• The neuroepidemiology research group
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The Neuroepidemiology Research Group

We are a multidisciplinary research group interested in different aspects of epidemiology of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Our group consisted of epidemiologists, geneticists, neurologists, immunologists and mathematicians. The group addresses questions facing patients, physicians and researchers with an aim to forge understanding of mechanisms behind development of MS and its clinical course. We aim to foster cross-disciplinary collaborations between researchers, patients and clinicians through several national and international projects.

Our research

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system affecting around one million people world-wide. The disease progression varies between patients but often causes different degrees of disability. In the MS group at CMM we aim to contribute to the urgently needed advancement of MS research by applying translational methods based on large patient cohorts. In this way hope to cast new light on the etiology of MS by seeking to understand the genetic components of the disease. We are also investigating a possible viral etiology of the disease using experimental systems. MS treatments have improved significantly over the last decade, but they are still only partially effective and/or hampered by side effects, leaving a great clinical need for intensified research on disease mechanisms and novel therapeutics. 

What triggers MS?

MS is a chronic, progressively disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord, estimated to affect over 2.3 million persons worldwide. Despite much effort, the exact causes of MS have remained elusive, but there is a growing literature pointing towards a range of population-level risk factors. At Karolinska, we are leveraging the vast epidemiological resources available in Sweden to uncover risk factors for MS, and how they may interact to cause MS. By comparing persons with MS to persons without MS, we can look back over their lifespan and search for differences in environmental exposures, which may point to previously unknown risk factors for MS.

What provokes progression?

Some people live decades with minimal MS disability, while others progress rapidly.  Patients want to know what to expect in their disease, and what strategies they can employ to improve their health, and clinicians want to provide precise prognoses. To date, the only modifiable risk factor that has consistently been associated with a worse MS prognosis is cigarette smoking, but there is emerging evidence suggesting that comorbidity may play a role as well. Using the Swedish MS Register, we can follow large populations of persons with MS throughout their disease and examine factors which might influence its trajectory.

What are the social and economic consequences of MS?

MS affects a patient’s health, social life, and ability to work. In turn, it inflicts major social consequences for patients, their families, and society. As MS progresses, it limits a person’s ability to effectively engage in society. Symptoms of immobility, fatigue, depression, and cognitive decline prematurely draw patients out of the workforce and society.  We are interested in understanding MS progression, using novel methods which focus on the socioeconomic impact of the disease.

Our group

Our multi-disciplinary team has expertise in epidemiology, health economics, statistics and MS clinical care. If you are interested in joining our group, please contact Ali Manouchehrinia (ali.manouchehrinia@ki.se) or Kyla McKay (kyla.mckay@ki.se).

Listen to an inspirational lecture by our group leader

Listen to an inspirational lecture by our group leader, professor Jan Hillert. He is telling us about a new promising clinical research field. 

Digging for gold in registries and biobanks


Group Members

Group Leader 

Professor/senior physician

Jan Hillert

Organizational unit: Neuro Hillert
E-mail: Jan.Hillert@ki.se

Project Manager

Project manager

Anna Glaser

Phone: +46-(0)8-524 845 01
Organizational unit: Neuro Hillert
E-mail: anna.glaser@ki.se


Assistant professor

Ryan Ramanujam

Organizational unit: Neuro Hillert
E-mail: Ryan.Ramanujam@ki.se

Katharina Fink

Katharina's research is driven by the contact with her patients, addressing relevant clinical knowledge gaps. Advocating female patients with MS she is interested in research directed at pregnancy, health and socioeconomic outcomes in mothers with MS, as well as their children. In line with this, she is currently involved in a study investigating the risk profile of rituximab in women with MS that have been exposed to rituximab around their pregnancy. The study looks at delivery complications, birth defects and adverse birth outcomes in patients´ children, as well as structured long-term outcomes. 


Katarina Fink

Organizational unit: Neuro Hillert
E-mail: katarina.fink@ki.se

Sahl Khalid Bedri

PhD student

Sahl Khalid Bedri

Organizational unit: Neuro Hillert
E-mail: sahl.bedri@ki.se

Andrius Kavaliunas

Assistant professor

Andrius Kavaliunas

Organizational unit: Neuro Hillert
E-mail: andrius.kavaliunas@ki.se

Tim Spelman

Assistant professor

Tim Spelman

Organizational unit: Neuro Hillert
E-mail: tim.spelman@ki.se

Leszek Stawiarz

Project manager

Leszek Stawiarz

Phone: +46-(0)76-852 23 29
Organizational unit: Neuro Hillert
E-mail: Leszek.Stawiarz@ki.se

Virginija Danylaité Karrenbauer


Virginija Danylaité Karrenbauer

Organizational unit: Neuro Hillert
E-mail: Virginija.Karrenbauer@ki.se

Ali Manouchehrinia

Assistant professor

Ali Manouchehrinia

Organizational unit: Neuro Kockum
E-mail: ali.manouchehrinia@ki.se

Kyla Mckay


Kyla McKay

Organizational unit: Department of Clinical Neuroscience (CNS), K8
E-mail: kyla.mckay@ki.se

Stefanie Binzer

Latest Publications

Age Related Multiple Sclerosis Severity Score: Disability ranked by age.
Manouchehrinia A, Westerlind H, Kingwell E, Zhu F, Carruthers R, Ramanujam R, et al
Mult. Scler. 2017 Dec;23(14):1938-1946

Similar familial risk in multiple sclerosis subgroups.
Song J, Karrenbauer V, Manouchehrinia A, Almqvist C, Hillert J, Westerlind H
Mult. Scler. 2017 Nov;23(13):1782-1785

Income in Multiple Sclerosis Patients with Different Disease Phenotypes.
Kavaliunas A, Manouchehrinia A, Danylaite Karrenbauer V, Gyllensten H, Glaser A, Alexanderson K, et al
PLoS ONE 2017 ;12(1):e0169460

Clinical course of multiple sclerosis: A nationwide cohort study.
Manouchehrinia A, Beiki O, Hillert J
Mult. Scler. 2017 Oct;23(11):1488-1495

Importance of early treatment initiation in the clinical course of multiple sclerosis.
Kavaliunas A, Manouchehrinia A, Stawiarz L, Ramanujam R, Agholme J, Hedström A, et al
Mult. Scler. 2017 Aug;23(9):1233-1240

The Swedish MS registry – clinical support tool and scientific resource.
Hillert J, Stawiarz L
Acta Neurol. Scand. 2015 ;132(199):11-9

A significant decrease in diagnosis of primary progressive multiple sclerosis: A cohort study.
Westerlind H, Stawiarz L, Fink K, Hillert J, Manouchehrinia A
Mult. Scler. 2016 07;22(8):1071-9

The influence of immunomodulatory treatment on the clinical course of multiple sclerosis.
Kavaliunas A, Stawiarz L, Hedbom J, Glaser A, Hillert J
Adv. Exp. Med. Biol. 2015 ;822():19-24

New data identify an increasing sex ratio of multiple sclerosis in Sweden.
Westerlind H, Boström I, Stawiarz L, Landtblom A, Almqvist C, Hillert J
Mult. Scler. 2014 Oct;20(12):1578-83

Age-specific sex ratio of multiple sclerosis in the National Swedish MS Register (SMSreg).
Boström I, Stawiarz L, Landtblom A
Mult. Scler. 2014 Apr;20(4):513-4


Find us

Visiting address: Widerströmska Huset, Tomtebodavägen 18a, 5 Tr, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden



Clinical NeuroscienceEpidemiologyGeneticsHuman subject researchNeurodegenerative diseasesNeuroimmunologyNeurologyStatistics