Honorary Doctors at Karolinska Institutet

Every year, Karolinska Institutet confers honorary doctorates to individuals for vital scientific achievements or significant contributions to the university or humanity at large. Karolinska Institutet appointed its first Honorary Doctors of Medicine and Odontology in 1910 anmitted. Nominations are accepted from 1910 to 1949 respectively. Approximately 300 appointments have been made since then.

Nominations can be made for:

- scientific achievements, especially those with a relationship to Karolinska Institutet

significant contributions to the university and its activities

- significant contributions to the world, to Sweden or to society within the areas of interest of Karolinska Institutet.

Who already is a doctor in medicine at a Swedish university, or has been awarded an honorary doctorate in medicine at a Swedish university cannot be appointed honorary doctor in medicine at another Swedish university. Please also note that previous years’ nominations must be renewed.
Only a small number of the nominees will receive honorary doctorates and therefore the proponents should not contact the nominees before the decision is made.

Honorary Doctors 2020

Photo: Institut Pasteur, François Gardy

Pascale Cossart

Pascale Cossart is a world-leading expert in the field of infection biology. Through groundbreaking research combining microbiology and cell biology, she has shown how interaction between the bacterium Listeria – that she uses as a model- and human cells can cause an infection. She pioneered the research field today known as cellular microbiology. In addition to her work as professor at the Pasteur Institute, Pascale Cossart has acted to strengthen European research on microbiology and cell biology.

For many years Pascale Cossart has supported the scientific careers of young and female researchers. She has also greatly contributed to European collaboration within the research field of infection biology. During her career, Pascale Cossart has received several awards. Among them are the Robert Koch Prize (2007), the Balzan Prize (2013), and FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award (2014). Pascale Cossart is a member of the American National Academy of Sciences (NAS) as well as the British Royal Society. She also serves as Secrétaire perpetuel of the French Academy of Sciences.

“I felt really honored to hear that I was awarded this honorary doctorate. I feel honored because for me the Karolinska Institute is the magic name of a place where science is honored more than anywhere else. Receiving an honorary doctorate in medicine for someone who was originally a chemist is in addition quite flattering meaning that the science I did with all my collaborators really reached the level I was looking for and has been really appreciated,” says Pascale Cossart.

Photo: Joey Abrait

Sven Hagströmer

The economist Sven Hagströmer has founded the investment company Creades as well as the Swedish bank Avanza. Today he serves as chairman in both companies. Sven Hagströmer is highly dedicated to social entrepreneurship and was the founder of Allbright - a foundation that aims for equality and diversification amongst high-ranking positions in the swedish business world. He is also the founder of Berättarministeriet and the scientific publishing house Fri Tanke.

Sven Hagströmer is an able and passionate book collector. For many years he has taken an active interest in the Hagströmer Medico-Historical Library at Karolinska Institutet. Sven Hagströmer has funded purchases of notable works on medical history and enabled employment of staff with expert knowledge. Furthermore, he has founded an association called Hagströmerbibliotekets vänner (“Friends of Hagströmer Medico-Historical Library”), which organizes showings, seminars, and lectures in the library.

“When I first got the notice about my appointment, I thought it was some kind of prank. How can I receive such appreciation by Karolinska Institutet, just for doing what was fun? I aim to make the world a better place, which in itself really is a pleasure. This acknowledgement gives me strength to try even more,” says Sven Hagströmer.

Photo: Karina Åberg

Thomas Sakmar 

Thomas Sakmar is a highly qualified researcher within the fields of cellular signal transduction and G protein-coupled receptors. Broadly, these fields of research investigate how human cells react to stimuli from their surroundings and in response can activate certain proteins within the cell. Thomas Sakmar’s knowledge on protein chemistry, for example how antibodies against the peptide amyloid beta are produced, has been of great value to KI. He is a former visiting professor at the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society at Karolinska Institutet.

Thomas Sakmar is a researcher from Rockefeller University. By initiating bilateral exchanges of scientist between KI and Rockefeller, he has strengthen the collaboration, which in turn has given researches from both universities access to new methods, equipment, and important material. Furthermore, Thomas Sakmar has taken an active interest in the work KI in general by, among other things, hosting lectures on leadership and supervision. 

“I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude to receive this great honor from the Karolinska Institute. I have been fortunate in my career to have benefited from close associations with several leading medical research universities, and I feel a particular close bond to KI, which has welcomed me with open arms.  I have learned so much over the past decade from so many colleagues, and I am delighted that this honor will cement my relationship with the KI community. As a physician-scientist, there is no greater honor than being associated in this way with KI,” says Thomas Sakmar.

Honorary Doctors 2019

Paolo Chiesi

Paolo Chiesi has as part of the family company Chiesi Farmaceutici S.p.A. since 1987 supported research on surfactant. In the early 1980’s researchers at KI developed a substance called Curosurf, intended on treating prematurely born children suffering from respiratory distress syndrome. Curosurf is derived from the lungs of pigs, and a collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry became necessary in order to produce a sufficient quantity. As head of research at Chiesi Farmaceutici, Paolo Chiesi supported the project from the start.

Beyond financial support, Paolo Chiesi also launched Curosurf on the market and has continued to support annual international research meetings for neonatologists. With the support of Chiesi Farmaceutici, a synthetic version of surfactant has now been developed at KI, and is currently undergoing clinical tests. If successful, synthetic surfactant could lead to more premature born children being treated.

“I feel honored to receive this honorary degree from one of the most prestigious and respected medical universities of the world. I am grateful, as it is totally unexpected and crowns a life I almost entirely devoted to chasing after the scientific research, I think with a curious, open-minded, perhaps not fully methodical approach. Finally, I must say I am moved, as the excellent researchers I met at the KI in the eighties and with whom I have been collaborating since then have also become cherished friends”, says Paolo Chiesi.

Douglas Easton

Douglas Easton has over the past three decades focused his research on identifying genetic determinants of breast cancer. His achievements have dramatically improved our understanding of how breast cancer is inherited. Douglas Easton was one of the co-founders of the Breast Cancer Linkage Consortium that was active between 1990 and 1996. He played an important role in defining how mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes contribute not only to breast cancer, but prostate and pancreatic cancer as well.

In 2005 Douglas Easton initiated the Breast Cancer Association Consortium with the aim of identifying how single nucleotide polymorphisms can help in explaining breast cancer. His work has had positive clinical implications, both in Sweden and internationally.

“I am deeply grateful to be receiving an honorary doctorate from KI. I have been involved in fruitful collaborations with scientists at the KI over many years and I feel this award is, in part, a recognition of the success of these collaborations, which have involved some of the largest ever studies in cancer genetics. I am particularly proud to be receiving an award from the KI, one of the most prestigious research institutes in the world, in recognition of the international impact of our work”, says Douglas Easton.

Sophie Ekman

In four decades, Sophie Ekman has worked as school doctor in Sweden, including 30 years as head of the school health services in Solna. In 1987 she co-founded Stiftelsen Läkare mot AIDS Forskningsfond together with colleagues from Föreningen Läkare Mot AIDS. Sophie Ekman has been the fundraiser for the trust fund and with inspiring effort collected the substantial capital, which annually is distributed within the HIV research field.

Sophie Ekman has on her own initiative started several large-scale and non-profit public health campaigns related to school health services, which have involved numerous parts of society. On a broad front she has fought for improved wellness among children, for instance through the anti-drug campaign Just Say No and the world’s first anti-smoke campaign with parents as the target audience. Sophie Ekman has also contributed to the effort of earlier detection of neuropsychiatric disabilities as ADHD and autism in society.

“I am exceedingly happy and feel great gratitude about HIV issues again being in the spotlight. I thank KI from all of my heart. This international reward emphasizes the importance of traditional school health services. A local public health institute, until 2010 present in all Swedish schools, make a difference for the health of both children and parents”, says Sophie Ekman.

Honorary Doctors 2018

Suzanne Axell

Journalist Suzanne Axell has presented the programme Fråga Doktorn (Ask the Doctor) on Sveriges Television for the past 15 years. The programme, which attracts around one million viewers each week, disseminates medical knowledge and information regarding the latest research through viewer questions, reportage and interviews – often with invited experts from Karolinska Institutet.

The work of Suzanne Axell places the patient’s perspective at the heart of the programme. Her positive and welcoming attitude invites viewers to ask their medical questions, something that also provides valuable feedback to researchers and doctors regarding how successful they have been in communicating information to patients.

“I am incredibly honoured and delighted to be awarded an honorary doctorate. We have always worked to ensure that Fråga Doktorn remains a programme that anyone can watch and understand. In the programme, my responsibility is to the viewer. I dare to ask the straightforward questions that many people sit and wonder over, and it is especially gratifying to see this acknowledged,” says Suzanne Axell.

Yvonne Enman

Yvonne Enman is awarded an honorary doctorate in medicine. She has worked for many years to promote cooperation and communication between researchers and patients. Yvonne’s efforts as a scientific writer have contributed to the strong support enjoyed by research from patients and the public at large, including the field of rheumatic disorders.

“Research offers hope to those of us who live with chronic disorders. By telling people about the research being carried out and the progress being made, I can offer them hope. The fact that Karolinska Institutet has seen fit to confer an honorary doctorate on me shows the importance of creating links between research and sufferers. This is important, and a pleasing acknowledgement for me personally. I am delighted and overwhelmed,” says Yvonne Enman.

Herself a sufferer from the rheumatic disorder SLE, Yvonne Enman has among other things produced special research supplements for the Swedish Rheumatism Association’s magazine. Through a combination of scientific insight and empathy for the day-to-day problems of patients, her articles have contributed to both a public understanding of research and an understanding among researchers regarding the needs of patients. Through her participation in teaching at Karolinska Institutet, Yvonne Enman has also provided undergraduates and doctoral students with an insight into living with rheumatic illness.

Ingrid le Roux

Ingrid le Roux, Karolinska Institutet educated physician and resident of South Africa since the 1970s, is awarded an honorary doctorate in medicine. In 1979, she launched an organisation to provide healthcare to vulnerable women and children in a township outside Cape Town. Since then, the organisation – the Philani Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Trust – has grown to encompass a number of clinics offering maternity and child welfare services in the townships around Cape Town.

