Carolina Hagberg

Carolina Hagberg

Principal Researcher | Docent
Visiting address: BioClinicum, Plan 8,Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset Solna, 17176 Stockholm
Postal address: K2 Medicin, Solna, K2 Kardiov m Hagberg C, 171 77 Stockholm

About me

  • The Hagberg team integrates vascular biology with nutrient biochemistry to study how our adipose tissue handles overnutrition, and if we can uncouple obesity from the development of metabolic diseases.

    Originally from Helsinki, Finland, I did my Ph.D. with Ulf Eriksson at MBB, Karolinska Institutet (KI) studying the metabolic role of the vascular growth factor VEGF-B, which was published in two consecutive Nature papers (Hagberg et al, Nature 2010 &
  • 2012). I then went on for a postdoctoral visit to EPFL in Switzerland in the laboratory of Profs. Auwerx and Schoonjans to study energy metabolism and mitochondrial function. Returning to KI I joined the lab of Kirsty Spalding (at that time situated at ICMC in KI Huddinge) to study human adipose tissue and its role in metabolic disease, finding that mature adipocytes endoreplicate during obesity and in response to chronic insulin stimulation can become senescent (Li &
  • Hagberg et al, Nature Medicine 2021). I also was involved in developing novel methods to study mature adipocytes, a notoriously difficult cell type to study due to their high lipid content (Hagberg et al, Cell Reports 2018).

    In 2019, after receiving a KI faculty-funded position as Assistant Professor, I got the chance to set up my own lab, relocating to the Cardiovascular
    Medicine Division at the Department of Medicine Solna (and also part of CMM), where I now head a group of nice scientists. In 2019 I also received a VR Starting Grant, and our research has been awarded numerous other grants such Diabetes Wellness Foundation, EFSD, Novo Nordisk Foundation, Åke Wiberg, Jeanssons Stiftelser and KI KID funding. The lab has just published our first paper, describing a novel 3D in vitro model to study human
    adipose tissue development and hypertrophy called HUVAS (Human Unilocular Vascularized Adipocyte Spheroids, Ioannidou et al, Journal of
    Physiology, 2021). In 2022 I became Docent in Cell- and Molecular Biology. More information can be found at .

    Current position:
    03/2023 Principal Researcher (Senior Forskare) at the Dept. of MedS, Karolinska Institutet

    2006 M.Sc. in Biochemistry, University of Helsinki, Finland
    2011 PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

    Professional Experience:
    2001-2002 Research student at the Folkhälsan Institute of Genetics, Helsinki, Finland
    2002- 2003 Research internship at INTS/INSERM, Paris, France
    2004-2005 Master thesis student in Ralf Pettersson Lab, LICR, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
    2006-2011 PhD student in Ulf Eriksson lab, CMB/MBB, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
    2013 Postdoc in the Auwerx/Schoonjans lab at EPFL, IBI, EPFL, Switzerland
    2014-2018 Postdoc in Kirsty Spalding lab at ICMC, MedH, Karolinska Insitutet, Sweden
    2019-2022 Assistant Professor and Team leader at Dept. of MedS, Karolinska Institutet
    2022- Promoted to full Group Leader at Dept. of MedS, Karolinska Institute
    2022 - Associate Professor (Docent) in Cell and Molecular Biology at Karolinska Institutet
    2023- Group Leader at the Centre for Molecular Medicine (CMM), Karolinska Institutet

    Commissions of trust:
    2019-2020 Chair of the Karolinska Institutet Junior Faculty
  • Vice-chair in 2018
    2019-2020 Junior Faculty representative at Karolinska Institutet’s Faculty Council
    2020- Board member of the KI Respiratory and Circulatory research Network (KIRCNET), Vice-chair 2023-->

  • 2020- Editorial Board member for the popular science journal Medisinsk Vetenskap, 2020-

    Grant reviewer for French National Research Agency (ANR), UK NC3Rs, Swiss national Science Foundation (SNSF), Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMW), The BHF-DZHK-DHF Partnership Awards, and Karolinska Institutet KID grants.

    Awards and Honors:
    - Prize *for “Best Swedish pre-clinical doctoral thesis 2011 within the field of diabetes” by the Swedish Association of Diabetology
    - Prize* for “Best M.Sc. thesis in Biochemistry in 2006” at the University of Helsinki
    - Faculty-funded position as Assistant Professor at Karolinska Institutet (2019-2022)
    - Faculty-funded position as Principal Researcher at Karolinska Institutet (2023-2024)

    Meeting Organization:
    2019-2020 Organizer of KI Discovers seminar series (Nobel forum and online, Stockholm, Sweden)
    2019, 2020, 2021 Organizer of the Cardiovascular Program (CVP) conference (Stockholm, Sweden)
    2021- Organizer of several KIRKNET symposia (Stockholm, Sweden and online)
    2023 Co-organizer of the 29th Scandinavian Society for Atherosclerosis Research (SSAR) meeting (Humlebaek, Denmark)
    2023 Co-organizing the first Swedish Cardiometabolic Mid-career Network meeting with support by Hjärt-Lung Fonden (Sweden)

    Short bibliographic overview (October 2023):
    Total number of publications: 24 (with one in revision)
  • 5 as first author, 7 as corresponding author.
    Citations: 1, 840 (WoS)
  • 2, 762 (GS). H-index=15, i10-index=18. Sum of Latest Known Journal Impact Factor: 420


  • Our research centers around obesity and obesity-induced conditions such as insulin resistance and dyslipidemia, asking why weight gain leads to disease development in some, but not all, obese individuals. We believe the answer lies in how the adipose tissue expands and functions, and that by identifying early pathological triggers connected to adipose tissue nutrient uptake and utilization, we could better understand the pathological processes connected to weight gain. Our goal is to enable the development of preventive treatment strategies that could protect overweight patients against falling ill in the first place, improving both patient care and life quality. Given my background in vascular biology and our current location at the Cardiovascular Medicine Division at Karolinska Institutet, we have a particular interest in the reciprocal interaction between adipocytes and blood vessels, both during differentiation and in health and disease. To understand human adipose tissue physiology, we use a combination of clinical fat biopsies and 3D cultured /in vitro/ adipose tissue models, and use inducable research animals to study inter-organ cross-talk and systemic metabolism /in vivo/. Current projects focus on the regulatory role of the vascular endothelium, on deciphering how cholesterol loading impacts adipose tissue function, and on the metabolic demands of cell growth. We are a young, dynamic research group located on the 8th floor of BioClinicum in Solna always open for students and interesting opportunities to collaborate.


  • - Lecturer on several graduate and undergraduate courses in genetics, cell biology, adipose biology and vascular biology (KI, 2007- present).
    - Vice-responsible for the course Från Ägg till Embryo for KI medical students (2014-2015)
    - Principal supervisor for 3 postdocs, 2 PhD students and co-supervisor for 7 PhD students.
    - Principal thesis or internship supervisor for 10 BSc and MSc students.


All other publications



  • Principal Researcher, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, 2023-

Degrees and Education

  • Docent, Karolinska Institutet, 2022
  • Degree Of Doctor Of Philosophy, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institutet, 2011

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