A productive and intensive year is nearing its end at Karolinska Institutet. As 2022 draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the year that is now behind us and to extend my thanks to you all for your contributions to KI´s vision of: “advancing knowledge about life and strive towards a better health for all”.
COVID-19 has been a tragedy and a test for us as a medical university, but I dare say that we have passed the test with flying colours. More than ever before have we seen how the two parts of our vision are inextricably intertwined: experimental research and clinical studies have complemented and energised each other and led to a better understanding of the virus and its effects, and to more effective prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation. At the same time, we have seen how our education and public outreach have strengthened health care and societal resilience in a time of crisis. As pointed out in my previous blog post, our universities are of paramount importance for handling a crisis that challenges each and every discipline of science – from basic biology and medicine to social science, technology, the humanities, and economics. In brief, universities hold the key to our resistance as individuals and to our robustness as society when a crisis hits.
In some ways 2022 has seen a return to “normal” as we now find ourselves in what (hopefully) is the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are back on campus, teaching is returning to on-site learning and meetings, and travels can be resumed to most parts of the world. But as time moves forward, it is never possible to return to what has been. We must make use of the lessons learned, in order to be better prepared for the next challenge. One step in that direction was the establishment of the Centre for Health Crises, which launched its operations in the beginning of the year. The aim of the centre is to make use of what we did and what we learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic and make sure that our knowledge and skills are duly applied in future health crises. This is a true win-win: better preparedness will benefit KI as well as the society at large.
Looking back at the blog posts we see what a diverse year 2022 has been. The topics that have been covered range from the war in Ukraine and the oppression and violence in Iran, to developments in precision medicine and life science. The range of topics reflects the dire geopolitical situation and the unfortunate emergence of repressive regimes, but – on the positive side – also the advances that have been made in many fields of research and education.
A time to reflect
I hope that the last days of 2022 can be a time for us all to reflect and recuperate after an intensive and productive year. Personally, I look forward to taking long walks in the forest and perhaps even take a tour on my cross-country skis, if the snow and winter temperature permit.
However, I know that for many of you the holiday season does not allow full time relaxation. The health care sector is challenged by persistent virus infections and on campus there are functions and activities that must be maintained throughout the festive end of the year. I would also like to extend my greetings to those of you who have come from afar and will be unable to rejoin your families in your home countries.
Finally, to all of you here at KI; to students, staff, alumni, and partners around the world: I wish you all the best for the holiday season and a happy new year!
I have also recorded a short video message for the holiday season, which you can view here