Our history

Since the start in 1997 at Karolinska Institutet the department has grown more than five-fold from 40 to approximately 280 employees today. Over the years the research programs have also grown and spread.


  • 2019 - Kristina Johnell was appointed Chair
  • 2017 - The Swedish Twin Registry receives support from the Swedish Research Council​ as an infrastructure of national importance
  • 2014 - Paul Lichtenstein began his tenure as Chair of MEB
  • 2008 - Henrik Grönberg was appointed Chair
  • 2006 - Nancy Pedersen was appointed as Chair of MEB, succeeding Hans-Olov Adami.
  • 2004 - KI Biobank was founded as a core facility to offer service for registration, handling, storage and distribution of samples
  • 2003 - The department moved into the current, permanent premises
  • 2002 - To mark the fundamental importance of the biostatistics group for the research at the department, for the research education and international collaborations, the department changed its name to Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (MEB).
  • 2000 - A biostatistical research group with international members was recruited.
  • 1999 - The Swedish Twin Registry which contains data on approximately 85 000 twin pairs, both monozygotic and dizygotic, moved to MEP.
  • 1998 - The first professor in the Department was appointed at Karolinska Institutet: Olof Nyrén
  • 1997 - The Department of Cancer Epidemiology at Uppsala University moved to Karolinska Institutet and changed its name to the Department of Medical Epidemiology (MEP).
  • 1994 - A new department of Cancer Epidemiology was established at Uppsala University
  • 1990 - The Autonomous Unit of Cancer Epidemiology was established at Uppsala University, formally within the Department of Surgery.

Heads of department

Professor Hans-Olov Adami - 1990-1997 in Uppsala and 1997-2005 in Stockholm

Professor Nancy Pedersen - 2005-2007

Professor Henrik Grönberg - 2008-2013

Professor Paul Lichtenstein - 2013-2017

Professors Kamila Czene and Per Hall - 2017-2018

Professor Kristina Johnell - 2019-

Some important publications

Effect of low doses of ionising radiation in infancy on cognitive function in adulthood: Swedish population based cohort study.
Hall P, Adami H, Trichopoulos D, Pedersen N, Lagiou P, Ekbom A, et al
BMJ 2004 Jan;328(7430):19

Radical prostatectomy versus watchful waiting in early prostate cancer.
Bill-Axelson A, Holmberg L, Ruutu M, Häggman M, Andersson S, Bratell S, et al
N. Engl. J. Med. 2005 May;352(19):1977-84

Pregnancy characteristics and maternal risk of breast cancer.
Cnattingius S, Torrång A, Ekbom A, Granath F, Petersson G, Lambe M
JAMA 2005 Nov;294(19):2474-80

A common variant associated with prostate cancer in European and African populations.
Amundadottir L, Sulem P, Gudmundsson J, Helgason A, Baker A, Agnarsson B, et al
Nat. Genet. 2006 Jun;38(6):652-8

Premorbid predictors of chronic fatigue.
Kato K, Sullivan P, Evengård B, Pedersen N
Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 2006 Nov;63(11):1267-72

Hysterectomy and risk of stress-urinary-incontinence surgery: nationwide cohort study.
Altman D, Granath F, Cnattingius S, Falconer C
Lancet 2007 Oct;370(9597):1494-9

Risk of cancer after blood transfusion from donors with subclinical cancer: a retrospective cohort study.
Edgren G, Hjalgrim H, Reilly M, Tran T, Rostgaard K, Shanwell A, et al
Lancet 2007 May;369(9574):1724-30

Oral use of Swedish moist snuff (snus) and risk for cancer of the mouth, lung, and pancreas in male construction workers: a retrospective cohort study.
Luo J, Ye W, Zendehdel K, Adami J, Adami H, Boffetta P, et al
Lancet 2007 Jun;369(9578):2015-2020

Cumulative association of five genetic variants with prostate cancer.
Zheng S, Sun J, Wiklund F, Smith S, Stattin P, Li G, et al
N. Engl. J. Med. 2008 Feb;358(9):910-9

