Anders Sönnerborg group

The research of our group is translational, studying HIV-1 and hepatitis pathogenesis, treatment (cure, resistance) and molecular epidemiology from both an experimental and a clinical point of view.

The group collaborates intensively with national and international partners. The experimental research is performed in close collaboration with the Division of Microbiology, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institutet. The infrastructure of the clinical research is the HIV cohort at Karolinska University Hospital and the national InfCare HIV database, which is also the basis for several European collaborations. Global collaborations are focused on aspects on HIV treatment and molecular epidemiology. They are performed together with partners in the EuResist consortium and several low-middle income countries (Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, India, Bangladesh and Vietnam).

Keywords: immune activation, resistance, persistence, bioinformatics, cohorts, phylogenetics


Anders Sönnerborg, Group Leader.

MD, PhD. Educated at Karolinska Institutet. Professor in Infectious Diseases/Clinical Virology since 1998. Acting director, Unit for Infectious Diseases and Dermatology. Senior consultant at Departments of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Virology, Karolinska University Hospital. Former scubadiver, soccer and ice-hockey player. Now more relaxed with interest in our cultural heritage, foreign cultures and the archipelago.

Piotr Nowak, Senior scientist

 MD, PhD. Educated at Warsaw Medical University, Poland. PhD at Karolinska Institutet, 2007. Title: Aspects on immune activation in HIV-1 infection. Currently, Resident (ST-läkare) at the Infectious Disease Clinic, Karolinska University Hospital. Responsible for translational activity of the research group.


Assistant professor

Ujjwal Neogi 

I obtained by doctoral degree from Department of Medicine Huddinge, Karolinska Institutet (KI) in 2013. Following my one year postdoc in St. John’s Research Institute, India and 2nd year postdoc at Department of Laboratory Medicine, KI, I joined the same department as Assistant Professor in 2015, where my research focuses on HIV-1 subtype C (HIV-1C) viruses, which is a cause for nearly half of the global infection. This specific strain is also predominant in India with >95% of infection, which motivates me to gain mechanistic insight of its pathogenesis and therapeutic efficacy, which can potentially help in better therapeutic management.




Guruswamy Karnam

I am Guruswamy Karnam raised in Bavikadapalli, India. M.Sc in Biochemistry from Sri venkateswara University Tirupathi. I have three years of experience as junior research fellow from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, and Ph.D. from Department of Immunology, University of Utrecht, Netherlands on immune inhibitory receptors in viral infections and cancer. I joined Prof. Sönnerborg’s group in May 2015 as a postdoc at the Department of Medicine. 

Amanda Häggblom

I received my medical degree from the Medical University of Innsbruck 2007, and I am currently doing my residency at the Department of Infectious Diseases, County Council of Gävleborg. 
I obtained a PhD position in Sönnerborgs group January 2010. My PhD involves studies of the InfCare HIV quality register, focusing on temporal trends of HIV-1 subtypes, antiretroviral treatments and drug resistance in the Swedish HIV-1 cohort. Currently my studies evaluate different aspects of HIV treatment outcome and antiretroviral drug resistance in the national HIV cohort

Robert van Domselaar

I received my PhD training in medical biology from the Department of Pathology, University Medical Center Utrecht, and the Utrecht University, The Netherlands. I obtained my doctoral degree in 2012 on the antiviral and anticancer functions of granzymes. After working on several diverse research projects, I joined Prof. Sönnerborg’s group as a postdoctoral researcher in February 2017. Here, I will study the molecular mechanisms by which elite controllers can control their HIV-1 infection in the absence of antiretroviral therapy.

Clinical unit

Veronica Svedhem-Johansson, Senior Researcher

I am specialist in infectious diseases and senior consultant at the Infectious Disease Clinic, Karolinska. The title of my PhD thesis was "Kinetics of HIV-1 drug associated mutations in vivo", which was defended in 2006 at KI. I am now responsible for the national InfCare HIV quality assurance registry and senior researcher in the projects “Integrated analysis of biomedical and quality of life data in the InfCare HIV system”, “Mortality  among HIV-infected patients in Sweden, a retrospective cohort study” and collaborator in the HIV Europe network.  

