on the work environment. The most recent survey in 2014 provided important information about job satisfaction, health and about discrimination and bullying. Three years is a long time and I am looking forward to the results of this year’s survey.

The main objective is that KI should be characterised by the highest quality in everything we do. Commitment and enjoyment are crucial – possibilities for self-checking and independence in one’s work, leaders who encourage and inspire, and an open climate that welcomes discussion and exchange of experiences.

A challenge at a university

It goes without saying that this is a challenge in an academic surrounding where people compete for funding and appointments. It is also a challenge because of the increased pressure from the State and society at large to produce new results and solutions in the short term. A good academic leadership and ethical awareness that permeates the organisation are needed as a firm foundation.

We will take the results from the employee survey with us in our work on Strategy 2030. A sustainable academic leadership is particularly of great importance. I therefore hope that as many employees as possible will take part in the 2017 survey.

Last week I had the privilege to attend the symposium “Molecular Life Sciences” in celebration of the centennial of Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW). It all took place in Aula Magna at Stockholm University.

Professor Svante Pääbo in Aula Magna. Photo: Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse, Magnus Bergström

The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation has contributed to world-class research for 100 years. During the course of the day we listened to outstanding researchers from leading universities abroad and from our own universities here in Sweden.

Thanks to the foundation’s commitment over the past century Karolinska Institutet has been able to finance research centres, research projects and not least equipment for medical studies. Much of the funding has gone to life science. During the past few years alone, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation has invested approximately 2.5 billion SEK in this field.

Long term and flexible funding

External funding comes in different flavours. In my mind, the KAW foundation has identified a recipe that works and that should stand as a model for others to follow. The funding is long term and flexible, allowing researchers to freely test, develop and pursue their own ideas. Such a recipe is conducive to science breakthroughs, in stark contrast to short term funding that typically and inadvertently fosters incremental research. I also give my strong support to the Foundation’s uncompromising and unwavering attention to quality, engendered by a rigorous review process, input from an expert advisory board, and a close dialogue with the host institutions.

Benefits society beyond Swedish borders

In the first session of the symposium we were introduced to the 100 year history of the KAW foundation and learned that the Foundation was established “for the betterment of Sweden”. In hindsight we can safely say that the Foundation has benefitted society far beyond the Swedish borders. Research sponsored by KAW has brought Sweden to the fore. But excellent research also serves the world and the humanity at large.

To keep its leading international position Karolinska Institutet needs to ensure that its career paths are attractive to talented students and young researchers from our own country and abroad. In this perspective the Wallenberg Academy Fellows programme stands out as particularly important. Many of our researchers have been sponsored through this programme and I trust that many more will benefit from it in the years to come.

Fundamental research is required

It is with gratitude and appreciation, and with expectations of continued success, that I congratulate the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation on 100 years of nation building. Seen from the outside – and now from the inside – I realize how important the Foundation has been in bringing Sweden to the international forefront of fundamental research. While new insight has a value in itself, fundamental research is required to meet the enormous challenges that we are facing today, as a region, as a nation, and as a world.

Read more on Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation 100 years

Meet KI researcher Marie Carlén: “Funding from KAW gave the freedom to focus on complex research projects“

“Ledande forskare i livsvetenskap talade i Aula Magna“, symposium den 15 september i firandet av KAW 100 år.