Annika Östman Wernerson, President

Annika Östman Wernerson is president at Karolinska Institutet from 1 March 2023.
As President, I want to work for a strong and internationally prominent KI that is characterized by a strong sense of team-spirit where employees and students can achieve their full capacity, feel pride and a desire to contribute to the highest quality throughout our university, both within research and education.

Annika Östman Wernerson.
Annika Östman Wernerson. Photo: Martin Stenmark

As former Dean (2015-2018) and Academic Vice President of Education (2019-2022), my longstanding involvement in education has laid the foundation for gaining deep insight into the conditions for, and requirements of, KI´s core areas and collaborative partners. I have been a member of the Faculty Board, the Recruitment Committee and the Working Group for Competence Provision. I have also been the chairperson of the Council for Environmental and Sustainable development.

I am Professor of Kidney and Transplant Science and consultant of clinical pathology. I combine my leadership role at KI with research, clinical work as a pathologist, and teaching medical students and residents.

My medical research focuses on patients with chronic kidney disease. My goal is to use new molecular biology techniques to improve diagnostics and treatment of patients with chronic kidney disease and kidney transplant recipients. My clinical work on the histopathological diagnosis of tissue samples from children, adults and transplant patients with kidney disease is of critical importance for patient care and treatment, but also constitutes an important basis for our research. In my pedagogical research, which also has its foundation in pathology, we aim to understand how emotionally challenging situations affect student learning.

Research description

I am principal investigator (PI) for projects in both medicine and medical edcuation and have published more than 100 scientific articles. I am the main supervisor of three current doctoral students and three who have previously completed their PhDs. I have been co-supervisor of ten doctoral students, eight of whom have completed their PhDs and two of whom are in progress.

In my clinical work, I collaborate closely with clinical specialists in renal medicine, paediatrics and transplantation surgery, both concerning patients who have been biopsied, but also within the research network KaroKidney, which also includes basic researchers. I am chair of the network and PI for the so-called “Kidney Biopsy Project”, in which we systematically implement health care-integrated biobanking, and have collected clinical data for many years. Internationally our cohort is at the forefront of its field. By integrating molecular so-called “omics data” with histopathology, urine and blood biochemistry, longitudinal clinical data and outcomes, we generate clinically relevant data that contribute to in-depth knowledge of disease mechanisms and improved strategies for diagnostics, risk prognosis and individualised treatment choices (so-called precision medicine). In particular, we focus on some of the most common causes of chronic renal failure, diabetic nephropathy and IgA nephritis, as well as a common cause of loss of kidney grafts, chronic graft glomerulopathy. We have an established collaboration with Gothenburg University and AstraZeneca, which creates a broad and excellent opportunity for drug development. In international collaborations within the project, together with clinical colleagues in Central America, Asia and the USA, we study Mesoamerican Nephropathy/Chronic kidney disease of unknown cause, a relatively recently described disease entity that mainly affects young men who work on plantations. Our studies in Central America have led to the first clinical and morphological characterisation of the disease and our biopsy studies in Sri Lanka and India have shown a similar picture, suggesting a common aetiology. The genesis of the disease is not yet clear, but the leading hypothesis is repeated acute kidney injury due to heat exposure and dehydration. The research is financed by grants from ALF funds, Njurfonden, Gelins Stiftelse, Stig and Gunborg Westmans Stiftelse, CIMED and the Swedish Research Council.

In my pedagogical research, we conduct qualitative and quantitative studies to investigate how emotionally challenging situations affect the learning of medical and teaching students during work-based education, as well as opportunities for supervisors to contribute to student learning in these situations. As PI, I coordinate the project, which constitutes a broad collaboration between several universities (…). The project aims to gain a better understanding of student development and socialisation into their profession, and what educational programmes can do to better prepare students for their future professional practice. Knowledge generated from this project is now being implemented in courses for clinical supervisors and in the area of professional development in KI's medical and nursing programmes. The project is financed by the Swedish Research Council and by ALF funds.


