NORDFERTIL Research Lab Stockholm


THANK YOU, Olle for the last thirteen years as Head of Department! .... and welcome to the group!

NORDFERTIL Research Lab Stockholm is now part of the Paediatric Oncology and Haematology division at KBH!

Congratulation on your successful PhD studies, Halima!
Title of the thesis: In vitro models aiming for fertility preservation

Congratulation on your successful PhD studies, João!
Title of the thesis: “Novel culture systems to model testicular function and organization

Halima Albalushi received “the best presentation award” for her presentation: “Laminin521 Stabilizes the Pluripotency Expression Pattern of Human Embryonic Stem Cells Initially Derived on Feeder Cells.” during the 19th International Conference on Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine (ICSCRM 2017). Dubai, DEC 25-26, 2017

“On December 12, Prof Kirsi Jahnukainen was selected as one out of the one hundred most important health practitioners in Finland in 2017".

Winner of the Basic Science Award for oral presentation (ESHRE annual meeting 2017): João Pedro Alves Lopes (NORDFERTIL Research Lab Stockholm, Karolinska Institutet and University Hospital)


Survival rates among childhood cancer patients have progressively increased over the past four decades, in particular as a result of the development of more effective cancer treatments. Three out of four children will be cured of their disease. However, success has come at a cost and some patients will suffer from adverse effects later on. One of these late effects may be treatment-induced infertility. Boys who have matured into puberty are offered sperm preservation before treatment starts. However, for boys before puberty there is as yet no procedure that may preserve fertility. Most childhood cancer treatments will have only a minor impact on future fertility, while some treatments are known to be very harmful as regards reproductive function. So far, boys facing such treatments have almost no chance to father their own biological children later in life.

To address the concerns of many patients and parents and to open a forum concentrating on infertility as a disease, or a treatment-related late effect in childhood cancer survivors, the “Nordic Network for Gonadal Preservation after Cancer Treatment in Children and Young Adults” was initiated in 2008 and resulted in recommendations concerning fertility preservation for girls/boys and young women/men with childhood cancer. Up to now, advances in females have been made, but a similar development is still missing for young boys. Therefore, the idea of establishing a scientific network in order to intensify and combine research efforts on fertility preservation for young boys was born. The network is named NORDFERTIL.

The research of this network is centralized at the NORDFERTIL Research Lab Stockholm at Karolinska Institutet and includes research areas including pluripotent stem cell cultures as well as the development of novel in vitro systems for male gonadal cell development and differentiation.

In addition to the research performed, NORDFERTIL will focus on the establishment of protocols for clinical applications. Therefore, the results obtained by evaluation of testicular biopsy material and cell culture experiments will be used to generate and/or optimize already existing protocols for clinical use in cooperation with all units included in NORDFERTIL.

The following questions will be addressed:

  1. Which are the best cryopreservation protocols as regards later differentiation of early male germ cells in vitro?
  2. Which are the best strategies to monitor cancer cell contamination in vitro?
  3. Which are the best strategies and culture conditions for human spermatogenesis in vitro?
  4. Which clinical efficacy and safety measures should be monitored?

Research projects

  • Strategies to mature pluripotent stem and immature germ cells into mature gametes
  • Gonadotoxic late effects in pediatric hematology and oncology
  • Hormonal effects in the female reproductive tract

The research projects are presented more in detail here

PhD projects

  • Effects of haematological and oncological diseases on spermatogonial stem cell populations in boys.
  • Novel strategies to preserve future fertility in boys and men.
  • Human induced pluripotent stem cells differentiation towards the male germ cell lineage.
  • Qualitative assessment of fresh and cryopreserved ovarian tissues from pediatric oncological patients.
  • Male fertility, late morbidity and ageing after childhood cancer.

The PhD projects are presented more in detail here

Group members

Research group leader


Jan-Bernd Stukenborg

Telefon: 08-524 827 88
Enhet: Institutionen för kvinnors och barns hälsa (KBH), K6

Group members
Kirsi Jahnukainen, Visiting Prof, MD, PhD
Lena Sahlin, Associate Professor, PhD
Elizabeth Oliver, MSc, PhD (PostDoc)
Cecilia Petersen, MD, PhD
Luise Landreh, MD, PhD (PostDoc)
Mari Wilhelmsson, MD, PhD (PostDoc)
Magdalena Kurek, MSc, PhD student
Valentina Pampanini, MD, PhD student
Yanhua Cui, MSc, PhD student
Hajar Ali Mohammed Ba Omar, MSc, PhD student
Melanie Poganitsch-Korhonen, MD, PhD student (HUH)
Femke Harteveld, Master student (Erasmus program)
Virpi Töhönen, Affiliated
Lars Björk, Affiliated
Olle Söder, Prof em., MD, PhD (senior advisor)

Former group members
Ahmed Reda, from 2016 until now Post-Doc at KU Leuven, Belgium
João Pedro Alves-Lopes, from 2018 until now Post-Doc at Cambridge University, UK
Halima Albalushi, from 2018 until now researcher at the Sultan Qaboos University, Oman

International collaborations

Within the EU-ITN grant consortium “Growsperm” (
MRC Centre for Reproductive Health (CRH), University of Edindurgh, United Kingdom, Rod T Mitchell
Center for Reproductive Medicine, Academic Medical Center (AMC), The Netherlands, Ans M.M. van Pelt and Ieva Masliukaite
Biology of the Testis Lab, Department of Reproduction, Genetics and Regenerative Medicine, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Belgium, Ellen Goossens and Yoni Baert
Hubrecht Institute, KNAW, Utrecht, The Netherlands, Niels Geijsen, Prof, PhD
Centre for Reproductive Medicine and Andrology, Westfällische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, Germany, Stefan Schlatt and Mina Mincheva
Within the NORDFERTIL project (
Representatives of paediatric oncology and reproductive medicine units with patients participating or planned to participate in the research project of NORDFERTIL:
Johan Arvidson, Akademiska Sjukhuset, Uppsala;
Helena Mörse and Patrik Romerius, Paediatric Oncology and Haematology, Lund University;
Marianne Jarfelt, Paediatric Oncology, The Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital; Gothenburg
Mikael Behrendtz and Hartmut Vogt, Paediatrics, Linköping University Hospital;
Ulrika Norén Nyström, Clinical Sciences, Paediatrics, Umeå University;
Linda Savolainen and Victoria Keros; Reproductive medicine unit; Karolinska Institutet and University Hospital.
Mikael Sundin, Haematology, Immunology and HSCT unit, KI;
Einar Stensvold, and Jochen Büchner, Oslo University, Norway;
Catherine Rechnitzer and Anne Jörgensen, Rigshospitalet, Denmark;
Ragnar Bjarnason, Landspitali, Iceland;
Živilė Gudlevičienė and Goda Elizabeta Vaitkevičienė, Children‘s Hospital Vilnius, Lithuania,
Juris Erenpreiss and Anna Valaine, University of Riga, Riga, Latvia
Andres Salumets and Paul Korrovits, University of Tartu, Estonia

Research fundings

Ongoing funding for research performed obtained from:
Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation (Barncancerfonden)
Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet)
Stiftelsen Frimurare Barnhuset i Stockholm
Sällskapet Barnavård
Stiftelsen Samariten
HKH Kronprinsessan Lovisas förening för barnsjukvård/ Stiftelsen
Axel Tielmans Minnesfond
Jane and Dan Olssons Foundation
Karolinska Institutet
Magnus Bergvalls Foundation