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.


In English below.

Vi summerar nu KI-ledningens besök på institutionerna. Det har varit fantastiskt att besöka institutionsledningarna, medarbetare och studenter. Vi har tagit del av forskarpresentationer och undervisning och diskuterat vårt universitet öppet och konstruktivt, alla besök gav utrymme för diskussion. Jag ser även fram emot besöket på institutionen för kliniska vetenskaper, Danderyds sjukhus, som återstår. Besöken har gett många givande och viktiga medskick till Strategi 2030.

Jag har fått ett starkt intryck av ett universitet som på institutionerna skiljer sig åt både till uppdrag och sammansättning. Ändå är flera av de genomgående möjligheterna och utmaningarna universitetsövergripande: KI har engagerade och kompetenta medarbetare, vi har stark forskning och vi har ett starkt varumärke. Men som vi också har kunnat konstatera upplever många medarbetare nuvarande organisation som otydlig och har svårt att relatera till de övergripande målen för verksamheten.

Nu fortsätter arbetet med att gå från ord till handling och att staka ut den fortsatta vägen fram till en ny strategi. Här är det viktigt, vilket också framkommer i medskicken från institutionerna, att vi behöver skapa en tydlig process för våra visioner och mål, och förankra alla steg i organisationen, vilket vi kommer att få anledning att återkomma till.

När vi nu sammanfattar institutionsbesöken påminns jag om allt från möten med studenter till besök i labb och diskussioner i KI:s hörsalar, här är några bilder från besöken. Tack till er alla!

In English:

After the tour: The work continues

We are now summarising the KI management’s visits to the university’s departments. Visiting the department management teams, staff and students has been fantastic. We have taken part of research presentations and teaching, as well as we have been discussing our university openly and constructively, all of the visits provided space for discussion. I also look forward to the upcoming visit to the Department of Clinical Sciences, Danderyd Hospital. The visits have provided rewarding and significant input to Strategy 2030.

I got the strong impression that the university’s departments differ in both their missions and structure. However, several of the general opportunities and challenges faced are university-wide: KI have a dedicated and competent staff, we have strong research, and a strong brand. But we have also established that many of our staff feel that the present organisation lacks clarity and that it is difficult to relate to KI’s overall goals.

We now continue the work of turning words into action, and of mapping out the way forward towards a new strategy. In this regard, it is important that we create a clear process for our visions and goals, as well as establish all steps within the organisation. This is something which was reflected in the department’s input, and which we are sure to revisit.

As we now summarise the visits to the departments, I am reminded of everything from encounters with students, to visits to labs and discussions in KI’s lecture theatres. Here are some pictures from the visits. Thank you to you all!

Photos: Bildmakarna October, November, 2017


In English below.

Som rektor välkomnar jag kraften i debatten som följt på #metoo-kampanjen. Karolinska Institutet ska vara en arbetsplats och en utbildningsmiljö fri från sexuella trakasserier, fri från mobbning, kränkningar och all typ av diskriminering. När det sker ska den som utsätts våga anmäla och det ska finnas beredskap i organisationen för att utreda ärendet, samt stöd och hjälp.

Vi kan konstatera att de vittnesmål som framkommit i samband med #metoo visar att vi har långt kvar till ett jämställt och jämlikt samhälle. Ojämlika maktrelationer finns inom universitets- och högskolesektorn, såväl som i samhället i stort. Karolinska Institutet, med 4800 anställda, 2300 doktorander och 6000 helårsstudenter, är inget undantag.

Vår senaste medarbetarundersökning, MU 2017, visar att vi inte är fria från problem med ovälkomna sexuella anspelningar, kommentarer eller förslag. Vi ser också att arbetet för lika villkor och mot diskriminering ger resultat, färre uppger att de varit utsatta nu än i vår medarbetarundersökning 2014. Men vi får inte glömma de som inte vågar berätta, eller väljer att inte berätta. Vi kan inte bortse från att vi inte vet hur stort mörkertalet är.