Johanna Brännström, Senior Researcher

I am specialist in Infectious diseases, graduating from Karolinska Institutet in 1998. Parallel with doing my thesis on Late Presentation in HIV-1 infection I am working as a clinician at the Clinic of Infectious diseases, Karolinska; mainly at the Centre of HIV Medicine. I am also a member of The Swedish Physicians Against AIDS Committee. At my spare time I appreciate peace and quiet with a good book as well as "water splash" with the kids or a good samba party.



Emmi Andersson

I am a MD and specialist in Clinical Microbiology and soon also in Infectious Diseases.  I got my medical degree from KI and since then I´ve been combining work in the laboratory and infectious disease department. Since 2013 I am a registered PhD student.



Christina Carlander

Born and raised in Lund. Medical examination at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University year 2000. Specialist in Infectious Diseases 2010. Since 2002 I am working at the Clinic of Infectious Diseases in Västerås. Sub-specialised in HIV treatment. I am presently working in a research project concerning cervical cancer among HIV-1 infected women. I am terrible at sewing, great at writing songtexts and was once chased up a tree by a rhino.


Nigus Fikrie Telele

I have BSc in Biology, 2001, and MSc in Medical Parasitology, 2005 at Addis Ababa University. Since 2006, I am working with an academic rank of a lecturer in the Dep of Microbiology, School of Medicine, AAU. Since 2009, I am a PhD student in Medical Microbiology with Prof. Sönnerborg as co-tutor. My project is based on a large Ethiopian HIV cohort aimed at developing a monitoring algorithm for antiretroviral treatment efficacy as it would have valuable application in highly resource limited settings, such as Ethiopia


Kajsa Noyan

I received my master’s degree in Medical Science from Karolinska Institutet in 2013 and joined Prof. Sönnerborg’s group as a PhD student in 2014. My research focus on a very unique fraction of HIV-1 infected individuals that are able to spontaneously control the infection to almost undetectable virus levels in blood, without any use of antiretroviral therapy. These elite controllers (EC) maintain stable CD4 counts and suppressed HIV replication, and are proof that durable control of infection can be achieved. I am studying the underlying mechanism of how ECs control the infection with a focus on host genetic factors, conventional- and regulatory T cells, and gut microbiota.


Shambhu Prasad G A

I am Shambhu from Davangere in India. I completed my Masters in Molecular Biology from Yuvaraja’s College, University of Mysore, Mysore, India in 2011. Next three years I worked as a research fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, India and was involved in research related to Molecular virology and epidemiology of HIV-1C patients from South India. In Prof Sönnerborgs lab as a doctoral student I aim at genotypic and phenotypic characterization of HIV-1C virus pertaining to adaptation and virulence. Apart from that I will also study the role of drug resistant mutations affecting pathogenesis of the virus.


Jan Vesterbacka

He is a Swedish-speaking Finn originally from Ostrobothnia, who moved to Sweden and received the medical degree from Umeå Universitet in 1999. He works as a MD specialist in Infectious Diseases since 2006. He joined group Sönnerborg as a clinical collaborator in 2011, and got registered as a Ph.D. student April 2014. His research is focusing on microbial translocation during HIV-1 infection with a special emphasis on elite controllers. 


Amare Worku

I have BSc in Biology 1987, and MSc in Medical microbiology 2005 at Addis Ababa University. Presently, I am head for Microbiology/HIV service laboratories and ART program, AAU College of health sciences, Tikur Anbessa specialized hospital. My PhD project is based on a large multisite national HIV cohort and aims at describing important aspects on virological and immunological outcome in this cohort with Prof. Sönnerborg as co-tutor.



Immunoactivation and microbial translocation

Our in vitro research, using cell-lines and patient-material, focus on the association between immune activation (especially the HMGB1 protein), microbial translocation (MT) and its role for low-grade HIV viremia during efficient antiretroviral therapy, and hence for the replenishment of the viral reservoirs. MT is studied through several assays: anti-LPS, LPS, anti-flagellin antibodies, flagellin, sCD14 and intestinal fatty acid binding protein. 16SDNA PCR and sequencing methodology are developed for assessment of bacterial DNA in blood. We have also started to study these events in other diseases, including hepatitis C.

