Honorary doctors

Every year, Karolinska Institutet awards honorary doctorates to people who have made vital contributions to the university.

Honorary doctors 2013

Gro Harlem Brundtland

Gro Harlem Brundtland, former director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and long-standing Norwegian Prime Minister, Minister of the Environment and chairman of the Storting's Committee on Foreign and Constitutional Affairs, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine.

Gro Harlem Brundtland obtained her medical degree from the University of Oslo in 1963 and became Master of Public Health at Harvard University in 1965. Since leaving medicine for politics she has continued making significant contributions to health. Dr Harlem Brundtland was elected director general of the WHO in 1998, during which time she promoted sustainable and fair healthcare systems in all countries. As leader of the WHO, Dr Harlem Brundtland also took care to spread the solidarity perspective on research and health work, which has been very important for people living in poverty around the world and for Karolinska Institutet's focus on research in the field of global health.

Michael Orme

Michael Orme, professor of clinical pharmacology and former dean of the medical faculty at the University of Liverpool in England is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Professor Orme has worked with Karolinska Institutet for decades, and has been pivotal in placing Swedish clinical pharmacology at the forefront in Europe. In Sweden, his contributions have included the introduction of radio-immunological methods of drug analysis and participation in clinical trials of hypertension drugs.

At the initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Professor Orme has been engaged in a project involving teachers at Karolinska Institutet and other European experts to draw up guidelines for the function of clinical pharmacology in healthcare, teaching and research. His breadth of experience from London's Royal Postgraduate Medical School and from the University of Liverpool has been vital in determining the focus of doctoral activities in clinical pharmacology at Karolinska Institutet.

Honorary doctors 2012

Svante Pääbo

Svante Pääbo, director of the Max Planck Institute for evolutionary anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Professor Pääbo created the area of molecular palaeontology, and in doing so wrote an entirely new chapter in the science of molecular biology. He has developed new methods for extracting genetic information from ancient tissue, such as bone, skin and teeth, and one of his greatest scientific achievements is the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome from 40,000-year old skeletons. By comparing the DNA from the Neanderthal and modern humans from different continents, his team has shown that up to four per cent of the human DNA in Europe and Asia derives from the Neanderthal. They have also isolated and sequenced DNA from bones in Siberia and shown that they come from a hitherto unknown group of extinct hominids, who were related to the Neanderthals and who contributed up to five per cent of the DNA of people from Melanesia. Professor Pääbo adds continuously to the academic development of the multi-institute Science for Life Laboratory and thus to Karolinska Institutet's own academic growth.

Yoshihide Hayashizaki

Yoshihide Hayashizaki, head of RIKEN Omics Science Center in Yokohama, Japan, and member of the Science for Life Laboratory's scientific advisory council and former foreign adjunct professor at Karolinska Institutet, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Professor Hayashizaki is an internationally renowned researcher who has made important contributions to science's understanding of how genes are expressed from the genome. One of his more significant findings is that much of the genome is copied to the RNA. He has also identified new classes of non-coding RNA and a large number of promoters and gene sequences, the transcription of which start in the human genome. His foremost contribution to science is as head of FANTOM, a joint international project that has been analysing gene expression in mice and humans. Professor Hayashizaki invited researchers from Karolinska Institutet at an early phase of these projects, starting a collaboration that continues to this day as FANTOM5.

Thorbjörn Ekström

Thorbjörn Ekström, the former long-standing RE&D director at the Stockholm County Council, is to be made honorary doctor of odontology. Mr Ekström has played a key part in the collaboration between Karolinska Institutet and the Stockholm County Council, and has displayed particular aptitude as a network builder and negotiator. Mr Ekström has demonstrated a profound understanding of the importance of science and education to healthcare, and has done a great deal to strengthen Karolinska Institutet's position in research, education and development in dental care. He has held a number of important posts in the Stockholm County Council, including as the director of Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge. In his work, Mr Ekström has focused on the south KI campus, where the Department of Odontology is located. He has also made an active and fruitful contribution to the council's efforts to ensure that the clinical component of the dentistry programme maintains the highest quality.