Misstänkta trakasserier måste lyftas fram i ljuset – så att vi inom universitetet kan agera. Därför är det viktigt med tydligt ansvar för likavillkorsfrågor och arbetsmiljö, frågor som nu ingår i prorektors ansvar för Karolinska Institutets inre verksamhet.

Ytterst har det akademiska ledarskapet ansvar för att akademin ska vara en plats fri från trakasserier och diskriminering. God arbets- och studiemiljö är grundläggande förutsättningar för att Karolinska Institutet ska uppnå målsättningen att vara ett av de främsta medicinska universiteten i världen. Vår verksamhet ska präglas av ett etiskt förhållningssätt, öppenhet och jämlikhet, vilket kräver ett aktivt arbete med lika villkor. Därför välkomnar jag debatten som följt på #metoo-kampanjen.

Här finns kontaktuppgifter för medarbetare och studenter som har utsatts för, eller har uppmärksammat, sexuella trakasserier på Karolinska Institutet.

In English:

I welcome the power in #metoo

As vice-chancellor, I welcome the powerful debate in the wake of the #metoo campaign. Karolinska Institutet must be a workplace and an educational environment free from sexual harassment, bullying, victimisation and all types of discrimination. When they do occur, those subjected must have no fear of reporting and there must be tools within the organisation to investigate the matter and to provide support and assistance.

Given the testimony that has emerged in conjunction with #metoo, we can only conclude that we have far to go to achieve gender equality and an equal-opportunities society. Unequal power relationships exist in the university and higher education sector just as they do in society as a whole. Karolinska Institutet – with 4,800 employees, 2,300 doctoral students and 6,000 undergraduates – is no exception.

Our latest staff survey, MU 2017, shows that we are not immune to the problem of unwelcome sexual advances, comments or suggestions. We also see that our efforts to promote equal treatment and combat discrimination are delivering results, with fewer respondents reporting being subjected to harassment and discrimination than in the 2014 survey. However, we must not forget those who dare not, or choose not to, tell their stories. We cannot ignore the fact that we do not know the scale of unreported cases.

Suspected harassment must be dragged into the light – so that we within the university can act. It is therefore important to clarify responsibilities for equal treatment and work environment issues, which are included in the pro-vice-chancellors remit for Karolinska Institutet’s internal organisation.

The ultimate responsibility for ensuring that academia is a place free from harassment and discrimination rests with the academic leadership. Good work and study environments are a basic prerequisite if Karolinska Institutet is to achieve its goal of being the world’s leading medical university. Our organisation must be characterised by an ethical approach, transparency and equality, all of which demands active efforts to achieve equal treatment. This is why I welcome the debate in the wake of the #metoo campaign.

Contact information for employees and students who have been exposed to, or have noticed, sexual harassment at Karolinska Institutet.


In English below.

Vår senaste medarbetarundersökning ger viktiga signaler; många medarbetare upplever att nuvarande organisation är otydlig och att det är svårt att relatera till de övergripande målen för verksamheten. En tydlig strategi och en ändamålsenlig organisation är helt nödvändig för att skapa de bästa förutsättningarna för utbildningen och forskningen vid vårt universitet. Det är också nödvändigt att säkerställa det kollegiala inflytandet.

Konsistoriet har sett behovet. Vid sitt senaste sammanträde den 16 oktober, fattade konsistoriet beslutet att se över ledningsorganisationen. Målet är att Karolinska Institutets nya organisation ska vara på plats år 2019.

Strategiskt ledarskap och tydligt ansvar

Behoven av tydlighet och gemensamma mål för vårt universitet är uppenbara. Det handlar om att stärka kvaliteten i utbildningen och få ännu högre kvalitet i forskningen. Och det handlar om ett strategiskt ledarskap som säkerställer fortsatt internationalisering och samverkan med viktiga aktörer som Stockholms läns landsting, Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset, näringsliv och finansiärer. En omorganisation syftar därutöver till att skapa en tydlighet i ansvar och befogenheter, och effektiva stödfunktioner.

KI:s ledning har nu inlett diskussioner med prefekterna och dekanerna om hur en ny organisation ska se ut. KI-ledningens besök på institutionerna ger oss också värdefulla inspel. När vi har en målbild för en ny organisation ska den även förankras hos anställda och studenter.