The organisation’s Mentor Mother Programme recruits local women who have successfully raised children despite the difficult conditions in the townships. They are trained to spread their knowledge and experience to other women through home visits. Today, these Mentor Mothers work in many parts of South Africa as well as in Swaziland and Ethiopia.

Through her work, Ingrid le Roux has helped hundreds of thousands of African women to use their own knowledge and energy to improve their own and their children’s health, and to create a more secure life. Philani’s methods have also been evaluated in collaboration with reputable universities.

“Becoming an honorary doctor at Karolinska Institutet is fantastic. I can barely think of a greater honour than to receive the acknowledgement of such an internationally recognised university. This highlights work with women and children that has always been at the bottom of the list of priorities for healthcare in many vulnerable areas,” says Ingrid le Roux.

Honorary Doctors 2017

Francis L. Delmonico

Francis L. Delmonico, M.D., Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and Chief Medical Officer, New England Organ Bank, Boston, U.S.A. Dr. Francis L. Delmonico is globally recognized as a forefront figure in the promotion of ethical organ donation and his work to stop organ trade, transplant tourism and trafficking in human organ donors. Under his leadership, policy documents have been produced in international consensus to ensure the safety and well-being of living donors, as well as upholding ethical standards regarding organ donation from deceased.

Dr. Delmonico was a founding leader of the Declaration of Istanbul in response to the World Health Organization (WHO) direction that member states protect the poor and vulnerable from being exploited for their organs. He is appointed advisor to the WHO, and in this role Dr. Delmonico has been crucial for the global implementation of WHO Guiding Principles of practice for organ donation and transplantation. He is Past President of leading organizations within his field, and he has been appointed by Pope Francis to the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Besides his international work in ethics and public policies on organ transplantation, Dr. Delmonico is widely published in the area of donor program management. Since 2012, he is an external advisor to a donation program within the Stockholm County Council, contributing to an increase in the number of organ donations in the region. Simultaneously, Dr. Delmonico has collaborated with a newly formed research group at KI, focusing on the development of new approaches to deceased and living organ donation.

Margaret A. Liu

Margaret A. Liu, M.D., D. Sc. (hon.) Global Health, Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics Consultant, ProTherImmune, and Adjunct Professor at University of California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A. The scientific work of Dr. Margaret A. Liu has yielded fundamental discoveries regarding the interplay between gene expression and immune responses, particularly important for vaccine and immunotherapeutic purposes. Dr. Liu, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, was the first to show the possibility of gene-based immunization against infections such as influenza, tuberculosis, HPV, and HIV in animal models. She was also behind the very first trial of a gene-based influenza vaccine in humans, in efforts to develop a vaccine that will protect against different strains. Her many publications in highly regarded journals have set off a global effort to develop gene-based vaccines and therapies for infectious diseases as well as cancers and autoimmune diseases in humans and animals.

Dr. Liu is recognized as a key founder of the field of DNA-based vaccines – in addition to pioneering bi-specific antibodies, a technology that has resulted in new treatments for cancer. She was recognized by Discover Magazine as one of the “Fifty Most Important Women Scientists”, is the recipient of a number of honorary lectureships, and has advised many global health organizations, including the WHO and being Senior Advisor for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

During the last fifteen years, Dr. Liu has been working closely together with researchers at KI, and has held different positions as a visiting professor at our university. Her role as mentor, reviewer and inspiring tutor within the doctoral education at KI cannot be overestimated. Dr. Margaret Liu has, among many other things, also played a prominent role in graduate and doctoral education within her field through her involvement in European community networks, including EUROPRISE and EAVI. She has also been active as a researcher and advisor within the private sector; currently she is the President of the International Society for Vaccines and runs her own consultant business alongside her academic career.

Honorary Doctors 2016

Sir Richard Peto

Sir Richard Peto, Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. Sir Richard Peto is an epidemiologist who studies the major causes of adult mortality; he is also a clinical trialist who evaluates widely practicable treatments. Throughout the past 40 years he has helped document the massive hazards of smoking, first in developed countries and then in the much greater populations elsewhere, generating big nationwide studies in China to monitor their evolving epidemic of tobacco deaths.

In the 1990s he showed that, if worldwide smoking patterns continued, tobacco would cause one billion deaths during the present century, and his predictions helped get the World Health Organisation and World Bank seriously committed to tobacco control. On disease treatment, he initiated many of the biggest trials in the world in heart disease, stroke, and cancer, and helped originate the science of meta-analyses, which bring together the findings from many different studies.

He has created a worldwide collaboration between the breast cancer trialists in many different countries, showing that widely practicable chemo-endocrine treatments reduce by more than half the risk of death from the commonest type of breast cancer. For his achievements in human medicine Sir Richard Peto has gained many international honours, and he continues to collaborate closely with breast cancer researchers from KI.

Robert S. Langer

Robert S. Langer, Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, USA. Bob Langer works at the interface between biotechnology and material sciences. He pioneered the development and synthesis of polymers for controlled delivery of drugs. These delivery systems include microspheres, nanospheres, and implants for treating cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, narcotic addiction and alcoholism. Hundreds of millions of individuals every year use controlled drug delivery systems.

