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About me

  • 2005 PhD, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
  • 2006-2009 Postdoc at NYU, USA. Mentor: Prof. David A. Scicchitano.
  • 2010-2011 Postdoc at IMM, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
  • 2011-2014 Assistant Professor at at IMM, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
  • 2016 Docent at Karolinska Insitutet, Sweden.

Research description

There are two main projects in the lab. (1) transcriptional mutagenesis as a novel model for tumor progression, and (2) role of complex mixtures of environmental pollutants in inflammatory and carcinogenic processes.


Biological effects of transcriptional mutagenesis on carcinogenesis using in vitro and animal models.

When a DNA-damage is bypassed during transcription this can lead to RNA misincorporation, a process termed transcriptional mutagenesis (TM). Although the concept of TM is well known, the biological consequences are still a recent discovery. While the few existing studies of TM have begun to shed light on the process, many issues have yet to be addressed. The extent, to which TM occurs in mammalian cells and the role these seemingly transient errors might play in disease processes such as carcinogenesis, is currently unknown. Current theories postulate that the transient expression of mutant proteins via TM could play a major role in tumor development by stimulating proliferation of a senescent initiated, precancerous cell or allowing it to escape growth-inhibitory apoptotic signals and undergo clonal expansion. In order to characterize each of these events, a  unique approach has been developed for studying the occurrence and potentially detrimental effects originating from TM. We will study the effects on p53-dependent signaling, motivated by its critical role as tumor suppressor. By studying the effects of p53 TM on the regulation of cellular DNA damage signaling/repair apoptosis and senescence using physiological relevant cellular and in vivo model systems, the role of TM in p53-dependent regulation of tumor progression will be  investigated.

For more details:


Contribution of interactions between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons to the carcinogenicity of polluted air and soil.

Exposure to air particulate matter (PM) is estimated to cause 5000 premature deaths in Sweden annually. Carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are considered to play an important role in the adverse effects induced by PM. Furthermore, many contaminated sites (soil) are polluted by complex mixtures of PAHs. Assessment of the cancer risk posed by complex PAH mixtures in air or soil is commonly performed using benzo(a)pyrene as an indicator or by applying toxic equivalency factors (TEFs). These concepts might grossly underestimate the risk as ours and others data show strong synergistic effects between PAHs. The main objective of the present research is to study the contribution of interactions between PAHs to carcinogenic and inflammatory effects employing human cells and zebra fish exposed to extracts of urban air PM and contaminated soil. The research is important for sustainable development as human exposure to PAHs has been linked with adverse health effects such as lung cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, premature mortality among adults and even increased infant mortality. It will produce unique data that can be used for improved risk assessment and abatement strategies.

For more details:



  • Cancer och Allergi-fonden
  • Carl Tryggers stiftelse
  • Institute of Environmental Medicine
  • Seventh framework program Marie Curie international reintegration grant (IRG)
  • Stockholm County Council "Miljöanslaget"
  • Stockholm City Department of Environment
  • Swedish international development cooperation agency (SIDA)
  • Swedish research council (VR)
  • ÅForsk (Ångpanneföreningen's Foundation for Research and Development)


Research group




Selected publications

Induction and inhibition of human cytochrome P4501 by oxygenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Wincent E, Le Bihanic F, Dreij K. Toxicol. Res. 2016 Mar;5():788-99

Aryl hydrocarbon receptor activation and developmental toxicity in zebrafish in response to soil extracts containing unsubstituted and oxygenated PAHs.
Wincent E, Jönsson M, Bottai M, Lundstedt S, Dreij K
Environ. Sci. Technol. 2015 Mar;49(6):3869-77

Interactions between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in complex mixtures and implications for cancer risk assessment.
Jarvis I, Dreij K, Mattsson , Jernström B, Stenius U
Toxicology 2014 Jul;321():27-39

Persistent activation of DNA damage signaling in response to complex mixtures of PAHs in air particulate matter.
Jarvis I, Bergvall C, Bottai M, Westerholm R, Stenius U, Dreij K
Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 2013 Feb;266(3):408-18

Glutaredoxin regulates vascular development by reversible glutathionylation of sirtuin 1.
Bräutigam L, Jensen L, Poschmann G, Nyström S, Bannenberg S, Dreij K, et al
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2013 Dec;110(50):20057-62

O6-methylguanine induces altered proteins at the level of transcription in human cells.
Burns J, Dreij K, Cartularo L, Scicchitano D
Nucleic Acids Res. 2010 Dec;38(22):8178-87

Teaching portfolio

Over the last few years I have taught in several courses in toxicology and chemical carcinogenesis for a variety of national and international participants (undergraduates, postgraduates, risk assessors, researchers), over 300 hours.

  • Study director and course organizer at the global master’s program in toxicology, Karolinska Institutet. LINK
  • Course organizer and main instructor at the doctoral courses in Cancer risk assessment and Genome integrity, Karolinska Institutet.
  • Teaching at bachelor and master courses at Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University.



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