Honorary doctors 2011

Margaret Gatz

Professor Margaret Gatz is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Her ongoing research has influenced an entire generation of scientists in the fields of ageing and the epidemiology of neurodegenerative disease, psychiatric epidemiology and clinical psychology.

Margaret Gatz has been a foreign adjunct professor at Karolinska Institutet since 2000, and has devoted many years to the Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Ageing (SATSA). It is to her credit that SATSA came to include measures of depression and dementia, which led to the Swedish dementia study based on the twin registry.

That study alone has generated over 100 publications and entirely new knowledge of how heredity and environment influence the risk of Alzheimer´s disease and other dementia diseases. Altogether Professor Gatz has co-authored over 130 articles on a wide range of topics with other researchers from Karolinska Institutet.

Katsuhiko Mikoshiba

Katsuhiko Mikoshiba, head of the Laboratory for Developmental Neurobiology at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Japan, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Professor Mikoshiba discovered IP3 receptor, a key calcium regulator, and found its importance in cellular activity and improper function causes diseases. He focuses primarily on calcium signalling in connection with neurobiological activity.

His research is widely discussed and cited, and he has received many prizes and distinctions. He has been a foreign adjunct professor at Karolinska Institutet for seven years.

Professor Mikoshiba has been a key figure in the forging of contacts between Karolinska Institutet and the RIKEN Brain Science Institute, one of Japan´s most cutting-edge neuroscience institutes. RIKEN is currently setting up a research school of the same kind that already exists within the neuroscience field with Karolinska Institutet and the National Institutes of Health as partners. For many years, Professor Mikoshiba has paid annual visits to Karolinska Institutet, delivered lectures and held meetings with a number of the university´s neuroscientists. His laboratory at RIKEN has shared scientific expertise and materials as part of its collaboration with several groups at Karolinska Institutet.

Jonas and Robert af Jochnick

Jonas and Robert af Jochnick are to be made honorary doctors of medicine. The work done by the af Jochnick brothers has made a significant impact on medical science and their deep sense of citizenship has helped provide children and young people around the world with better education and healthcare.

Jonas and Robert af Jochnick´s philanthropic activities were formalised in 2004 with the establishment of the Jochnick Foundation, which has since actively supported and financed a number of projects focusing on the young, education and global health. Entrepreneurship is held in particular high regard by the brothers, who often give priority to projects designed to help people help themselves and to support personal development.

For many years, the af Jochnick brothers have also been involved in research into the most serious and prevalent chronic diseases and supported young clinical researchers at Karolinska Institutet, such as at the Centre for Molecular Medicine. They have also taken particular interest in the ageing brain and dementia diseases, and become engaged in the development of geriatric care. The brothers have made it possible for a professorship in cognitive neuroscience with a specialisation in cognitive ageing to be created, thus protecting Karolinska Institutet´s leading role in this vital field of inquiry.

Iréne Lederhausen

Iréne Lederhausen is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. She has done much to promote research and highly specialised healthcare with deep commitment and impressive drive.

Iréne Lederhausen traces her dedication to the seriously ill back to her daughter, whose cystic fibrosis prompted Ms Lederhausen to train as a nurse and eventually establish the Ronald McDonald Children´s Fund, an independent foundation that supports research into paediatric medicine. She has also been project manager for the Ronald McDonald House at Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge, which has been providing patients receiving highly specialised care and their families with accommodation close to the hospital for the past 16 years.

As project manager for the Ronald McDonald Children´s Fund and the Ronald McDonald House, Ms Lederhausen has selflessly contributed to research and development at Karolinska Institutet. Her initiative is one of the first in Sweden whereby private companies help to finance research and development in the public sector. By inspiring many other companies to follow suit, she has helped to foster closer, more productive collaborations between the country´s key institutions.

Märit Rausing

Märit Rausing is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. She has been deeply involved and dedicated to the development of the Rausing family´s philanthropic endeavours from the start, activities that for many years have been generously supporting international organisations and scientific research devoted to improving people's health and life circumstances.

Karolinska Institutet has benefited from the Rausing family´s interest in science through the "Märit and Hans Rausing Breast Cancer Initiative". This has provided the resources needed for the university to launch the Karma Study - one of the world´s largest breast cancer studies - the aim of which is to reduce the number of women suffering and dying from breast cancer.

The Rausing family´s dedication to research gives Karolinska Institutet new opportunities to make breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment for the millions of women who live with, or who will suffer from breast cancer.

Honorary doctors 2010

Andrew P. Feinberg

Andrew P. Feinberg, professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, USA, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Professor Feinberg is a highly prominent scientist who has created his own research field: cancer epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of the link between genes and environment and the part this plays in disease. Not only does Professor Feinberg´s work save lives, he personally encourages other researchers to push the boundaries of knowledge in biology and medicine.

Professor Feinberg is currently foreign adjunct professor at Karolinska Institutet, and he has demonstrated a strong interest in research and education at our university. He has also been a devoted contributor to the formation of Karolinska Institutet´s Epicenter, an epigenetic profiling platform at the Centre for Molecular Medicine.

Barbro and Bernard Osher

Barbro and Bernard Osher are to be made honorary doctors of medicine. Barbro Osher is Sweden´s Consul General in San Francisco and chairperson of the Pro Suecia Foundation and The Bernard Osher Foundation established by philanthropist Bernard Osher.

The Oshers have supported Karolinska Institutet for many years, and with their deep and extensive interest in science and culture they have made significant contributions to the university´s development. One outcome of their philanthropic work has been the establishment at Karolinska Institutet of the Osher Centre for Integrative Medicine, which conducts trailblazing research in the interface between physiology and behavioural science.

Over the years, the Oshers have demonstrated great personal dedication and generosity towards Karolinska Institutet in sharing their time and knowledge and their extensive network of contacts. In doing this they have been vital to strengthening Karolinska Institutet´s position in Sweden and the USA.

Anthony Pawson

Anthony (Tony) Pawson, Distinguished Scientist at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute and professor at the University of Toronto, Canada, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine.

Professor Pawson studies how cells grow and communicate with each other. He is one of the pioneers of cellular signal transduction, which describes how cellular activity is controlled by chemical signals - a process that causes disease when not functioning properly. Professor Pawson has held his leading position for many years, and even expanded it to other fields of science.

For more than 15 years, professor Pawson has made invaluable contributions to Karolinska Institutet´s scientific endeavours as a member of several research groups and as a source of inspiration. He has demonstrated great generosity and has placed the entire pioneering competence of his group at the disposal of science.

Stefan Persson

Mr Stefan Persson, chairman of H&M, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Stefan Persson has actively promoted research and development for many years, and as founder and chairperson of the Erling-Persson Family Foundation he has demonstrated great insight into the conditions of research and the importance of sustained financial support for bold, curiosity-driven science. With the objective of making Stockholm an internationally leading centre of innovation and enterprise, Mr Persson has contributed to the creation of the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship. This joint venture between Karolinska Institutet, the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), the Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm University and the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design gives students and young scientists opportunities to bring their research results to fruition.

For many years, Mr Persson has shown considerable personal dedication to Karolinska Institutet and has provided sustained support for its research and development. He has also been an important mentor for researchers. In demonstrating his own belief in future opportunities and possessing a unique ability to see the person behind the achievements, he has helped to bring out the beneficial and creative sides of research.

Irma Thesleff

Irma Thesleff, professor at Helsinki University, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Professor Thesleff has made unparalleled contributions to science and is a world-leading researcher in developmental biology, a field that concerns the growth and development of organisms. Her research is particularly focused on the development of teeth and the skull and face.

Professor Thesleff has served as a consultant and external evaluator at Karolinska Institutet and has been an initiator of the Nordic symposia, which have been particularly instrumental in enabling young scientists to develop. As faculty opponent she has demonstrated that scientific argumentation can be as captivating as it is enlightening.

Peter Wallenberg Sr.

Dr Peter Wallenberg, prominent industrialist and business leader, will be made honorary doctor of medicine. Aside from his successful career in the corporate sector, Peter Wallenberg has demonstrated a strong interest and deep understanding of the conditions and needs of research in many disciplines.