Cell culture approaches are used for studies of the activation of latent HIV infected cells in vitro, both resting memory CD4+ T-cells and latently infected monocytic-lines. HMGB1 in bacterial complexes might trigger a large range of TLRs that could play a role in HIV pathogenesis. We therefore investigate a potential interacting effect of HMGB1 and TLR ligands on viral replication; LPS (TLR 4), flagellin (TLR 5), CpG-DNA (TLR9). Following the same approach as for HIV, we determine the impact of HMGB1, bacterial products and the complexes on activation of hepatic stellate cells and on HCV replication in vitro.

HIV drug resistance and Molecular phylogeny

Our experimental studies focus on the development and persistence of HIV drug resistance (DR) in minor quasispecies and in the reservoirs of resting T-cells by analysing patient-material from well-defined cohorts and in vitro studies of models of latent HIV infection. In 2006, we co-founded the EuResist consortium ( with experts in virology, infectious diseases, bioinformatics and computer science. The database (db) is today one of the world´s largest HIV DR db incl. clinical/laboratory data and viral sequences. A bioinformatic engine has been developed integrating DR data with clinical information and treatment history to predict successful ART regimes after a failure. Data from partners in low income countries are added to the db in order to evaluate the possibility to predict optimal therapy after ART failure without performing DR testing, using only clinical information and treatment history. Also, prospective studies will be designed on the usefulness of our predictive engines.

The DR sequences are also used for molecular epidemiology. Based on the viral genes gag, pol and env, we perform comprehensive investigations of the phylodynamics and phylogeographics of HIV-1 subtypes circulating in our partner-countries with a large number of clinical samples representing different geographic regions. Moreover, we aim at tracing the date of introduction of HIV-1 in the countries to understand the in depth HIV-1 molecular epidemiology of circulating HIV-1 subtypes and to trace the tMRCA of predominant subtype strains.


Cohort studies

A major task of the clinical unit is to give support to the translational research of our and other groups at KI/Sweden. The HIV cohort covers 100% of the patients at all Swedish units and is based on the software InfCare HIV ( which is a clinical decision support system, a national quality assurance registry and a research database. Several projects evaluate aspects on antiretroviral therapy and HIV pathogenesis as well as registry studies, e.g on cervical cancer in HIV+ women.

Since 2009 a key study is on late presentation of HIV diagnosis, a major remaining clinical issue. It is a 6-years multidisciplinary study characterizing 80% of all newly diagnosed patients in Sweden, biomedically and psychosocially. We are also involved in several international collaborations and prospective observational cohorts, like the European AIDS Treatment Network (, HIV in Europe (, EuroSIDA, the Partner-study. Our well-reputed clinical trial unit has been actively participating in phase I-III pivotal trials of almost all new HIV drugs since 1994.

We are also involved in several multidisciplinary HIV cohort studies in low-middle income countries, including academic partners from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, India, Bangladesh and Vietnam. In addition to our input on capacity building and training, these studies focus on application of the techniques/research questions described above in relation to cohort-characteristic features.

Infcare HIV
European AIDS Treatment Network
HIV in Europe

Financial support

Swedish Research Council, Karolinska Institutet, Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, Swedish Civil Contagencies Agency; Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Swedish Physician Against AIDS Research Fund, Stockholm County Council (ALF), Gilead Sciences, Abbott Scandinavia, EU FP6 NEAT, EU FP7 CHAIN, EU Marie-Curie integration grants, European and Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership (EDCTP).