The role of dendrin in IgA nephropathy.
Levin A, Schwarz A, Hulkko J, He L, Sun Y, Barany P, Bruchfeld A, Herthelius M, Wennberg L, Ebefors K, Patrakka J, Betsholtz C, Nyström J, Mölne J, Hultenby K, Witasp A, Wernerson A
Nephrol Dial Transplant 2023 Feb;38(2):311-321

Inhaled silica nanoparticles cause chronic kidney disease in rats.
Sasai F, Rogers KL, Orlicky DJ, Stem A, Schaeffer J, Garcia G, Fox J, Ray MS, Butler-Dawson J, Gonzalez-Quiroz M, Leiva R, Taduri G, Anutrakululchai S, Venugopal V, Madero M, Glaser J, Wijkstrom J, Wernerson A, Brown JM, Johnson RJ, Roncal-Jimenez CA
Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 2022 Jul;323(1):F48-F58

The emotional journey of the beginning teacher: Phases and coping strategies
Lindqvist H, Weurlander M, Wernerson A, Thornberg R

A fast and simple clearing and swelling protocol for 3D in-situ imaging of the kidney across scales.
Unnersjö-Jess D, Butt L, Höhne M, Witasp A, Kühne L, Hoyer PF, Patrakka J, Brinkkötter PT, Wernerson A, Schermer B, Benzing T, Scott L, Brismar H, Blom H
Kidney Int 2021 Apr;99(4):1010-1020

Change advocacy as coping strategy: how beginning teachers cope with emotionally challenging situations
Lindqvist H, Thornberg R, Weurlander M, Wernerson A
TEACHERS AND TEACHING 2021;27(6):474-487

Mesoamerican Nephropathy and Kidney Disease Progression: A Case Series of Individuals With Kidney Biopsies From Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Wijkström J, Gonzalez-Quiroz M, Leiva R, Trujillo ZC, Elinder CG, Wernerson A
Kidney Med 2021 ;3(5):871-873

Retinoic acid receptor responder1 promotes development of glomerular diseases via the Nuclear Factor-κB signaling pathway.
Möller-Hackbarth K, Dabaghie D, Charrin E, Zambrano S, Genové G, Li X, Wernerson A, Lal M, Patrakka J
Kidney Int 2021 Oct;100(4):809-823

Single-cell RNA sequencing reveals the mesangial identity and species diversity of glomerular cell transcriptomes.
He B, Chen P, Zambrano S, Dabaghie D, Hu Y, Möller-Hackbarth K, Unnersjö-Jess D, Korkut GG, Charrin E, Jeansson M, Bintanel-Morcillo M, Witasp A, Wennberg L, Wernerson A, Schermer B, Benzing T, Ernfors P, Betsholtz C, Lal M, Sandberg R, Patrakka J
Nat Commun 2021 Apr;12(1):2141

Talk of Teacher Burnout among Student Teachers
Lindqvist H, Weurlander M, Wernerson A, Thornberg R

Can empathy be preserved in medical education?
Seeberger A, Lönn A, Hult H, Weurlander M, Wernerson A
Int J Med Educ 2020 Apr;11():83-89

Conflicts viewed through the micro-political lens: beginning teachers' coping strategies for emotionally challenging situations
Lindqvist H, Weurlander M, Wernerson A, Thornberg R

"Dysmorphic" lysosomes in proximal tubular cells are not specific for CINAC/CKDu and do not provide evidence that CINAC/CKDu is a toxin-induced disease.
Wijkström J, Elinder CG, Hultenby K, Söderberg M, Wernerson A
Kidney Int 2020 Sep;98(3):786-787

Teaching portfolio

I have taught pathology in several educational programmes at Karolinska Institutet since 1986. Over the years, I have held a number of different educational positions: Director of Studies and Course Director within the Medical Programme, Director of Programme Studies at Karolinska University Hospital, member of the Medical Programme's Programme Committee, and Director and Coordinator of the Centre for Clinical Education (CKU). In 2015-2018, I was Dean of Higher Education and was subsequently elected Academic Vice President. As a teacher, I have developed student-activating teaching activities and innovative examination methods. In my role as Dean/Academic Vice President I have worked with the Board/Committee for Education, to drive a number of issues to strengthen education at KI: to clarify career paths for teachers, to increase research support for teachers and those with leadership positions in education, to develop a quality system for education and to create better conditions for pedagogical development. A transformational effort to develop digital education was initiated prior to the pandemic, and this work is ongoing.


  • Medical degree, Karolinska Institutet, 1991
  • Dr. Med Sc, Karolinska Institutet, 1990
  • Residency in Clinical Pathology, Huddinge University Hospital 1995-2000
  • Board Certified in Clinical Pathology, 2000
  • Course “Teacher of the Future”, Karolinska Institutet, 2000-2002
  • Docent, Karolinska Institutet, 2003
  • Senior Consultant in Clinical Pathology, Karolinska University Hospital, 2004
  • Professor, Karolinska Institutet, 2016
  • 2015-2017 SUHF Higher Leadership Programme for Leaders in Academia “HeLP7”

Academic honours, awards and prizes

  • Huddinge Hospital Supervisor Award 2003
  • Member of Karolinska Institutet's Pedagogical Academy since 2011
  • Karolinska Institutet's Pedagogical Prize 2012


Annika Östman Wernerson

08-524 870 98
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