Karolinska Institutet awards medals to people who have made special contributions to support KI. The medals are available in three categories: gold medal, grand silver medal and silver medal. Medals are awarded in connection with various academic ceremonies.
Grand Silver Medal
Professor Emeritus Marc Bygdeman has been awarded The Grand Silver Medal for outstanding contributions to research, education and healthcare and for significant involvement in the World Health Organisation’s work in fertility and family planning.
He has dedicated his entire professional life to developing safer and more effective methods of abortion. During this time he has also worked unstintingly for the introduction and defence of the current abortion legislation.
Under Professor Bygdeman’s leadership, research at Karolinska Institutet’s WHO centre has resulted in development of the medically-induced abortion, which today is well-established and is preferred by more than 90 percent of Swedish women as it minimises the risks compared with surgical intervention. Every year, about 50,000 women around the world die as the result of unsafe abortions. Effective, safe and accepted abortion methods are essential for reproductive health. Changed abortion methods, which are more accessible, accepted and safe, thus have enormous importance for women’s health.
Associate Professor Tore Curstedt at the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery at Karolinska Institutet has been awarded the Grand Silver Medal for the work he and his colleague Bengt Robertson, who died in 2008, have done on their innovative treatment for preterm babies with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). RDS has been the leading cause of death among preterm babies for decades. It has been known since the 1950s that premature babies die due to the lack of surfactant, the substance which surrounds the inside of the lung alveoli. Attempts to synthesize the substance started in the 1960s, but these failed. However, when Pathologist Bengt Robertson and Clinical Chemist Tore Curstedt joined forces, they managed to extract the active ingredients from porcine lungs and develop a drug, Curosurf, which is used in more than 90 countries and is estimated to have saved more than half a million preterm babies.
Tore Curstedt has together with a colleague also developed a synthetic surfactant which is in clinical trials in United States and Europe. Unlike Curosurf the synthetic drug can be produced in large amounts and enables future treatment of adults suffering of lung diseases associated with inactive surfactant.
Torsten Wiesel studied medicine and began his a career in neurophysiology at Karolinska Institutet. In 1955, he transferred to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. In 1973 he was appointed chair of the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, between 1991 and 1998 he was president of Rockefeller University, New York. In 1981, Torsten Wiesel and David Hubel were awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their innovative studies of visual sensory processing.
From 2000 to 2009 Professor Wiesel was director of the Human Frontiers Science Programme in Strasbourg, and from 1994 to 2004 chair of the American Academy of Science’s human rights committee. He is also the patron and an honorary member of the Young Academy of Sweden. As a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, he has also participated actively in its work.
Torsten Wiesel has made many exceptional contributions to Sweden’s scientific community in general and to research at KI in particular. He has led advisory boards for the Department of Neuroscience and for the related strategic research area. In 2011 he carried out an analysis of KI’s research organisation and expressed opinions on it that remain relevant and the source of much discussion.
Rune Fransson began his career at Karolinska Institutet in 1978 as financial director of the then School of Dentistry. In 1983 he was recruited to a central position as budget manager. In 1991 he ascended to the post of assistant administrative manager, becoming university director in 1995. After many years in this position he was made director in charge of infrastructure, innovations and overall financing in 2007.
Rune Fransson led the KI93 project, a radical reorganisation of the university that, amongst other things, reduced the number of departments from 150 to just over 30. This structure has remained essentially unchanged to this day and has made an invaluable contribution to KI’s strength and competitiveness. In the 1990s, during Rune Fransson’s leadership, KI introduced a cutting-edge and creative innovation process that has proved indispensible for researchers seeking to commercialise their discoveries ever since.
Rune Fransson’s contributions have been absolutely crucial to the new building projects underway on the two KI campuses. In Solna, there is the new world-class research centre Biomedicum, which will bring together 1,600 people in an innovative research environment; and in Huddinge the Neo block, which is located next to the hospital so that researchers can work with pressing disease issues and bring their results and improved treatment methods more quickly to where they are needed.
