Important discoveries made at KI

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Today, KI scientists are on the cutting edge of several key biomedical fields, such as cell therapy, new vaccines, LifeGene, cancer, cerebral function, cardiovascular disease, inflammation diseases and integrative medicine. The discoveries below show that this was also true before.

The sedimentation reaction

In 1915, Robin Fåhraeus discovers the sedimentation reaction (ESR), now a classic and still-used method for diagnosing ongoing disease processes in the body.

Instruments for measuring ionised radiation

In the fist half of the 1900s, Rolf Sievert invents a number of instruments for measuring and assessing the biological effects of ionised radiation, such as that used in the treatment of cancer. His name is now the SI unit of dose equivalent - the Sievert (Sv).

The preparation of pure insulin

At the end of the 1920s, Erik Jorpes develops a method for the production of pure insulin, following it in the 1930s with a method for the production of safe, non-toxic heparin, a substance that prevents the coagulation of blood.


In the 1960s, Yngve Ericsson demonstrates the importance of fluoridation for dental health.

Puncture cytology

In the 1950s, Sixten Franzén develops the technique of puncture cytology, a method of extracting cells from body tissue (biopsy or cancer test) using a syringe or a fine needle (fine needle biopsy). The method is now widely used around the world.

The Seldinger technique

In 1952, Sven Ivar Seldinger develops a technique for the radiological examination of blood vessels. This method is still in universal use.

The preparation of pure myoglobin

Together with Arne Tiselius, Hugo Theorell was the first to use electrophoresis to isolate proteins. He also produced a pure form of myoglobin, which is important for supplying the muscles with oxygen. In 1955 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for his discoveries concerning the nature and mode of action of oxidation enzymes".

The pacemaker

In 1958, Åke Senning surgically implants the first pacemaker into a human being. The pacemaker had been built by engineer Rune Elmqvist.

Åke Senning also made significant contributions to the development of the heart-lung machine.

Retinal function

In 1967, Ragnar Granit is made a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in recognition of his contributions to the analysis of retinal function and how optical nerve cells respond to light stimuli, colour and frequency.

The gamma knife

In 1968, Lars Leksell develops and launches the world's first gamma knife, a stereotactic device first used in the treatment of brain tumours.

Identification of noradrenalin

In 1970, Ulf von Euler is made a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his contributions to the identification and analysis of noradrenalin, the most important neurotransmitter of the sympathetic nervous system.

Mitochondrial medicine

In the early 1960s, Rolf Luft, the internationally renowned diabetes researchers and founder of Swedish endocrinology, and his co-workers identify the first disease caused by a disorder of a cellular organelle, in this case the mitochondria. This marked the first step in the development of an entirely new field of science: mitochondrial medicine.

The discovery of prostaglandins

In 1982, Sune Bergström and Bengt Samuelsson are made co-recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their contributions to the discovery of prostaglandins, which, alongside other functions, play a key part in the control of blood pressure and blood vessel activity.