Course leaders for doctoral supervisor courses

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The course leaders contribute to an open discussion climate and a good dialogue between course participants, lecturers and course leaders by explaining the terms and setup of the course

Course leaders

The course leaders at Karolinska Institutet’s doctoral education courses are researchers with personal experience of supervising doctoral students.

The course leaders are operatively responsible for the course and that the course is carried out in agreement with the intended learning outcomes in the course syllabus. The course leaders are present during the whole course and are responsible for the constructive alignment of the course as well as making sure that the course’s focus is on the role as supervisor at KI. The course leader contributes to an open discussion climate and a good dialogue between course participants, lecturers and course leaders by explaining the terms and setup of the course.

  • The Introductory doctoral supervisor course, which is held several times per year, is led by Helena Karlström, Markus Moll and Kent Jardemark.
  • The course Pedagogy for doctoral supervisors is led by Juha Nieminen and Maria Hagströmer.
  • The course Leadership for research group leaders is led by Helena Karlström, Markus Moll and Kent Jardemark.

Bob Harris

Bob Harris is Professor of Immunotherapy in Neurological Diseases; KI Central Director of Studies; Director of Studies for the Department of Clinical Neuroscience.

What interests me about supervisor training

As a supervisor I consider the most interesting aspect is to follow the scientific development of an individual as a researcher. The ultimate level of supervision is to be able to provide the specific individual supervision that each student requires depending on their strengths and weaknesses, rather than applying the same tactic for everyone. What I consider most stimulating as a supervisor is that one is continuously faced with new challenges with each new student.

My view of a good PhD supervisor

Good supervision entails (1) sufficient time allocated for effective supervision, (2) prioritizing supervision, and (3) reflecting regularly over one’s personal development as a supervisor.

My main tasks

First and foremostly I am a research group leader for a team that currently comprises one postdoc and four PhD students, but I also teach during a number of Undergraduate, Masters and Postgraduate courses. I am Director of Studies for the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, a Central Director of Studies for KI, as well as a teacher representative within the Board of Doctoral Education. My major tasks centrally are to develop quality assurance within Doctoral Education and a large part of this focuses on supervisor training.

My research

In my ‘Applied Immunology and Immunotherapy’ research group we conduct an integrated research programme aiming to translate findings from preclinical models into clinical use. We focus on understanding the mechanisms underlying chronic inflammatory processes and then developing ways to stop these through specific targeted therapies. Our major efforts are currently directed at further developing a platform for personalized medicine based on cell therapy using a patient’s own immune blood cells.

Having originally been trained as a parasitologist I have always been fascinated by the immune system’s reaction to tropical parasites and the gross tissue destruction that often characterize these diseases. We utilized this ability of parasites to efficiently and specifically stimulate the immune system in development of a new therapeutic strategy in which an induced parasite infection could abrogate the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis in experimental models. From this initial concept we were able to replace the parasite infection with a similar specific chemical-induced re-programming of myeloid immune cells, which are then transferred back into sick individuals. We currently use this cell therapy technology in settings of experimental Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Pain and Brain tumors.

Kent Jardemark

Kent Jardemark is Associate Professor of Pharmacology. Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.

In terms of research supervision, I am mostly interested in the relationship between student and tutor. A good relationship between them will help both the student and the tutor to fully develop as a researcher and an individual. Their relationship needs to be based on a clear and direct communication, flexibility and commitment.

My view of a good supervisor

A good research supervisor ensures that the doctoral student develops into a competent researcher. The most important factor in this process is that the student and the supervisor have an open and frequent recurrence of communication so that the doctoral student receives a clear feedback in her/his effort to achieve the specific aims in her/his graduate studies. Here, it is important that the supervisor has time for, and a willingness to get to know, the doctoral student. Not least, it is important to convey a positive feeling for the research to the student.

My main tasks

I am currently the main supervisor and co-supervisor of 5 PhD students. I have been a supervisor for a PhD student who graduated in 2007 and co-supervisor for 3 PhD students. I am also responsible for courses in pharmacology and neuropsychopharmacology at the bachelor and doctoral levels. This task means that I need knowledge about the rules and regulations in a number of different issues related to graduate education - from admission to graduation.

My research

My research focuses on the pharmacological treatment of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and depression. We try to understand the mechanisms behind how antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs modulate various neurotransmitter systems (e.g. dopamine and glutamate) in brain. The studies will hopefully contribute to new and more effective treatments of these diseases

Helena Karlström

Helena Karlström is Senior Researcher of Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society KI-Alzheimer Disease Research Center

What interests me most in terms of research education supervision

I think it is a fun and stimulating challenge to develop myself into a person that is clear and honest in my communication with others. Moreover, to get other people to want to do their utmost for their best ability and take responsibility. There is a lot about listening and asking questions instead of just telling. It is much harder than you think but the only way in my opinion to get a good and productive environment in the long term.

My view of a good supervisor

A good research supervisor creates an open and honest environment where many different personalities, opinions and ideas fit. That in turn creates high creativity and good research. What I also think is very important is that a good research supervisors encourage and motivate their students / postdocs to work and think more team-work. That 1 + 1 actually can be 3. The academic structure is very individualistic but I think we need to think about this if we are to be a world leading research university. Furthermore, it is a very enjoyable way to work and "shared joy is double the joy" !!!

My main tasks

In addition to be a course leader on the supervisor courses, I am supervisor and co-supervisor for a research group, which right now consists of two PhD students, two postdocs and master students. In addition to supervising, I am a researcher involved in teaching at both the masters, advanced and doctoral level and is also a course director for a course in Neurodegeneration here at the department of NVS.

My research

My research is focused on understanding the basic mechanisms behind Alzheimer disease and another familial vascular dementia disease called CADASIL. In my group we look specifically at the cellular and biochemical processes that lead to these diseases. There is a common theme for both diseases and also for many other neurodegenerative diseases, that is formation of aggregated peptides. It is a challenge to inhibit the formation of these aggregates, since other important signaling pathways can be disturbed, which could lead to serious side effects. Our aim is to come around this by knowing in more detail how it works and hopefully lead to development of better and safer medicines for treatment of CADASIL and Alzheimer disease.

Markus Moll

Markus Moll, Senior researcher, Department of Medicine Huddinge

The most interesting aspects of doctoral supervision

One of the most exciting aspects of doctoral supervision is to get the chance to contribute to the education and the personal development of an individual. Being a competent and successful supervisor is also an important merit and promotes the own line of research.

What characterizes good supervision?

Open research environments where all coworkers are visible and feel comfortable require qualified supervisors. Good supervision will give room for own ideas and creativity, stimulate curiosity for scientific questions and the desire to answer these questions. At the same time, good supervision should make it easy to admit own limitations and mistakes that may have occurred; important prerequisites for personal and scientific development as well as research that we can trust in. Good supervisors need to be clear in their expectations and instructions and have the ability to sense and solve problems and conflicts in an early stage.

My main tasks

As active researcher at KI one has a number of tasks and it is difficult to rank them. Most important is probably to lead my own research group including responsibility for doctoral students (my second doctoral student is about to defend soon), postdoctoral fellows and master students, scientific success and economy. I am involved in teaching at the doctoral level and was earlier also responsible for a doctoral course. To be part of the course leader team for KI’s doctoral supervisor training is an exciting and inspiring task.

My research

I am a virologist by training and my research has always focused on different aspects of viral infections. When I started at KI my focus turned into the immunological direction, and it is of course important and exciting to study viral infections in an immunological context. Currently, we are studying the interaction between primate lentiviruses (HIV and SIV) and innate immune defense mechanisms on a molecular level. One of our major aims is to identify and characterize viral proteins interfering with innate immune functions with the future goal to develop inhibitors and novel treatment strategies. More about my research can be found at

Juha Nieminen

Juha Nieminen


Administrative officer

Elisabet Lindgren

Phone: +46-(0)8-524 836 38
Organizational unit: Unit for Medical Education and Technology (UMET)

Doctoral education