Swede honoured with photography prize for virtual autopsy techniques

Published 2013-04-24 00:00. Updated 2014-01-27 11:26

The 2008 Lennart Nilsson Award for scientific photography will be presented to Swedish physician Anders Persson, MD, PhD, in recognition of his innovative techniques for capturing 3-D images inside the human body. These new techniques have proven particularly useful for post-mortem imaging, providing invaluable information for forensic investigation. The prize, now celebrating its 10th anniversary, is considered by many to be the world´s most prestigious award in scientific and medical photography.

The Lennart Nilsson Award is presented annually in honour of the world-renown Swedish photographer, who has been exploring imaging frontiers at the medical university Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm for decades. Like Nilsson, Dr Persson has developed methods for capturing images inside the body, revealing what was previously invisible to the human eye.


In selecting Anders Persson, the board of the Lennart Nilsson Award Foundation stated: "Persson´s imaging methods combine cutting-edge technology with great artistry and educational value. He reveals the hidden mysteries of the body with unique precision, producing images that can be understood and interpreted by the lay public and experts alike."

Dr Persson is Director of the Center for Medical Image Science and Visualization (CMIV) at Linköping University and the University Hospital in Linköping, Sweden, where he has developed 3-D imaging technology with considerable success. Dr Persson and his colleagues produce their images of the inside of the human body using a combination of imaging techniques including magnetic resonance, ultrasound and positron emission tomography. After capturing these initial images, Persson compiles them into pictures of great clarity that are rich in data. The CMIVs techniques open up completely new avenues for forensic medical experts to conduct analyses that are much quicker and simpler than conventional methods. Persson´s spectacular 3-D images have been featured prominently on CSI, a popular TV series about a team of forensic scientists.

Dr Anders Persson (born 1953) began his career as an X-ray lab assistant in Bollnäs, Sweden, after leaving upper secondary school. He so enjoyed this work that he passed up the opportunity to study at the Royal Institute of Technology in order to train as a radiology nurse. After working as a nursing instructor with Karolinska Institutets Radiology Assistant program, he went on to become a radiologist. For several years he worked as a consultant and senior consultant in Hudiksvall before becoming the head of radiology for the Hälsingland region.

In 2002, he was recruited by Linköping University to develop the CMIV and in 2005 earned his doctorate in the field of 3-D imaging. The CMIV has since expanded, and now comprises 70 research scientists and 30 postgraduates.

The Lennart Nilsson Award, started in 1998, is administered by Karolinska Institutet. The university´s president, Professor Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson, serves as chairperson of the Lennart Nilsson Award Foundation and takes part in the selection of the prize winners, who are awarded SEK 100,000 or nearly $15,000 USD. This years winner will be announced at the Book and Library Fair in Gothenburg, Sweden, in connection with a seminar on Making the invisible visible. The award ceremony will be held in the Berwald Hall in Stockholm on October 28th and will coincide with Karolinska Institutet´s installation ceremony for new professors. Lennart Nilsson will be attendance.

Public lecture and exhibition

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the prize, the Lennart Nilsson Award Foundation is arranging a photography exhibition at Galleri Kontrast in Stockholm. When and where: 11 October - 2 November, Galleri Kontrast, Hornsgatan 8.

As part of the celebration, the prize winner will present a public lecture for scientists, healthcare professionals, professional photographers and designers, journalists and members of the public. When and where: October 27th at 5.30-7 PM in Stockholm, Samuelssonsalen, Karolinska Institutet, Tomtebodavägen 6, Solna.

Journalists may also attend the award ceremony in the Berwald Hall on 28 October. To attend the ceremony, please contact the Karolinska Institutet press office in advance.