Lennart Nilsson awarded Karolinska Institutet's gold medal on his 90th birthday

Published 2012-08-24 00:00. Updated 2014-02-18 13:33Denna sida på svenska

The Karolinska Institutet Jubilee Medal (Gold class) was awarded today to photographer and professor Lennart Nilsson. He receives the medal for his long-standing and groundbreaking contributions to the development and innovative advancement of medical photography. His work is of an exceptionally high standard and he is an inspiration to photographers both at home and abroad.

Lennart Nilsson joined Karolinska Institutet in the 1970s, and was made an honorary doctor of medicine here in 1976. He is chiefly known for his use of microscope and pioneering key-hole photography to document the human body down to cellular level, and was the first person to photograph a live fetus in utero. Professor Nilsson had his major breakthrough in 1965 with his book 'A Child is Born' and a critically acclaimed photographic feature for Life magazine. Since then, he has continued to push the boundaries of medical photography and has received a host of awards and prizes. Lennart Nilsson's books have been published in over thirty languages, and the TV series 'The Miracle of Life' is one of the most widely broadcast Swedish documentaries ever.

"In his unique way, Lennart Nilsson has visualised medical research and caused millions of people over many generations to marvel at the beauty of the human body," says Professor Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson, president of Karolinska Institutet. "He has been working for many, many years here at KI alongside our researchers and students, and his efforts have meant a great deal to the university. All this makes him a worthy recipient of Karolinska Institutet's gold medal."

The Karolinska Institutet Jubilee Medal was instituted to mark the university's 200th anniversary in 2010 and is awarded in acknowledgement of exceptional contributions to medical research and Karolinska Institutet. The gold medal has been awarded previously on six occasions: to HM King Carl XVI Gustaf, former prime minister Ingvar Carlsson, Nobel laureates Bengt Samuelsson and Paul Greengard, industrialist and Nobel Foundation chairman Marcus Storch and Professor Hans Wigzell.

Lennart Nilsson received the medal at a ceremony in Karolinska Institutet's Nobel Forum. He was also toasted in celebration of his 90th birthday, in connection with which he donated his photographic equipment to Karolinska Institutet.

"I feel enormously proud and honoured," says Professor Nilsson. "I've had a wonderful time here at Karolinska Institutet and am exceedingly grateful at having had this opportunity to work with so many excellent scientists. This donation is a way for me to repay the generosity I've been shown at KI."

For more on Professor Lennart Nilsson, visit