Research from cell to society – the story behind the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society

Join us on a journey through history to meet the people behind the research that today makes up NVS: the Department for Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society. We look at a selection of key events to reflect the growth of one of Karolinska Institutet’s (KI’s) largest departments.

Today, NVS is one of KI’s largest departments with more than 500 employees, several hundred affiliated researchers and approximately 2,000 full-time students. NVS has even been described as a mini-university in its own right, or as a KI within KI.

The Department’s development has been driven by a marked academicisation of subjects and courses, and close collaboration with the healthcare system. Its research activities have been characterised by a desire to identify new treatments for the growing group of patients suffering from a variety of dementia conditions.

The large institution we see today is the result of mergers with smaller departments, numerous organisational changes and national reforms of the college and university sector.

One of the most significant changes took place in 1993, when the KI93 reorganisation reduced the number of departments from approximately 150 to around 30. As part of these changes, the geriatrics, neurology, psychiatry and social and forensic psychiatry departments were merged under the name Neurotec. 

The Neurotec name was used for just over 10 years until 2005 when it was changed to NVS. The new name was coined by the then Head of Department, Åke Seiger, to better reflect the increasingly broad scope of its activities.

Several departments were added to NVS in the early 2000s. The Division of Physiotherapy became part of NVS in 2002, and the Department of Medicine joined in 2005, followed by the Division of Nursing the following year.

Today, NVS consists of the seven divisions: the Aging Research Center (ARC), Family Medicine and Primary Care, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Clinical Geriatrics, Neurogeriatrics and Nursing.

“NVS is a construct that has evolved as different entities have emerged and others have disappeared. Successfully creating a cohesive unit with a common name was quite a challenge. But when I came up with NVS, we arrived at something that everyone could reasonably identify with.”

Åke Seiger, Professor in Geriatrics

Bengt Winblad, first Head of Department at NVS. Photo: Ulf Sirborn

Heads of Department, NVS

1987–1999, Bengt Winblad

2000–2008, Åke Seiger

2009–2012, Kerstin Tham

2013–2019, Maria Eriksdotter

2019–present , Maria Ankarcrona

TEXT: Magnus Trogen Pahlén

Annika Clemes