Selected publications

Higher prevalence of predicted X4-tropic strains in perinatally infected older children with HIV-1 subtype C in India.
Neogi U, Sahoo P, Arumugam K, Sonnerborg A, De Costa A, Shet A
J. Acquir. Immune Defic. Syndr. 2012 Apr;59(4):347-53

HIV-1 mutational pathways under multidrug therapy.
Lawyer G, Altmann A, Thielen A, Zazzi M, Sönnerborg A, Lengauer T
AIDS Res Ther 2011 Jul;8():26

Transmitted drug resistance and phylogenetic analysis of HIV CRF01_AE in Northern Vietnam.
Bontell I, Cuong D, Agneskog E, Diwan V, Larsson M, Sönnerborg A
Infect. Genet. Evol. 2012 Mar;12(2):448-52

European guidelines on the clinical management of HIV-1 tropism testing.
Vandekerckhove L, Wensing A, Kaiser R, Brun-Vézinet F, Clotet B, De Luca A, et al
Lancet Infect Dis 2011 May;11(5):394-407

Detection of drug resistance mutations at low plasma HIV-1 RNA load in a European multicentre cohort study.
Prosperi M, Mackie N, Di Giambenedetto S, Zazzi M, Camacho R, Fanti I, et al
J. Antimicrob. Chemother. 2011 Aug;66(8):1886-96

High mobility group box protein-1 in HIV-1 infection.
Trøseid M, Sönnerborg A, Nowak P
Curr. HIV Res. 2011 Jan;9(1):6-10

Antiretroviral therapy optimisation without genotype resistance testing: a perspective on treatment history based models.
Prosperi M, Rosen-Zvi M, Altmann A, Zazzi M, Di Giambenedetto S, Kaiser R, et al
PLoS ONE 2010 Oct;5(10):e13753

Prediction of response to antiretroviral therapy by human experts and by the EuResist data-driven expert system (the EVE study).
Zazzi M, Kaiser R, Sönnerborg A, Struck D, Altmann A, Prosperi M, et al
HIV Med. 2011 Apr;12(4):211-8

Only slight impact of predicted replicative capacity for therapy response prediction.
Weisser H, Altmann A, Sierra S, Incardona F, Struck D, Sönnerborg A, et al
PLoS ONE 2010 Feb;5(2):e9044

Implications of the release of high-mobility group box 1 protein from dying cells during human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection in vitro.
Barqasho B, Nowak P, Abdurahman S, Walther-Jallow L, Sönnerborg A
J. Gen. Virol. 2010 Jul;91(Pt 7):1800-9

Elevated plasma levels of lipopolysaccharide and high mobility group box-1 protein are associated with high viral load in HIV-1 infection: reduction by 2-year antiretroviral therapy.
Trøseid M, Nowak P, Nyström J, Lindkvist A, Abdurahman S, Sönnerborg A
AIDS 2010 Jul;24(11):1733-7

Kinetics of plasma cytokines and chemokines during primary HIV-1 infection and after analytical treatment interruption.
Barqasho B, Nowak P, Tjernlund A, Kinloch S, Goh L, Lampe F, et al
HIV Med. 2009 Feb;10(2):94-102

Predicting the response to combination antiretroviral therapy: retrospective validation of geno2pheno-THEO on a large clinical database.
Altmann A, Däumer M, Beerenwinkel N, Peres Y, Schülter E, Büch J, et al
J. Infect. Dis. 2009 Apr;199(7):999-1006

Selection of drug-resistant HIV-1 during the early phase of viral decay is uncommon in treatment-naïve patients initiated on a three- or four-drug antiretroviral regimen including lamivudine.
Bergroth T, Ekici H, Gisslén M, Loes S, Goh L, Freedman A, et al
J. Med. Virol. 2009 Jan;81(1):1-8

Difference in drug resistance patterns between minor HIV-1 populations in cerebrospinal fluid and plasma.
Bergroth T, Ekici H, Gisslén M, Hagberg L, Sönnerborg A
HIV Med. 2009 Feb;10(2):111-5

Open positions

We always want to get in touch with talented potential co-workers. If you are interested in doing research within our group, as a degree project or as a researcher, please contact the group leader Professor Anders Sönnerborg or Dr Piotr Nowak.


InfCare HIV and Hepatitis:



EuResist mainpage

EuResist Wikipedia

EuResist Network video

EuResist case study video

EuResist case study

Referensgruppen för AntiViral terapi:


HIV and Anti-HIV Drug Resistance Network:


European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership:

EDCTP project

HIV in Europe: