Award to Niklas Björkström for best thesis in virology
Niklas Björkström is awarded the 2011 Sven Gard award for best thesis at Karolinska Institutet within the subject of virology.
The prize of the Sven Gard diploma and 25 000 Swedish crowns goes to Niklas Björkström for his thesis "Human natural killer cell activation and differentiation in health and viral infection".
The jury´s reasoning for the decision is:
"Niklas Björkström has performed a careful and original analysis of the role of NK-cells in the control of hepatitis C virus infection with a translational approach including investigations of patient cohorts."
Congratulations Niklas! How does it feel?
I feel extremely excited. Sven Gard was the first professor in virology at Karolinska Institutet and to receive an award inaugurated under his name makes me feel very honored.
What does this prize mean to you?
It is a great motivator that will inspire me to continue my work over the years to come.
What is the main result of your thesis?
My thesis provides data that argue for the existence of a differentiation process that mature human NK cells undergo during their lifespan. Furthermore, in my thesis, I explore how mature NK cell differentiation and activation is modulated during acute and chronic human viral infections and how this might impact NK cell-mediated recognition of virus-infected target cells.
How do you continue your research now?
I am currently undertaking post doctoral studies at the Vaccine Research Center, National Institutes of Health, USA. From June 2012 I will return to Karolinska Institutet and start to work at the Liver Immunology Laboratory, a small unit within the Unit of Gastroenterology and Rheumatology, Department of Medicine Huddinge, that I will head.
The focus of my research will be to explore NK cell development and differentiation in the human liver and GI-tract under steady-state conditions and how these processes are affected in settings of disease.