Schizophrenia, substance abuse, and violent crime.
Fazel S, Långström N, Hjern A, Grann M, Lichtenstein P
JAMA 2009 May;301(19):2016-23

Common genetic determinants of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in Swedish families: a population-based study.
Lichtenstein P, Yip BH, Björk C, Pawitan Y, Cannon TD, Sullivan PF, et al
Lancet 2009 Jan;373(9659):234-9

Radical prostatectomy versus watchful waiting in early prostate cancer.
Bill-Axelson A, Holmberg L, Ruutu M, Garmo H, Stark J, Busch C, et al
N. Engl. J. Med. 2011 May;364(18):1708-17

Effect of screening mammography on breast-cancer mortality in Norway.
Kalager M, Zelen M, Langmark F, Adami HO
N. Engl. J. Med. 2010 Sep;363(13):1203-10

Suicide and cardiovascular death after a cancer diagnosis.
Fang F, Fall K, Mittleman M, Sparén P, Ye W, Adami H, et al
N. Engl. J. Med. 2012 Apr;366(14):1310-8

Medication for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and criminality.
Lichtenstein P, Halldner L, Zetterqvist J, Sjölander A, Serlachius E, Fazel S, et al
N. Engl. J. Med. 2012 Nov;367(21):2006-14

Risk of ischemic heart disease in women after radiotherapy for breast cancer.
Darby SC, Ewertz M, McGale P, Bennet AM, Blom-Goldman U, Brønnum D, et al
N. Engl. J. Med. 2013 Mar;368(11):987-98

Premature mortality in epilepsy and the role of psychiatric comorbidity: a total population study.
Fazel S, Wolf A, Långström N, Newton CR, Lichtenstein P
Lancet 2013 Nov;382(9905):1646-54

Mammographic density reduction is a prognostic marker of response to adjuvant tamoxifen therapy in postmenopausal patients with breast cancer.
Li J, Humphreys K, Eriksson L, Edgren G, Czene K, Hall P
J. Clin. Oncol. 2013 Jun;31(18):2249-56

Large-scale genotyping identifies 41 new loci associated with breast cancer risk.
Michailidou K, Hall P, Gonzalez-Neira A, Ghoussaini M, Dennis J, Milne RL, et al
Nat. Genet. 2013 Apr;45(4):353-61, 361e1-2

Autism and mental retardation among offspring born after in vitro fertilization.
Sandin S, Nygren KG, Iliadou A, Hultman CM, Reichenberg A
JAMA 2013 Jul;310(1):75-84

Antipsychotics, mood stabilisers, and risk of violent crime.
Fazel S, Zetterqvist J, Larsson H, Långström N, Lichtenstein P
Lancet 2014 Sep;384(9949):1206-14

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Violent Crime: A Cohort Study.
Molero Y, Lichtenstein P, Zetterqvist J, Gumpert CH, Fazel S
PLoS Med. 2015 Sep;12(9):e1001875

The familial risk of autism.
Sandin S, Lichtenstein P, Kuja-Halkola R, Larsson H, Hultman CM, Reichenberg A
JAMA 2014 May;311(17):1770-7

Telomere Length Shortening and Alzheimer Disease--A Mendelian Randomization Study.
Zhan Y, Song C, Karlsson R, Tillander A, Reynolds CA, Pedersen NL, et al
JAMA Neurol 2015 Oct;72(10):1202-3

Red Blood Cell Concentrate Storage and Survival After Cardiac Surgery.
Sartipy U, Holzmann MJ, Hjalgrim H, Edgren G
JAMA 2015 Oct;314(15):1641-3

Prostate cancer screening in men aged 50-69 years (STHLM3): a prospective population-based diagnostic study.
Grönberg H, Adolfsson J, Aly M, Nordström T, Wiklund P, Brandberg Y, et al
Lancet Oncol. 2015 Dec;16(16):1667-76

Familial Risk and Heritability of Cancer Among Twins in Nordic Countries.
Mucci LA, Hjelmborg JB, Harris JR, Czene K, Havelick DJ, Scheike T, et al
JAMA 2016 Jan;315(1):68-76

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