He has been cited approximately 200,000 times (h-index 222) by other scientists, and has trained a large group of leaders in biotechnology research and in the biotech industry. The research and inventions of Bob Langer have transformed the pharmaceutical industry across the world and improved the life of many patients with chronic diseases. Bob Langer has received more than 220 major awards for his achievements in human medicine and bioengineering.

He is one of only four living individuals to have received both the United States National Medal of Science and United States National Medal of Technology and Innovation. He has over the years maintained a close contact with KI, where he has been an inspiring lecturer and teacher at graduate and post-graduate courses.

Alimuddin Zumla

Alimuddin Zumla, Professor in Infectious Diseases and International Health at University College London, London, United Kingdom. Alimuddin Zumla is distinguished for being one of the few individuals who has combined research excellence with creativity for establishing equitable research partnerships between Europe, USA, Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, and for effectively aligning them to capacity development and training activities. He has made seminal contributions to the understanding and advancement of knowledge of the epidemiology, transmission, pathogenesis, rapid diagnosis and treatment of respiratory tract infections, particularly tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, two diseases declared global emergencies by the World Health Organization in 1992. These data have been used for developing new global diagnostic, prevention and treatment guidelines.

Alimuddin Zumla has been awarded numerous honors, medals and prizes not only for his scientific excellence, but also for his contributions to international policy development and advancement of public health agenda on infectious diseases with epidemic potential. He has also been a major driving force for training of young developing country physicians, scientists and laboratory personnel.

Alimuddin Zumla works closely with KI researchers, co-authoring numerous high impact publications, and jointly with colleagues at KI has established the Host-Directed Therapies network consortium of 64 international partners.

Honorary doctors 2015

Mariam Claeson

The title of Honorary Doctor of Medicine has been awarded to Mariam Claeson, Director of the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, USA. Mariam Claesom has spent her entire professional career successfully introducing the results of new medical research to those who need them the most – women and children in low-income countries. After graduating from Karolinska Institutet with an MD in 1979, she worked in health and medical care in Bangladesh, Bhutan and Ethiopia. After a brief period in Sweden as a global health consultant she was recruited by the World Health Organisation (WHO) where she remained for 6 years. For the next 18 years she held positions as medical consultant in various senior posts at the World Bank Group, and currently holds a senior post at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Throughout her professional career, Mariam Claeson has been on the front line of implementing breakthroughs in medical research where they are needed the most, for women and children in the world's poorest countries. Despite never having had the time for postgraduate studies at KI, she has published more epoch-making studies than many of Karolinska Institutet leading researchers. Mariam Claeson is probably one of Karolinska Institutet's alumnis who, through her work for people in the world's poorest countries, has saved the most lives.

Barry John Everitt

The title of Honorary Doctor of Medicine has been awarded to Barry John Everitt, zoology and psychology graduate, and Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, England. Barry Everitt has studied the brain's signalling system using a pallet of different techniques from advanced neuroanatomical studies to sophisticated behavioural models. He was one of the first to show how hormones affect the signalling substances in the brain through which they control our sex drive. With the same methods he also tackled one of society's major problems, namely drug addiction. He was able to identify the systems that underlie compulsive drug-seeking habits and also the taking of drugs. Through his studies Barry Everitt has changed our perception of the neurobiological and psychological mechanisms in drug addiction. His discovery has also played a key role in developing new treatments for addiction and certain psychiatric illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Barry Everitt worked at Karolinska Institutet during several periods in his life. He was one of the first to introduce behavioural sciences to KI and inspired many researchers in this field. He has also forged many contacts with KI researchers and has held a number of positions of responsibility at KI. Barry Everitt has been the recipient of numerous scientific accolades and has had a place on a long series of important international scientific committees and advisory bodies.

Bertil Hållsten

The title of Honorary Doctor of Medicine has been awarded to Bertil Hållsten, PhD in Finance at the Stockholm School of Economics and later Professor of Economics at the Royal College of Forestry. Following a career in academia, and after leading positions in private and public sectors, Bertil Hållsten worked as an advisor and portfolio manager handling investments in research-intensive companies in the life science area. Alongside his investment work, he developed an interest in medical science – in particular the central nervous system and brain. He saw the big need for research, and in 2003 he founded the Hållsten Research Foundation. In collaboration with The Swedish Brain Foundation the Hållsten Foundation invested in bold research projects, particularly in the field of neurobiology. Many researchers at Karolinska Institutet received funding for their research projects from his foundation.

In 2014, when the foundation's assets were exhausted, Bertil Hållsten contributed additional funds in order to continue his activities and providing strong funding for four promising young researchers at Karolinska Institutet. In addition to showing unique generosity, Bertil Hållsten has also displayed great personal commitment to individual researchers both inside and outside Karolinska Institutet and has also been personally involved in their research projects by closing monitoring their progress and by conducting in-depth discussions with the researchers concerned.

Tak W Mak

The title of Honorary Doctor of Medicine has been awarded to Tak W Mak, Professor, University of Toronto and Director of the Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, Canada. Tak W. Mak has made fundamental discoveries in immunology as well as cancer research. In 1984 he discovered the T cell receptor, a discovery which prompted a dramatic increase in the number of studies into the immunological function and specificity of T cells. It was one of the most important discoveries in immunology in modern times and constitutes the very basis of our understanding of the immune defence system's ability to recognise converted cells, including those infected by microorganisms or converted to cancer cells. By helping to pioneer the development of genetically modified mice or "knockout mice". Tak Mak has also made a significant contribution to the development of immunological and biological tumour research all over the world. Tak Mak has helped significantly strengthen Karolinska Institutet's research portfolio by his unparalleled generosity in sharing his model systems.

Tak Mak is also a frequent guest at KI, both in the capacity of scientific expert, symposium participant and, significantly, as mentor and adviser to numerous young researchers. Many researchers from KI have also spent time in his laboratory as guest researchers. Tak Mak's sharp intellect, inquisitiveness and his humility have earned him the esteem and respect of colleagues and students the world over, including many of Karolinska Institutet's employees.

Honorary doctors 2014

Anders Lönner

Anders Lönner, Master of Political Sciences and formerly Managing Director of KaroBio, Deputy Managing Director of Astra AB, board member of the international company Valeant and, over the period 1999-2013, president of the pharmaceutical group Meda AB, has been appointed Honorary Doctor of Medicine. Through his entrepreneurial skills, Anders Lönner has played an important role in Swedish pharmaceutical research, the Swedish pharmaceutical industry and for the Swedish society in general. Anders Lönner has for many years shown a strong personal engagement in Karolinska Institutet, especially in the area of treatment research. He has been engaged in, and stimulated, cooperation between Karolinska Institutet and the pharmaceutical industry. He has served as an adviser for Karolinska Institutet on matters relating to innovation and has participated actively in Karolinska Institutet’s external activities, both within Sweden and internationally.

Zhu Chen

Zhu Chen, medical doctor and professor in haematology, Honorary Director of Shanghai Institute of Haematology and Director of the Shanghai Center for Systems Biomedicine at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, has been appointed Honorary Doctor of Medicine. Zhu Chen has conducted a series of research assignments at medical institutions in China and in France, the USA and Canada. As a researcher, Zhu Chen has, among other things, developed a paradigm-shifting synergistic targeting therapy for acute promyelocytic leukemia with all-trans retinoic acid and arsenic trioxide that turns this most fatal haematological malignancy to a clinically curable disease. During his period as China’s Medical Health Minister, from June 2007-March 2013, Zhu Chen initiated and ran a very forward-looking programme of reform work directed at China’s medical care system. He has also been playing an important role in Sweden’s and China’s joint efforts to improve public health. Through his efforts, a large number of young Chinese researchers have attended courses in research at Karolinska Institutet. As Vice-President of the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) he has endeavoured the cooperation between Karolinska Institutet and leading universities in China, including Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou.

William P. Magee and Kathleen S. Magee

Dentist and Plastic Surgeon William P. Magee, Jr. and Nurse and Clinical Social Worker Kathleen S. Magee have been appointed Honorary Doctors of Odontology. In 1982 they established the charitable organisation Operation Smile, whose operations aim at treating children with facial deformities in resource-poor environments. The activities are focused on children who have been born with lip-, jaw- and gum-clefts defects, which may lead to death as a result of lack of nutrition at an early age or to the children being hidden away and receiving neither proper schooling nor a normal social life. With the support of generous donators and medical volunteers, the organisation has so far performed surgery on over 200.000 children, at no cost to their families. The treatment has also included nutritional advice, play therapy, speech training and dental care.

Operation Smile is today a worldwide humanitarian organisation with its centre in the Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA. It constitutes a global network of International Foundations and Resource Chapters with programs in over 60 countries. In Sweden, Operation Smile has been in existence since 2010, with some 200 volunteers from different care segments. Many of these volunteers are actively engaged in work at Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital.

Honorary doctors 2013

Gro Harlem Brundtland

Gro Harlem Brundtland, former director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and long-standing Norwegian Prime Minister, Minister of the Environment and chairman of the Storting's Committee on Foreign and Constitutional Affairs, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine.

Gro Harlem Brundtland obtained her medical degree from the University of Oslo in 1963 and became Master of Public Health at Harvard University in 1965. Since leaving medicine for politics she has continued making significant contributions to health. Dr Harlem Brundtland was elected director general of the WHO in 1998, during which time she promoted sustainable and fair healthcare systems in all countries. As leader of the WHO, Dr Harlem Brundtland also took care to spread the solidarity perspective on research and health work, which has been very important for people living in poverty around the world and for Karolinska Institutet's focus on research in the field of global health.

Michael Orme

Michael Orme, professor of clinical pharmacology and former dean of the medical faculty at the University of Liverpool in England is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Professor Orme has worked with Karolinska Institutet for decades, and has been pivotal in placing Swedish clinical pharmacology at the forefront in Europe. In Sweden, his contributions have included the introduction of radio-immunological methods of drug analysis and participation in clinical trials of hypertension drugs.

At the initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Professor Orme has been engaged in a project involving teachers at Karolinska Institutet and other European experts to draw up guidelines for the function of clinical pharmacology in healthcare, teaching and research. His breadth of experience from London's Royal Postgraduate Medical School and from the University of Liverpool has been vital in determining the focus of doctoral activities in clinical pharmacology at Karolinska Institutet.

Honorary doctors 2012

Svante Pääbo

Svante Pääbo, director of the Max Planck Institute for evolutionary anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Professor Pääbo created the area of molecular palaeontology, and in doing so wrote an entirely new chapter in the science of molecular biology. He has developed new methods for extracting genetic information from ancient tissue, such as bone, skin and teeth, and one of his greatest scientific achievements is the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome from 40,000-year old skeletons. By comparing the DNA from the Neanderthal and modern humans from different continents, his team has shown that up to four per cent of the human DNA in Europe and Asia derives from the Neanderthal. They have also isolated and sequenced DNA from bones in Siberia and shown that they come from a hitherto unknown group of extinct hominids, who were related to the Neanderthals and who contributed up to five per cent of the DNA of people from Melanesia. Professor Pääbo adds continuously to the academic development of the multi-institute Science for Life Laboratory and thus to Karolinska Institutet's own academic growth.

Yoshihide Hayashizaki

Yoshihide Hayashizaki, head of RIKEN Omics Science Center in Yokohama, Japan, and member of the Science for Life Laboratory's scientific advisory council and former foreign adjunct professor at Karolinska Institutet, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Professor Hayashizaki is an internationally renowned researcher who has made important contributions to science's understanding of how genes are expressed from the genome. One of his more significant findings is that much of the genome is copied to the RNA. He has also identified new classes of non-coding RNA and a large number of promoters and gene sequences, the transcription of which start in the human genome. His foremost contribution to science is as head of FANTOM, a joint international project that has been analysing gene expression in mice and humans. Professor Hayashizaki invited researchers from Karolinska Institutet at an early phase of these projects, starting a collaboration that continues to this day as FANTOM5.

Thorbjörn Ekström

Thorbjörn Ekström, the former long-standing RE&D director at the Stockholm County Council, is to be made honorary doctor of odontology. Mr Ekström has played a key part in the collaboration between Karolinska Institutet and the Stockholm County Council, and has displayed particular aptitude as a network builder and negotiator. Mr Ekström has demonstrated a profound understanding of the importance of science and education to healthcare, and has done a great deal to strengthen Karolinska Institutet's position in research, education and development in dental care. He has held a number of important posts in the Stockholm County Council, including as the director of Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge. In his work, Mr Ekström has focused on the south KI campus, where the Department of Odontology is located. He has also made an active and fruitful contribution to the council's efforts to ensure that the clinical component of the dentistry programme maintains the highest quality.

Honorary doctors 2011

Margaret Gatz

Professor Margaret Gatz is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Her ongoing research has influenced an entire generation of scientists in the fields of ageing and the epidemiology of neurodegenerative disease, psychiatric epidemiology and clinical psychology.

Margaret Gatz has been a foreign adjunct professor at Karolinska Institutet since 2000, and has devoted many years to the Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Ageing (SATSA). It is to her credit that SATSA came to include measures of depression and dementia, which led to the Swedish dementia study based on the twin registry.

That study alone has generated over 100 publications and entirely new knowledge of how heredity and environment influence the risk of Alzheimer´s disease and other dementia diseases. Altogether Professor Gatz has co-authored over 130 articles on a wide range of topics with other researchers from Karolinska Institutet.

Katsuhiko Mikoshiba

Katsuhiko Mikoshiba, head of the Laboratory for Developmental Neurobiology at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Japan, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Professor Mikoshiba discovered IP3 receptor, a key calcium regulator, and found its importance in cellular activity and improper function causes diseases. He focuses primarily on calcium signalling in connection with neurobiological activity.

His research is widely discussed and cited, and he has received many prizes and distinctions. He has been a foreign adjunct professor at Karolinska Institutet for seven years.

Professor Mikoshiba has been a key figure in the forging of contacts between Karolinska Institutet and the RIKEN Brain Science Institute, one of Japan´s most cutting-edge neuroscience institutes. RIKEN is currently setting up a research school of the same kind that already exists within the neuroscience field with Karolinska Institutet and the National Institutes of Health as partners. For many years, Professor Mikoshiba has paid annual visits to Karolinska Institutet, delivered lectures and held meetings with a number of the university´s neuroscientists. His laboratory at RIKEN has shared scientific expertise and materials as part of its collaboration with several groups at Karolinska Institutet.

Jonas and Robert af Jochnick

Jonas and Robert af Jochnick are to be made honorary doctors of medicine. The work done by the af Jochnick brothers has made a significant impact on medical science and their deep sense of citizenship has helped provide children and young people around the world with better education and healthcare.

Jonas and Robert af Jochnick´s philanthropic activities were formalised in 2004 with the establishment of the Jochnick Foundation, which has since actively supported and financed a number of projects focusing on the young, education and global health. Entrepreneurship is held in particular high regard by the brothers, who often give priority to projects designed to help people help themselves and to support personal development.

For many years, the af Jochnick brothers have also been involved in research into the most serious and prevalent chronic diseases and supported young clinical researchers at Karolinska Institutet, such as at the Centre for Molecular Medicine. They have also taken particular interest in the ageing brain and dementia diseases, and become engaged in the development of geriatric care. The brothers have made it possible for a professorship in cognitive neuroscience with a specialisation in cognitive ageing to be created, thus protecting Karolinska Institutet´s leading role in this vital field of inquiry.

Iréne Lederhausen

Iréne Lederhausen is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. She has done much to promote research and highly specialised healthcare with deep commitment and impressive drive.

Iréne Lederhausen traces her dedication to the seriously ill back to her daughter, whose cystic fibrosis prompted Ms Lederhausen to train as a nurse and eventually establish the Ronald McDonald Children´s Fund, an independent foundation that supports research into paediatric medicine. She has also been project manager for the Ronald McDonald House at Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge, which has been providing patients receiving highly specialised care and their families with accommodation close to the hospital for the past 16 years.

As project manager for the Ronald McDonald Children´s Fund and the Ronald McDonald House, Ms Lederhausen has selflessly contributed to research and development at Karolinska Institutet. Her initiative is one of the first in Sweden whereby private companies help to finance research and development in the public sector. By inspiring many other companies to follow suit, she has helped to foster closer, more productive collaborations between the country´s key institutions.

Märit Rausing

Märit Rausing is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. She has been deeply involved and dedicated to the development of the Rausing family´s philanthropic endeavours from the start, activities that for many years have been generously supporting international organisations and scientific research devoted to improving people's health and life circumstances.

Karolinska Institutet has benefited from the Rausing family´s interest in science through the "Märit and Hans Rausing Breast Cancer Initiative". This has provided the resources needed for the university to launch the Karma Study - one of the world´s largest breast cancer studies - the aim of which is to reduce the number of women suffering and dying from breast cancer.

The Rausing family´s dedication to research gives Karolinska Institutet new opportunities to make breakthroughs in diagnosis and treatment for the millions of women who live with, or who will suffer from breast cancer.

Honorary doctors 2010

Andrew P. Feinberg

Andrew P. Feinberg, professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, USA, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Professor Feinberg is a highly prominent scientist who has created his own research field: cancer epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of the link between genes and environment and the part this plays in disease. Not only does Professor Feinberg´s work save lives, he personally encourages other researchers to push the boundaries of knowledge in biology and medicine.

Professor Feinberg is currently foreign adjunct professor at Karolinska Institutet, and he has demonstrated a strong interest in research and education at our university. He has also been a devoted contributor to the formation of Karolinska Institutet´s Epicenter, an epigenetic profiling platform at the Centre for Molecular Medicine.

Barbro and Bernard Osher

Barbro and Bernard Osher are to be made honorary doctors of medicine. Barbro Osher is Sweden´s Consul General in San Francisco and chairperson of the Pro Suecia Foundation and The Bernard Osher Foundation established by philanthropist Bernard Osher.

The Oshers have supported Karolinska Institutet for many years, and with their deep and extensive interest in science and culture they have made significant contributions to the university´s development. One outcome of their philanthropic work has been the establishment at Karolinska Institutet of the Osher Centre for Integrative Medicine, which conducts trailblazing research in the interface between physiology and behavioural science.

Over the years, the Oshers have demonstrated great personal dedication and generosity towards Karolinska Institutet in sharing their time and knowledge and their extensive network of contacts. In doing this they have been vital to strengthening Karolinska Institutet´s position in Sweden and the USA.

Anthony Pawson

Anthony (Tony) Pawson, Distinguished Scientist at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute and professor at the University of Toronto, Canada, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine.

Professor Pawson studies how cells grow and communicate with each other. He is one of the pioneers of cellular signal transduction, which describes how cellular activity is controlled by chemical signals - a process that causes disease when not functioning properly. Professor Pawson has held his leading position for many years, and even expanded it to other fields of science.

For more than 15 years, professor Pawson has made invaluable contributions to Karolinska Institutet´s scientific endeavours as a member of several research groups and as a source of inspiration. He has demonstrated great generosity and has placed the entire pioneering competence of his group at the disposal of science.

Stefan Persson

Mr Stefan Persson, chairman of H&M, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Stefan Persson has actively promoted research and development for many years, and as founder and chairperson of the Erling-Persson Family Foundation he has demonstrated great insight into the conditions of research and the importance of sustained financial support for bold, curiosity-driven science. With the objective of making Stockholm an internationally leading centre of innovation and enterprise, Mr Persson has contributed to the creation of the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship. This joint venture between Karolinska Institutet, the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), the Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm University and the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design gives students and young scientists opportunities to bring their research results to fruition.

For many years, Mr Persson has shown considerable personal dedication to Karolinska Institutet and has provided sustained support for its research and development. He has also been an important mentor for researchers. In demonstrating his own belief in future opportunities and possessing a unique ability to see the person behind the achievements, he has helped to bring out the beneficial and creative sides of research.

