Who we are at the Centre for Health Crises

Our vision is ”A society better prepared for future health crises”. The Centre for Health Crises is KI’s collaborating hub for efforts both during health crises, as well as preventive work. We gather and connect competence and expertise both within KI and between KI and the rest of society.

About the establishment and purpose of the centre

Karolinska Institutet (KI) decided to establish the Centre for Health Crises in mid-June 2021. The centre was initiated thanks to the efforts and capabilities that had been developed at KI during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim is to develop a centre that can act flexibly and quickly in the event of future pandemics and other health crises, and act as KI’s coordinating node. The centre will be able to apply a systemic perspective on physical and mental health, as well as being interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and multisectoral. As early as February 2022 and due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the centre had to be activated to face another health crises – the health consequences of armed conflict.

The centre has been established at a time when the need for strengthened preparedness for, and increased abilities to face, crises and disasters have been highlighted in several national (Coronakommissionen, SOU 2022:6 om hälso- och sjukvårdens beredskap, regeringsuppdrag till Socialstyrelsen m.fl.) as well as international reports (The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, S20 Academies joint statement on Pandemic preparedness and the role of science, etc.). The role of universities has been clearly emphasised as important in order to ensure research, education and expert support to authorities and other actors in society. The centre needs to be able to adapt quickly and be prepared for the unpredictable.

Man in PPE holding a globe

By establishing the Centre for Health Crises KI shows its intention to take a civic responsibility and be prepared to contribute with education, research, and knowledge and expertise based on experience, to build a safer society. It can be understood as a kind of ”fourth task” for the university – to actively participate during ongoing health crises, but also contribute to increased knowledge about prevention, preparedness, response and capability – from a local, national and global perspective.  

The nature of the work at the centre will be multidisciplinary, multisectoral and span across a wide range of professions. In accordance with Strategy 2030, which states that KI’s work shall be inspired by and contribute to the global sustainability goals in Agenda 2030, the centre’s work will be based on interdisciplinary research and education with a base in global health. Consequently, the centre will in every way be based on KI’s over-arching vision – to strive towards better health for all.

Organisational structure

The Centre for Health Crises’ activities are not limited to one single institution, but rather they span across all of KI. The centre is also expected to assist KI’s management with advice and expert support in case of a health crises, and therefore the director of the Centre for Health Crises reports directly to the president.

External financing, including finance administration, is managed at the department where the director is employed (currently the Department of Global Public Health, GPH). To ensure transparency in the centre’s operation vis a vis the department, the head of administration at the director’s department is co-opted to the centre’s steering group.

The centre’s steering group shall:

  • Monitor, and assure that, the development and work of the centre is conducted in accordance with the mission statement.
  • Contribute advise and support for the centre’s development and operations
  • Participate in yearly reporting to KI’s management

The group consists of nine members, along with four co-opted members representing the department the director belongs to, SciLifeLab, Stockholm University and KTH – the Royal Institute of Technology.

The Centre is led and managed by the Director (Johan von Schreeb) and Strategic process leader (Anna Zorzet). In addition, a ’backbone’ of expert coordinators with specific expertise within different health crises’ subjects is being assembled. These experts work part-time (20%) with their remaining time in their core clinical and research expertise position. Already recruited are experts in chemical events including disaster toxicology (Mattias Öberg), health effects of extreme weather (Petter Ljungman), surge capacity in critical care (Märit Halmin), laboratory and diagnostic surge capacity (Jessica Alm), health system resilience (Helena Nordenstedt) and policy and preparedness (Maja Fjaestad). The Centre will expand this pool with experts in infection biology and pandemics, radio nuclear events and other areas.

Organisational chart showing the structure of management of the Centre for Health Crises

Networks and collaboration partners

In order to carry out our work, the centre wants to identify existing competence and infrastructure in various health crises areas, both within and outside KI. It will be essential to work across sectors, and that is why we take stock of potential collaboration partners and networks of experts. Our starting point is good, thanks to the KIRP resource groups here at KI, and we have already established initial contacts with for example the Public Health Agency, the National Board of Health and Welfare, the WHO, Médecins Sans Frontières, Essential emergency and critical care (EECC) network and more. 

We will also relate to centres in other countries that work to strengthen future pandemic preparedness (for example in Norway, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the US), as well as the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin, in order to make sure that duplication of effort is avoided and that we instead target our strengths.

Continuous global monitoring will be vital for the centre, in order to, for example, identify upcoming health crises at an early stage. Our expert networks and collaboration partners will be very useful in this. As an example, we are already members of the WHO affiliated Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), where members receive first-hand information from world leading experts on infectious diseases and other health threats that risk becoming, or already are, global threats.

Circular description of the organisation at the Centre for Health Crises

Contact the Centre for Health Crises

General inquiries

Anna Zorzet

Strategic process leader

Sonia Hammi

Administrative officer

Åsa Svensson

Communications officer

Mattias Öberg

Expert coordinator chemical and toxicological incidents

Märit Halmin

Expert coordinator critical care with limited resources

Petter Ljungman

Expert coordinator extreme weather, climate and health effects

Jessica Alm

Expert coordinator laboratory and diagnostic surge capacity

Helena Nordenstedt

Expert coordinator health system resilience

Maja Fjaestad

Expert coordinator policy and preparedness

Helena Hervius Askling

Expert coordinator infection and vaccine preparedness

Hedvig Glans

Expert coordinator outbreak preparedness and response
Content owner:
Åsa Svensson