Det är tydligt att en långsiktig finansiering med såväl stärkta basanslag som donationer behövs för att säkra kvaliteten i utbildningen och forskningen. En förutsättning för detta är strategisk kraft hos ledningen.

Tankar om ny modell

Den bärande organisationsmodellen sedan 1993 har varit ett antal självständiga institutioner, som leds av prefekter, ställda direkt under rektor. I dag har vi tre styrelser, en vardera för utbildning, forskarutbildning och forskning, och en universitetsstyrelse. Det har varit en framgångsrik organisation – i första hand tack vare våra forskare och lärare som verkar inom den. Men vi ser behoven av en utveckling för att stärka den gemensamma inriktningen – vårt gemensamma mål och vår vision i arbetet med vår kommande Strategi 2030.

Vi prövar nu, tillsammans med konsistoriet, tankar om en ny modell som till sin omfattning inte ska öka antalet ledningsfunktioner ovanför institutionsnivån. Den ska inte heller ändra på nuvarande institutionsindelningar. Klart är redan att bilda ett kollegialt råd för att skapa ökade förutsättningar för medarbetarinflytande och därmed ett minskat avstånd till KI:s ledning. Den bärande tanken måste vara en tydlig organisation där medarbetarna kan relatera till de övergripande målen för verksamheten. På så sätt har vi beskrivit premisserna som KI:s organisation bör kännetecknas av:
– Tydliga ansvarskedjor, med harmoniserade ansvar och befogenheter
– Ett kollegialt inflytande på ledningsnivå, i principiella och övergripande frågor
– Kvalitet i kärnverksamheterna
– Effektiva stödfunktioner
– Att den nya organisationen i storlek/omfattning ska vara neutral vad avser lednings-funktioner ovan institutionsnivån.

In English:

It’s time to review KI’s organisation

Our latest employee survey has given us some important signals; many of our staff feel that the present organisation lacks clarity and that it is difficult to relate to KI’s overall goals. A clear strategy and a fit-for-purpose organisation are absolute necessities to create the best possible conditions for education and research at our university. We also need to secure collegial influence.

The University board has understood the need. At its latest meeting, on 16 October, the University board decided to review the management organisation. The objective is for Karolinska Institutet to have a new organisation in place by 2019.

Strategic leadership and clear responsibilities

The need for clarity and common goals at our university is obvious. We have to strengthen quality in our education and achieve even higher quality in our research. And we need to have a strategic leadership that ensures continued internationalisation and interaction with important players like Stockholm County Council, Karolinska University Hospital, trade and industry, and funding providers. In addition, a reorganisation will also aim to create clarity in responsibilities and authority and effective support functions.

KI’s management has now begun discussing what a new organisation should look like with the heads of department and the professors. KI’s management team’s visits to the departments also give us valuable input. When we have a clear picture of the new organisation it will also need to have the backing of our staff and students.

It is clear that long-term funding with both basic appropriations and donations is needed to secure the quality of our education and research. A precondition for this is strategic strength on the part of the management team.

Thoughts on a new model

The bearing organisational model since 1993 has been a number of autonomous departments, led by heads of department and reporting directly to the vice-chancellor. Today we have three boards, one each for education, doctoral education and research, and a university board. The organisation has been successful – thanks mainly to our researchers and teachers who work in it. But we see the need for development to strengthen the common aims – our common goals and our vision in our work on our coming Strategy 2030.

Together with the University board we are now examining ideas for a new model that in its scope will not increase the number of management functions above department level. Nor must it change the present department structure. It has already been decided to form a collegial council to create greater prerequisites for co-determination and thereby shorter distances to KI’s management. The bearing idea must be a clear organisation where staff can relate to KI’s overarching goals. We have described the premisses that should characterise KI’s organisation like this:
– Clear chains of responsibility, with harmonised responsibilities and authority
– Collegial influence at management level in overarching and fundamental questions
– Quality in our core activities
– Effective support functions
– That the new organisation in size/scope shall be neutral as regards management functions above department level.

 


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.