Irma Thesleff

Irma Thesleff, professor at Helsinki University, is to be made honorary doctor of medicine. Professor Thesleff has made unparalleled contributions to science and is a world-leading researcher in developmental biology, a field that concerns the growth and development of organisms. Her research is particularly focused on the development of teeth and the skull and face.

Professor Thesleff has served as a consultant and external evaluator at Karolinska Institutet and has been an initiator of the Nordic symposia, which have been particularly instrumental in enabling young scientists to develop. As faculty opponent she has demonstrated that scientific argumentation can be as captivating as it is enlightening.

Peter Wallenberg Sr.

Dr Peter Wallenberg, prominent industrialist and business leader, will be made honorary doctor of medicine. Aside from his successful career in the corporate sector, Peter Wallenberg has demonstrated a strong interest and deep understanding of the conditions and needs of research in many disciplines.

As long standing chairman of many of the Wallenberg foundations - by far the largest private financiers of scientific research and infrastructure in Sweden - Dr Wallenberg has for many years contributed to the long-term development of research at Karolinska Institutet. With his strategic mind, he has actively contributed to and aimed for future development of research at Karolinska Institutet to achieve highest expertise internationally. In addition to the need for internationalization, Dr Wallenberg has with emphasis argued for the creation of cross-fertilization between different disciplines of science.

Dr Peter Wallenberg´s endeavours combined with the research grants that the Wallenberg foundations have contributed to have been fundamental for the development of research in the field of medicine at Karolinska Institutet.

Honorary doctors 2009

Dr Håkan Mogren

Håkan Mogren, one of Sweden´s most prominent figures within trade and industry, is to receive an honorary doctorate in medicine. During his many years in leading positions at Astra and AstraZeneca, Håkan Mogren, who began his successful career within pharmaceuticals as a researcher in biochemistry, has maintained a consistently strong interest in, and fervent commitment to, medical research.

He is among those corporate leaders who, with particular foresight has realised the tremendous benefits of academic-industry partnerships, both for the partners themselves and for Sweden as a research nation. Since stepping down as CEO in 1999 to become Deputy Vice Chairman of the pharmaceutical group's board, Håkan Mogren has remained a tireless advocate for academic research, particularly research conducted at Karolinska Institutet.

Speech therapist Ulla Föhrer

An honorary doctorate in medicine is being awarded to Ulla Föhrer, speech therapist and researcher at Karolinska Institutet. During the many years, she has been active within the field of reading and writing difficulties she has contributed to the remodelling of methods for the investigation and treatment of people with such disabilities.

In her research, Ulla Föhrer has successfully shown the important role of technical aids in helping people with reading and writing challenges to utilise their cognitive capacity. Ulla Föhrer has also made crucial contributions to speech therapy training at Karolinska Institutet.

Professor Kevin J. Tracey

Professor Kevin J. Tracey at the Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine is being awarded an honorary doctorate in medicine. Professor Tracey is a neurosurgeon and leading expert within the field of inflammation research. His discoveries have paved the way for the development of new medicines to treat chronic rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and infection. He has made considerable contributions towards improving knowledge of regulating inflammatory processes.

Professor Tracey is also Director of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research at the fourth largest American hospital organisation, North Shore-LIJ Health System. Karolinska Institutet has enjoyed a long-standing partnership with both the Feinstein Institute and with Kevin J. Tracey.

Honorary doctors 2008

Professor Sreekumaran Nair

An honorary doctorate in medicine is to be awarded to Professor Sreekumaran Nair, Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, USA, who is an internationally leading researcher in clinical metabolism. He has characterized the protein metabolism on a molecular level in muscles influenced by hormonal changes, by nutritional variations and during aging. These results have had a great impact on our understanding of pathological processes and have formed the basis for new treatments.

During many years, Professor Sreekumaran Nair has generously and actively promoted a broad collaboration between Karolinska Institutet and the Mayo Clinic.

Professor Phillip Peterson

An honorary doctorate in medicine is to be awarded to Professor Phillip Peterson, University of Minnesota, USA. Professor Phillip Peterson has initiated a close collaboration between Karolinska Institutet and the University of Minnesota in the area of inflammation and infection, a collaboration that has ended up in a number of symposia in Stockholm as well as in Minneapolis.

He has also worked for extension of the collaboration to also comprise graduate education, with mutual student exchanges. Further collaborations on master and post-graduate levels are being planned as well.

Edvard Söderberg

An honorary doctorate in medicine is to be awarded to Edvard Söderberg, director of the Torsten and Ragnar Söderberg Foundations. Since 1960, when the Foundations were founded, Edvard Söderberg has been responsible for administration and contacts with researchers. Through the boards of the Foundations he has been the driving force for support to medical research and has promoted large funding to high-quality projects instead of distributing smaller amounts to several projects.

Edvard Söderbergs contributions have, in recent years, lead to changed policies of the Foundations in favour of many research groups at Karolinska Institutet and other universities.

Michael J Fox

The renowned advocate and actor Michael J. Fox is to be made honorary doctor of medicine at Karolinska Institutet in recognition of his work raising funds and awareness for Parkinson's disease as the founder of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF).