Bo Christer Bertilson

Bo Christer Bertilson

Affiliated to Teaching/Tutoring
Visiting address: Alfred Nobels Allé 23, 14183 Huddinge
Postal address: H1 Neurobiologi, vårdvetenskap och samhälle, H1 Allmänmedicin och primärvård, 171 77 Stockholm

About me

  • Research leader ME/CFS and Pain and Movement disorders
    and Coordinator Academic Development
    I am a MD and a licensed sports medical physician. In 2009 I earned a PhD
    by defending my thesis "/*On the assessment of nerve involvement and of
    dysfunction in patients with spinal pain”*. /I now serve as research
    leader at the Medect Clinical Trials and Bragée pain clinic and of the Pain
    Inflammation and Fatigue (PIAF) network at Karolinska Institutet. [1]
    As a researcher, focus is on diagnostic methods and treatment of
    non-specific pain and dysfunction including ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, IBS and
    similar dysfunctions that often develop after whiplash trauma. I am the
    writer/co-writer of about 20 referee reviewed and about 80 medical
    student/resident scientific publications. I have served as reviewer of
    scientific articles and PhD opponent and am presently coordinator of
    scientific development at Academic Primary Care Center and on the research
    board for NRH Trauma Riks. [2]
    As a teacher, I have given thousands of lectures/seminars/courses on
    subjects such as pain diagnostics, sports and orthopaedic medicine and
    health promotion, injection technique, research planning, and scientific
    writing and presentation. I presently supervise three PhD students and half
    a dozen medical students and resident physicians in their scientific work.
    As a physician I have conducted more than 100.000 patient visits and served
    as National Team physician to the Handball and Track and Field
    Associations. Also as medical advisor to several patient organisations, to
    the Swedish Social Insurance Agency central office in Stockholm and on
    several regional and national boards tasked with reports and guidelines on
    the care of patients with pain, for example "Nationellt uppdrag - Smärta". [3]
    In 2002 I wrote the book "Att diagnostisera kluriga fall" (To Diagnose Tricky
    Cases") which has been used at KI and other medical universities. The
    book is, by request, being translated to english. To further the diagnostic
    accuracy and effective care of patients with "non-specific pain and
    dysfunction" I have, in cooperation, with dedicated colleagues developed a
    digital application named "/*Paint IT*/" and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
    algorithms to assess patient made discomfort (pain) drawings.
    1975 Top 5% grade point average, Brigham Young
    Univ. United States
    1992-1994 Chairman, Stockholm Sports Medical Society
    1995-2001 Team physician, National Handball and Track and Field Team
    2000 Swedish Family Medicine Research Award by
    2000-2004 Expert government central insurance office in Stockholm
    for investigation of patients
    with whiplash/non-specific pain
    2004-2006 Expert and primary care representative in Stockholm County
    Council work on medical programs
    for musculoskeletal
    functions, pain, lumbar pain, rheumatism, and whiplash
    2005 “Spine physician of the year”, Swedish
    Spine Association
    2012-2014 Expert, National Board of Health and Welfare, Council for
    radiology of the spine and
    chronic pain
    2015-2016 Mentor4research scholarship recipient at The Royal Swedish
    Academy of Engineering Sciences for
    pain app innovation
    2016-17 Expert and primary care representative in the national
    collaborative committee for future directions in knowledge for
    “National assignment on pain”
    2020- Member, decision body, Stockholm Region
    Innovation Fund
    Highest ranked research article in Spine on reliability of physical
    examination tests used in the assessment of patients with shoulder problems
    according to systematic review 2010, /“Reliability of physical examination
    tests used in the assessment of patients with shoulder problems: a systematic
    Most viewed research article in Frontiers Neurology /“Signs of Intracranial
    Hypertension, Hypermobility, and Craniocervical Obstructions in Patients With
    Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” /
    Education and degrees: Degree in Medicine at Karolinska Institutet (KI), 1983
  • Registered physician in medicine, 1985
  • Specialist in Family
    Medicine, 1991
  • and Doctor of Medical Science (Ph.D.) at KI, 2009.


  • My current main scientific activity relates to non-specific pain and
    dysfunction such as head, neck- and back pain, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
    /Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Fibromyalgia (FM), irritable bowel system
    (IBS) and other often overlapping symptoms.
    The overall aim is to better understand pathophysiology and develop more
    effective care of these health problems that constitute 30-40 % of diagnoses
    in primary care (VAL 2017). Based on the diagnostic methods I assessed in my
    PhD studies I have continued to use, refine and add to these methods in
    cooperation with leading experts from different parts of the world including
    the Nordic countries, Great Britain and the US (Harvard and Stanford
    Universities) and a large number of students. The network I have been
    privileged to help develop is called PIAF, indicating “Pain Inflammation
    and Fatigue”. Within the network we have daily discussions and once a month
    an open (international) meeting in which we present and discuss the latest
    research. To the monthly meeting I invite selected researchers to share and
    discuss their knowledge and hypothesis, please see [1]
    In the PIAF research network I serve as main supervisor for three PhD
    students who recently passed the half-time review, all three with focus on
    pain diagnostics and management. Four other primary care clinicians have
    entered and completed the VR founded Primary care research school at KI with
    my help and presently I am main supervisor of 5 research projects by
    residents and medical students. In the last 6 months we have started 2 new
    research projects on ME/CFS and Covid 19 where I act as chair or coordinator.
    A unique database on above 6000 patients with ME/CFS, chronic pain and/or
    exertion syndrome has been developed at the Bragée clinics in Stockholm
    since I accepted a part time position as research leader there in 2018. The
    database is to our knowledge, by far, the world’s largest database on
    patients with ME/CFS and the like. It contains clinical, radiological and
    laboratory data and more than 40 validated questionaries filled out at
    different times during the assessment process of the patients referred to the
    clinic from all of Sweden. The database has been developed in cooperation
    with statistic and logistic experts and relevant patient organisation
    representatives and contains millions of easily accessed datapoints. The cost
    for the work has been covered by Medect clinical trials. I have presented our
    database to government officials, the National Board of Health and Welfare
    and the Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Assessment of
    Social Services (SBU) in several meetings with the purpose to invite other
    clinics to register and broaden it to become a national register.
    August 2020 we published an article in Frontiers Neurology (a highly ranked
    journal in the field of neurology) based on data from the first 200+
    patients in our ME/CSF cohort. In the article we present a new hypothesis on
    a possible pathological pathway to ME/CFS, FM, widespread pain and fatigue.
    Within a couple of months after publication the article became the most
    viewed article in the history of Frontiers Neurology. By Mars 2021, the
    article had >
  • 33.000
    Our findings have contributed to the initiation of a new internet based
    international research group where hypothesis and research collaboration
    opportunities has developed, the [3].
    In addition to the PIAF research network and the MECFSbrainspine network I
    serve as medical advisor to a number of patient organisations and on the
    research board for NRH Trauma Riks with the aim to support research and
    education on the effects, diagnostic and treatment methods of injuries to the
    head neck and spine. [4] In this
    position I have been the NRH representative to inform about and propose
    national strategies to government representatives including the Minister of
    Social Affairs.
    *Scientific publications, referee reviewed in chronologic order*
    *Bertilson BC*, Grunnesjö M, Strender LE. /Reliability of clinical tests in
    the assessment of patients with neck/shoulder problems – impact of
    history./ Spine. 2003 Oct 1
  • 28(19):2222-31
    PMID: 14520035 DOI: 10.1097/01.BRS.0000089685.55629.2E [5]
    *Bertilson BC*, Bring J, Sjöblom A, Sundell K, Strender LE. /Inter-examiner
    reliability in the assessment of low back pain (LBP) using the
    Kirkaldy-Willis Classification (KWC)./ Eur Spine J. 2006 Nov
  • 15(11):1695-703
    PMID: 16435110 DOI: 10.1007/s00586-005-0050-3 [6]
    *Bertilson BC*, Grunnesjö M, Johansson SE, Strender LE. /Pain drawing in the
    assessment of neurogenic pain and dysfunction in the neck/shoulder region:
    inter-examiner reliability and concordance with clinical examination. /Pain
    Med. 2007 Mar
  • 8(2):134-46
    PMID: 17305685 DOI: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2006.00145.x [7]
    *Bertilson BC*, Brosjö E, Billing H, Strender LE. /Assessment of nerve
    involvement in the lumbar spine: agreement between magnetic resonance
    imaging, physical examination and pain drawing findings. /BMC Musculoskelet
    Disord. 2010 Sep 10
  • 11:202
    PMID: 20831785 PMCID: PMC2944219 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2474-11-202
    *Bertilson BC*, Claesson A, Claesson C, Sjövald E. /Correlation of MRI
    findings of intervertebral disc water content and disc height with self-rated
    quality of life, pain, and disability./ British Journal of Medicine and
    Medical Research. 2014 Feb 22
  • 4(14):2639-2652
    *Bertilson BC*, Heidermark A, Stockhaus M. /Irritable bowel syndrome – a
    neurological spine problem?/ British Journal of Medicine and Medical
    Research. 2014 May 29
  • 4(24):4154-4168
    DOI : 10.9734/BJMMR/2014/9746
    Nawaz H, Umer M, Noordin S, *Bertilson BC*, Li J, Ahmed AS, Ahmed M.
    /Synovial Neuronal Changes in Knee Joint Osteoarthritis./ Open Journal of
    Rheumatology and Autoimmune Diseases. 2016 May 27
  • 6(2):26-33 [11]
    Bernhoff G, Landén Ludvigsson M, Peterson G, *Bertilson BC*, Elf M, Peolsson
    A. /The pain drawing as an instrument for identifying cervical spine nerve
    involvement in chronic whiplash-associated disorders./ Journal of Pain
    Research. 2016 May 30
  • 9(1):397-404
    PMID: 27358576 PMCID: PMC4912326 DOI: 10.2147/JPR.S104747
    Zhang C, Kjellström H, Ek CH, *Bertilson BC*. /Diagnostic Prediction Using
    Discomfort Drawing with IBTM/, JMLR W&
  • C Track Volume 56, Proceedings of
    Machine Learning for Healthcare 2016 [13]
    Zhang C, Kjellström H, *Bertilson BC*. /Diagnostic Prediction Using
    Discomfort Drawings/. NIPS 2016 Workshop on Machine Learning for Health,
    arXiv:1612.01356 [14]
    Olsson JE, Wallentin FY, Toth-Pal E, Ekblad S, *Bertilson BC*. /Psychometric
    analysis of the Swedish version of the General Medical Council's multi source
    feedback questionnaires./ International Journal of Medical Education. 2017
    Oct 07
  • 8:252-261
    PMID: 28704204 PMCID: PMC5511742 DOI: 10.5116/ijme.5948.0bb6
    Klasson M, Zhang K, *Bertilson BC*, Zhang C, Kjellström H. /Causality
    Refined Diagnostic Prediction./ NIPS ML4H 2017 [16]
    Olsson JE, Ekblad S, *Bertilson BC*, Toth-Pal E. /Swedish adaptation of the
    General Medical Council's multisource feedback questionnaires: a qualitative
    study. /International Journal of Medical Education. 2018 June 15
  • 9:161–169
    PMID: 29908128 PMCID: PMC6129165 DOI: 10.5116/ijme.5af6.c209
    Olofsson H, Carlsson L, *Bertilson BC*. /Multimorbidity among Patients with
    Back Pain. A Study of Records at a Swedish Primary Health Care Centre./ J
    Family Med Prim Care: Open Acc. 2018 July 23
  • 118
    DOI: 10.29011/JFOA-118. 100018
    *Citation:* Olofsson H, Carlsson L, Bertilson BC (2018) Multimorbidity among
    Patients with Back Pain: A Study of Records at a Swedish Primary Health Care
    Centre. J Family Med Prim Care Open Acc 2: 118. DOI:
    Ekblad S, Reventlid M, Lönnborg J, *Bertilson BC*. /Three Interrelated
    Experiences to Live with Chronic Pain - A Qualitative Pilot Study with a
    Group of Patients with Refugee Status in Swedish Primary Care. /EC Psychology
    and Psychiatry. 2018 Oct 31
  • 7(11): 896-903 [19]
    Patomella, AH, Mickols G, Asaba E, Nilsson G, Fridén C, Kottorp A,
    *Bertilson BC*, Tham K. /General practitioners’ reasoning on risk
    screening and primary prevention of stroke – a focus group study/. BMC
    Family Practice. 2018 Dec 4
  • 19(1)
    PMID: 30514217 PMCID: PMC6278124 DOI: 10.1186/s12875-018-0883-6 [20]
    Carlsson L, Olofsson H, *Bertilson BC*. /Multimorbidity Patterns in Patients
    with Back Pain: A Study of Patient Records at a Primary Health Care Centre in
    Sweden./ J Family Med Prim Care: Open Acc. 2019 Feb 21
  • 3:126
    DOI: 10.29011/JFOA-126/100026
    *Citation:* Carlsson L, Olofsson H, Bertilson BC (2019) Multimorbidity
    Patterns in Patients with Back Pain: A Study of Patient Records at a Primary
    Health Care Centre in Sweden. J Family Med Prim Care Open Access 3: 126. DOI:
    Bernhoff G, Saripanidis C, *Bertilson BC*. /"As if neck injuries did not
    exist": An interview study of patients' and relatives' perceptions of web
    information on and management of whiplash injuries in Sweden./ Interact J Med
    Res. 2019 May 21
  • 8(2):e9881
    PMID: 31115342 DOI: 10.2196/ijmr.9881 [22]
    Tu R, Zhang K, *Bertilson BC*, Kjellström H, Zhang C. /Neuropathic Pain
    Diagnosis Simulator for Causal Discovery Algorithm Evaluation. /June 2019 [23]
    Bragée B, Michos A, Drum B, Fahlgren M, Szulkin R, *Bertilson BC. */Signs
    of Intracranial Hypertension, Hypermobility and Craniocervical Obstructions
    in patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. /Front.
    Neurol. 11:828.doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020. Published:28 August 2020 [24]
    Preprint: [25]
    Maria Flink, Ph.D.
  • Sebastian Lindblom
  • Malin Tistad, Ph.D.
  • Ann Charlotte
    Laska, Ph.D.
  • *Bo Christer Bertilson*, Ph.D.
  • Jan Hasselström, Ph.D.
  • Marie
    Elf, Ph.D.
  • Lena von Koch, Ph.D.
  • Charlotte Ytterberg, Ph.D. /Person-centred
    care transitions for people with stroke: development and evaluation of a
    co-designed intervention/. Submitted to NURL-D-19-01230
    Ruibo Tu, Kun Zhang, Paul Ackermann, *Bo Bertilson*, Clark Glymour, Hedvig
    Kjellström, and Cheng Zhang. /Causal discovery in the presence of missing
    data. /Submitted to Journal of Machine Learning Research, Tue, 23 Jun 2020,
    preprint: [26]
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  • My teaching competence is primarily in the area of pain and orthopaedic
    assessment, including assessment of clinical and radiological findings.
    Secondly in teaching scientific planning and writing. My current teaching
    includes lectures, seminars and supervision of medical and PhD students and
    residents in their research projects.
    Teaching is my favorite work. I believe it is the greatest calling, a
    privilege and an opportunity to improve and elevate mankind and society, or
    as Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you
    can use to change the world”.
    My teaching experience goes back to my time as a teenage scout leader, when
    “learning by doing” was the motto. Later, during medical school, I taught
    physics, biology, math and more to college students part-time. Since becoming
    a physician in the 1980s, I have spent thousands of hours preparing course
    and lesson material and teaching medicine to KI and Region Stockholm students
    and health professionals, mainly the subjects of pain, orthopaedics and
    sports medicine. Since the 1970s, I have also taught weekly in the community
    on healthy living, drugs, non-violence and spiritual and ethical topics to
    groups of 10 to a 1000 persons.
    Since my dissertation in 2009 I have spent a total of about 1200 hours on
    active clinical and scientific teaching and about 800 hours supervising 1 to
    3 medical students each semester.



  • Affiliated to Teaching/Tutoring, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, 2023-2024

Degrees and Education

  • Degree Of Doctor Of Philosophy, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, 2009
  • Licentiate Degree, Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology, Karolinska Institutet, 2003

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