As long standing chairman of many of the Wallenberg foundations - by far the largest private financiers of scientific research and infrastructure in Sweden - Dr Wallenberg has for many years contributed to the long-term development of research at Karolinska Institutet. With his strategic mind, he has actively contributed to and aimed for future development of research at Karolinska Institutet to achieve highest expertise internationally. In addition to the need for internationalization, Dr Wallenberg has with emphasis argued for the creation of cross-fertilization between different disciplines of science.

Dr Peter Wallenberg´s endeavours combined with the research grants that the Wallenberg foundations have contributed to have been fundamental for the development of research in the field of medicine at Karolinska Institutet.

Honorary doctors 2009

Dr Håkan Mogren

Håkan Mogren, one of Sweden´s most prominent figures within trade and industry, is to receive an honorary doctorate in medicine. During his many years in leading positions at Astra and AstraZeneca, Håkan Mogren, who began his successful career within pharmaceuticals as a researcher in biochemistry, has maintained a consistently strong interest in, and fervent commitment to, medical research.

He is among those corporate leaders who, with particular foresight has realised the tremendous benefits of academic-industry partnerships, both for the partners themselves and for Sweden as a research nation. Since stepping down as CEO in 1999 to become Deputy Vice Chairman of the pharmaceutical group's board, Håkan Mogren has remained a tireless advocate for academic research, particularly research conducted at Karolinska Institutet.

Speech therapist Ulla Föhrer

An honorary doctorate in medicine is being awarded to Ulla Föhrer, speech therapist and researcher at Karolinska Institutet. During the many years, she has been active within the field of reading and writing difficulties she has contributed to the remodelling of methods for the investigation and treatment of people with such disabilities.

In her research, Ulla Föhrer has successfully shown the important role of technical aids in helping people with reading and writing challenges to utilise their cognitive capacity. Ulla Föhrer has also made crucial contributions to speech therapy training at Karolinska Institutet.

Professor Kevin J. Tracey

Professor Kevin J. Tracey at the Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine is being awarded an honorary doctorate in medicine. Professor Tracey is a neurosurgeon and leading expert within the field of inflammation research. His discoveries have paved the way for the development of new medicines to treat chronic rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and infection. He has made considerable contributions towards improving knowledge of regulating inflammatory processes.

Professor Tracey is also Director of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research at the fourth largest American hospital organisation, North Shore-LIJ Health System. Karolinska Institutet has enjoyed a long-standing partnership with both the Feinstein Institute and with Kevin J. Tracey.

Honorary doctors 2008

Professor Sreekumaran Nair

An honorary doctorate in medicine is to be awarded to Professor Sreekumaran Nair, Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, USA, who is an internationally leading researcher in clinical metabolism. He has characterized the protein metabolism on a molecular level in muscles influenced by hormonal changes, by nutritional variations and during aging. These results have had a great impact on our understanding of pathological processes and have formed the basis for new treatments.

During many years, Professor Sreekumaran Nair has generously and actively promoted a broad collaboration between Karolinska Institutet and the Mayo Clinic.

Professor Phillip Peterson

An honorary doctorate in medicine is to be awarded to Professor Phillip Peterson, University of Minnesota, USA. Professor Phillip Peterson has initiated a close collaboration between Karolinska Institutet and the University of Minnesota in the area of inflammation and infection, a collaboration that has ended up in a number of symposia in Stockholm as well as in Minneapolis.

He has also worked for extension of the collaboration to also comprise graduate education, with mutual student exchanges. Further collaborations on master and post-graduate levels are being planned as well.

Edvard Söderberg

An honorary doctorate in medicine is to be awarded to Edvard Söderberg, director of the Torsten and Ragnar Söderberg Foundations. Since 1960, when the Foundations were founded, Edvard Söderberg has been responsible for administration and contacts with researchers. Through the boards of the Foundations he has been the driving force for support to medical research and has promoted large funding to high-quality projects instead of distributing smaller amounts to several projects.

Edvard Söderbergs contributions have, in recent years, lead to changed policies of the Foundations in favour of many research groups at Karolinska Institutet and other universities.

Michael J Fox

The renowned advocate and actor Michael J. Fox is to be made honorary doctor of medicine at Karolinska Institutet in recognition of his work raising funds and awareness for Parkinson's disease as the founder of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF).