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Vice-Chancellor's speech to the new professors 2017

Dear new Professors at Karolinska Institutet,

It is with pride and great pleasure that I turn to you today to express my warmest congratulations.

You have attained the highest academic position – a professorship – here at Karolinska Institutet.

It is indeed a position to live up to.

It is a position that comes with opportunities as well as responsibilities.

It comes with opportunities, because Karolinska Institutet stands out in regard to the infrastructure it offers and in regard to its visibility and impact on the international scene. It comes with opportunities, since Karolinska Institutet strives to provide the best possible conditions for their scientists and teachers so that they can pursue their own ideas and nurture their own fields of interest, in research as well as in education. This is the essence of academic freedom. But please remember: academic freedom should not be seen as a privilege for the few, but as a benefit for the many. When we – when I – safeguard academic freedom at home and abroad it is first and foremost because academic freedom is a prerequisite for societal development.

Freedom comes with responsibility. Excellent research is research that is carried out with an ethical preparedness. Research is excellent when ethical dilemmas are not glossed over but brought to the table for critical reflection and open discussions. When we are working at the frontier of science we are also moving close to uncharted ethical territory. My vision is that Karolinska Institutet shall take the lead in discussing the limits of medicine and in debating the societal impact of new technologies and breakthroughs. This is the responsibility of a full-fledged university. This is your responsibility.

Dear new professors,

Working at the frontier of science you instill hope – in our patients, in their families and in the society at large. Just a couple of weeks ago I was acquainted with research that had identified the genetic and molecular basis for rare metabolic disorders in children. Children for which there was previously no treatment could now be saved by nutritional intervention. This research was carried out at Karolinska Institutet in close collaboration with the Karolinska University Hospital. This is just one example of how new insight can be translated into better health – in perfect alignment with the mission of our university.

New insight must be translated into better health, but must also be transmitted to the next generation. Embedded in the very idea of a university is the concept that research and education are synergistically intertwined. To serve as a professor is a double privilege: you are in a position where you can push the frontier of science, and at the same time in a position where you can impact a new generation. I myself have taken immense pleasure in serving as a medical educator. I trust that you will seek the same experience. Working with students rewards and energizes and brings new perspectives to your research.

I wish you success in your new role and I expect you, as professors at Karolinska Institutet, to strive towards our overall goal of improving health for the benefit of humankind.

The very best of luck to all of you!