Grand Silver Medal
Anders Ekbom, Senior Professor of Epidemiology at the Department of Medicine, Solna, has been awarded the Grand Silver Medal for his exceptional work within several fields of research and his significant contributions to the whole of Karolinska Institutet. Professor Ekbom has played a major part in developing cooperation between KI and Karolinska University Hospital. He started the epidemiological research school for clinicians, creating increased exchanges between clinical operations and research at KI and paving the way for many clinicians to start carrying out research. During the early 2000s, he built up the highly successful Unit for Clinical Epidemiology at the Department of Medicine, Solna. In recent years, he has been a key figure in the introduction of research at the New Karolinska Hospital. Professor Ekbom has been highly active and successful within a number of fields of research, and now has more than 500 publications to his name. For example, his research has been of great significance to the way in which patients with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis are monitored and treated.
Ingemar Ernberg, Senior Professor of Tumour Biology at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology (MTC), has been awarded the Grand Silver Medal for his invaluable efforts to strengthen and develop the university’s operations. During his nearly 50 years at KI, Professor Ernberg has served as chairman and member of many decision-making and advisory boards and committees at the university. As Head of Department of MTC, he has been a shining example of creative leadership, and has built up a research and development environment that has become a role model for other departments at KI. He has taken the initiative for new research programmes, for example “What is Life?” and “Culture and Brain”, participated in several national organisations and initiative groups, and been extremely active in international contexts. His work has strengthened KI as a university and as a global player, and he has forged many rewarding partnerships. Professor Ernberg has also worked for increased adult education and information dissemination, including through pedagogical collaborative projects with schools, writing scientific literature and popular science books, and taking part in a number of TV and radio programmes. Alongside this, Professor Ernberg has also carried out his own research of the highest international quality, focusing primarily on the EBV virus – how infections and other mechanisms lead to the development of cancer in humans.
Agneta Nordberg, Professor of Clinical Neuroscience at the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, has been awarded the Grand Silver Medal for her extraordinary efforts for patients with dementia. She has taken on the great challenges of Alzheimer’s research with tireless energy, contributing towards improved diagnosis and treatment opportunities for these patients. She is a world leader within the field of early diagnosis of dementia, and studies processes in the brain with PET scans. She has won international recognition for this pioneering research, and PET imaging is now approaching clinical implementation. Professor Nordberg has published more than 450 scientific articles, and has received many awards over the years. She leads a successful research team, and has benefited KI greatly through her involvement as a member of several boards and foundations, among them the Nobel Assembly. She is also a skilled clinician, focusing particularly on patients with early memory impairment. Here, she shows great commitment to her patients and is passionate about ensuring that they get the best possible diagnosis and treatment.
Bengt Norrving, former university director and administrative director at KI, has been awarded the Grand Silver Medal for his outstanding contributions to the university. Bengt Norrving was vice-chancellor of the University of Health Sciences before it was incorporated into KI in 1998. He was actively involved in the pre-merger talks and helped to make sure the UHS was fully integrated into the KI organisation. Bengt Norrving’s wide experience of the public sector, academia, the departmental sphere and the municipal sector enabled him to bridge in exemplary fashion the cultural differences that existed between the two institutions. On behalf of the Ministry of Education and Research he has, amongst other commissions, led the national ALF (the agreements on medical education and research) negotiations on two occasions. His unique knowledge of the ALF agreement has been vital to the successful collaboration that has existed between KI and Stockholm County Council for many years. During his years at KI, Bengt Norrving was a highly competent and proactive official, and his influence on the development of the university’s core activities remained extremely significant until his retirement in 2014.
Elisabeth Olsson, Professor Emerita of Physiotherapy at the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, has been awarded the Grand Silver Medal for her unparalleled efforts within research and education at Karolinska Institutet. She is regarded as a pioneer within physiotherapy. For eight years (1993-2001) she was Head of Department at the former Department of Physiotherapy at KI, and was subsequently Section Manager and Deputy Head of Department at the former Neurotec department (until 2005). During this period, she helped to develop the subject of physiotherapy, and the field underwent dramatic academic growth. Professor Olsson implemented a three-year bachelor’s level programme and a one-year master’s programme in physiotherapy. She also created different conditions for research in the area and successfully established combined senior lectureships for physiotherapists together with Sweden's first professorship in physiotherapy. The number of physiotherapists with third-cycle education grew significantly, and the profession began to be engaged within central administrative functions at all levels. Professor Olsson has been involved not only in educational issues and on boards and programme committees, among others as representative of the teaching staff on the university board, but also as a representative of the university as an expert for many external inquiries and committees. In recent years she has successfully resumed her own research within motion analysis now focusing on new training and evaluation techniques for the elderly, and this project will now continue following Professor Olsson’s retirement.
Gunnar Lennerstrand, professor emeritus, received the Silver Medal for his pioneering work over many years in ophthalmic research.
Elisabeth Kjellén, senior lecturer received the Silver Medal for her significant contributions to biomedical analyst education.
Grand Silver Medal
Gunnel Biberfeld, professor emerita of infectious disease control, especially clinical immunology, is awarded the Grand Silver Medal for her outstanding contribution to research and doctoral education in the area of HIV at Karolinska Institutet. She is one of the pioneers in HIV research, at KI and globally. At a very early stage, she realised the urgent need for research on HIV, and since the beginning of the HIV pandemic she has remained active in this area of research. She has fostered a generation of young HIV researchers at Karolinska Institutet, of which many are now leaders in the field. Gunnel Biberfeld's research into HIV focuses on a global perspective, especially considering her clinical vaccine studies in Tanzania. The research collaboration with Tanzania also includes a comprehensive doctoral program. In addition, Gunnel Biberfeld's studies on the prevention of HIV transmission from mother to child in Dar es Salaam, shows the importance of using antiretroviral therapy during both pregnancy and the postnatal period. The results of these studies have formed the basis for Tanzania's national guidelines for the prevention of HIV transmission from mother to child, and they have also contributed to WHO's recommendations in the area.
Britta Wahren, professor emerita of clinical virology, is awarded the Grand Silver Medal for her outstanding contribution to research and doctoral education in the area of HIV and cancer research at Karolinska Institutet. Britta Wahren is one of the pioneers in HIV research and particularly in designing HIV vaccines, at KI and globally. At a very early stage, she realised the urgent need for research on immune responses and protection against HIV. She has fostered a generation of young researchers at Karolinska Institutet, of which many are now leaders in the field. Britta Wahren was the first person in the world to show that a genetic vaccine that expresses early genes/antigens of HIV could induce new cell mediated responses to HIV in already infected individuals. These finding were taken forward to perform experimental and clinical HIV vaccine studies against the many types of HIV that prevail in the world. She designed novel genetic HIV vaccines that induce cell-mediated and humoral immunity of prolonged nature in healthy individuals. Together with the National Institutes of Health and the US Army, a new prime-boost vaccine schedule has been proposed for prophylactic vaccination against HIV. Britta Wahren´s focus has been on translational research, from molecular studies of HIV, tumour viral immunogens and immune responses to the development of novel vaccine prototypes to HIV.
S Gunnar O Johansson
S Gunnar O Johansson, professor emeritus of clinical immunology, especially allergology, is awarded the Grand Silver Medal for his outstanding contribution to the area of allergy research. He identified, in 1967, together with Hans Bennich, a new class of immunoglobulins, IgE, and showed that these are associated with allergic responses. He has established and grown the research area of allergy at Karolinska Institutet, and his successful research has contributed to making Karolinska Institutet into a world leader in the area. SGO Johansson’s groundbreaking discovery of IgE and the development of allergy tests have improved the health and quality of life for a large proportion of the worldwide population.
Gold Medal - Harriet Wallberg
Harriet Wallberg became a doctor in 1986 and PhD in 1987. She made her postdoc in Vermont in 1987 and became a specialist in Clinical Physiology in 1996. 1998 she was appointed Professor of Physiology at the Karolinska Institutet and shortly thereafter became dean of research. She then left the Karolinska Institutet for an assignment as chief secretary in the field of Medicine at the Swedish Research Council.
In 2004 Harriet Wallberg was appointed Vice-Chancellor at the Karolinska Institutet, an assignment she held until 2012. During her period as vice-chancellor, the university underwent an expansion and internationalisation. At Karolinska Institutet's 200th anniversary in 2010, she initiated a fundraising campaign that raised SEK 1 billion to the university.
Harriet Wallberg has and has held numerous national and international posts, as advisor for other universities and research funding organisations. She has been an adviser to the government of the Research Advisory Committee, the Globalisation Council and the Advisory Board for Clinical Research. She has worked at the Danish Research Council, research bodies within the EU and advisory positions in Singapore, Japan and the United States. She is an honorary doctorate at Trinity College, Dublin, University of Minnesota, Bowdoin College, Maine and Seoul National University. She has received HM the King's gold medal of the 12th size with seraphim band.
Grand Silver Medal
Grand Silver Medal
Gold Medal - Lennart Nilsson
The Karolinska Institutet Jubilee Medal (Gold class) was awarded to photographer and professor Lennart Nilsson. He receives the medal for his long-standing and groundbreaking contributions to the development and innovative advancement of medical photography. His work is of an exceptionally high standard and he is an inspiration to photographers both at home and abroad.
Grand Silver Medal
Dimitris N Chorafas
Nina Rehnqvist Ahlberg
Grand Silver Medal
H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf
H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf is awarded the Karolinska Institutet Gold Medal "for outstanding contributions to Karolinska Institutet's work to improve people´s health through research and education." The award of Karolinska Institutet's Gold Medal to His Majesty is to be seen as an expression of our gratitude for the royal patronage that fulfils the tradition of royal involvement that has characterised the history of Karolinska Institutet for 200 years.
For his entire political life, former prime minister Ingvar Carlsson has been devoted to issues of education, research and the future in its broadest sense. Ingvar Carlsson has been a great support for Karolinska Institutet in his involvement in LifeGene, a research project comprising half a million Swedes designed to examine how heredity, environment and lifestyle are linked to the major diseases. He led the steering committee with enthusiasm during the important start-up phase, and helped to anchor the plans for LifeGene with the medical faculties of other universities in Sweden. Ingvar Carlsson was chairman of the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research from 1997 to 2002, and his experience and wisdom have been a tremendous asset to Karolinska Institutet, which makes him fully deserving of Karolinska Institutet's Golden Jubilee Medal.
For decades Professor Bengt Samuelsson has been a mainstay of Swedish research and innovation. In 1982, Professor Samuelsson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his groundbreaking discoveries in the field of prostaglandins and related substances. His research has contributed to our basic understanding of central disease mechanisms, above all those concerning pain, fever and inflammatory diseases, and has led to the development of a number of important medicines for rheumatism, thrombosis and asthma. In 1983, Professor Samuelsson was appointed president of Karolinska Institutet, a position he retained until 1995, during which time he oversaw major restructuring programmes and extensive work on modernising infrastructure and internationalising operations. From 1993 to 2005 he was chair of the Nobel Foundation. Professor Samuelsson is well deserving of Karolinska Institutet's Golden Jubilee Medal for his outstanding contributions to medical science.
For many years director Marcus Storch has been a significant figure in Swedish medical research. Through the Tobias Foundation, which he and his family founded and now run, he has provided substantial research funds and financed important development projects in the healthcare sector. One such is the Tobias Registry, a national bone marrow registry based at Karolinska University Hospital that enables doctors to find suitable bone marrow for transplantation. Another is the endowment professorship in stem cell research that was established at Karolinska Institutet in 2001. Marcus Storch has held many leading positions in Swedish business, and has been chair of the Nobel Foundation since 2005. He is also an honorary doctor of medical sciences at Karolinska Institutet. Marcus Storch's commitment to Swedish research in general makes him a very worthy recipient of Karolinska Institutet's Golden Jubilee Medal.
Professor Hans Wigzell is an inspirational leader who possesses immense scientific ingenuity and visionary enterprising spirit, and who has helped to develop Karolinska Institutet on many different levels. As a researcher he has made important discoveries in the field of immunology. In 1986 he became director of the National Bacteriological Laboratory and led its transformation into today's Institute for Infectious Disease Control. From 1995 to 2003, Professor Wigzell was president of Karolinska Institutet, at which time he instigated a number of important changes to the university, such as distributing faculty funds according to scientific quality and activity. An issue close to his heart has always been improving opportunities for the commercialisation of scientific discoveries, which has led, amongst other things, to the founding of Karolinska Development, today an international renowned innovation system in the biomedical field. Professor Wigzell has been scientific advisor to the Swedish government for many years. Professor Wigzell's contributions to the development of Karolinska Institutet make him a very deserving recipient of Karolinska Institutet's Golden Jubilee Medal.
Grand Silver Medal