Helena Karlström

Helena Karlström

Senior Lecturer | Docent
Telephone: +46852483548
Visiting address: BioClinicum J9:20, Visionsgatan 4, 17164 Solna
Postal address: H1 Neurobiologi, vårdvetenskap och samhälle, H1 Neurogeriatrik Karlström, 171 77 Stockholm

About me

  • I am a research group leader for a research group, which right now consists
    of one PhD student, one postdoc and one research specialist. Furthermore, I
    am Head of the Division of neurogeriatrics, which is composed of 65 employees
    and 12 research group leaders. In addition, I am as a researcher involved
    in teaching at both the masters, advanced and doctoral level and is also a
    course director for a course in Neurodegeneration here at the department of
    NVS. I am a research representative in the Committee for Doctoral Education
    at KI and assignments such as member of the KID-steering group, Teaching and
    Learning steering group. These roles give me a lot of input and knowledge
    on how KI is working on many levels and how we all can impact our common
    future. I also have a big interest in leadership and have been part of KI's
    supervisor and leadership courses for many years. This has given me
    important reflections on my own leadership style and also I meet a lot of
    interesting people at KI and SLL, which is a benefit for my research career.
    2004-2005 Recipient of two years postdoctoral fellowship from WennerGren
    2005 Recipient of Soroptimist International Prize for Women in Career.
    2006-2007 Recipient of one year postdoctoral fellowship from Loo and Hans
    Ostermans stiftelse.
    2009 – 2012 Recipient of a three year fellowship from Riksbankens
    Jubileumsfond ”Erik Rönnbergs stipendium för vetenskapliga studier av
    åldrande och åldersrelaterade sjukdomar”.
    1985-1989: BSc inMicrobiology and Chemistry Stockholms University, Sweden
    1996 – 2002 Ph.D Department of Cell and Molecular biology, Karolinska
    Institutet, Sweden.
    Thesis: Notch processing and CNS disease
    * *
    *Postdoctoral training*
    January 2004 - December 2005 Department of Neurobiology, Garvan Institute of
    Medical Research, Sydney, Australia (Advisor: Professor Peter Schofield).
    January 2006-June 2007 KI-Alzheimer Center, Department of Neurobiology, Care
    Science and Society, NVS, Karolinska Institutet (Advisor: Professor Bengt
    * *
    2011 in Neurobiology, Karolinska Institutet
    *Current position:*
    2019 – Head of Division of Neurogeriatrics (65 employees/12 research
    2009 –Research group leader, Associate Professor at the Division of
    Neurogeriatrics, Department of Neurobiology, Care Science and Society, NVS,
    Karolinska Institutet
    *Previous positions:*
    1988 –1996 Research lab manager Unit for Bioscience, R&
  • D, Pharmacia &

  • Upjohn Inc., Stockholm.
    2007 – 2009Researcher, KI-Alzheimer center, Department of Neurobiology,
    Care Science and Society, NVS, Karolinska Institutet
    *Main Supervisor:*
    *Johanna Wanngren, *Dissertation: 2012-10-05, Karolinska Institutet, Title:
    Molecular studies of the g-secretase complex: Focus on genetic and
    pharmacological modulation.
    Co-supervisors: Johan Lundkvist, NVS/Alzecure Pharma, Bengt Winblad, NVS, KI
    *Annelie Pamrén*, Dissertation: 2012-12-07. Karolinska Institutet, Title:
    Different types of gamma-secretase complexes and their effect on substrate
    Co-supervisors: Ratan Bhat, AstraZeneca, Bengt Winblad, NVS, KI
    *Daniel Oliveira*, Dissertation 2021-09-09. Karolinska Institutet, Title:
    Unravelling the role of Notch3 dysfunction in disease and for therapy
    development: a focus on CADASIL
    Co-supervisors: Assoc. Prof Johan Lundkvist, NVS, KI/Alzecure Pharma, Prof.
    Matti Viitanen, NVS, KI
    *Wenchao Shao*, registration October 18, 2021.
    Co-supervisors: Assoc. Prof Per Nilsson, NVS, KI Dr. ShaoBo Jin, CMB, KI
    Jenny Frånberg (2005-2010-co-supervisor), Zhi Tang
    (2010-2014-co-supervisor), Nuno Leal (2014-2019, co-supervisor), Mahmod
    Panahi (2015-2019, co-supervisor), Johanna Mayer (2020 – present,
    co-supervisor, Pia Andersen (2021-present, co-supervisor).
    *Supervison- Postdocs/Lab manager:*
    Anindita Bose (2011-2012)
    Silvia Maioli (2012-2012)
    Tobias Weber (2012-2014)
    Kirsten Coupland (2015-2018))
    Katrine Dahl Bjørnholm (2020 - present)
    ShaoBo Jin (2018 – present)
    *Undergraduate students: *
    25 students at BSc and MSc level (2007 - present)
    *Professional Activities and Commissions of Trust:*
    *2006– *Member of half-time committees for approx 20 PhD students at
    Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala
    2011*- Member of 6 thesis defence committees at Karolinska Institutet,
    Uppsala Universitet and Linköpings
    Universitet* 2007
    – *Chair of 15 dissertations at NVS department , Karolinska Institutet*
    **2007* Member of a working group for developing a new central
    supervisor course at Karolinska
    2013-2018* FoUK representative for the NVS department PhD student
    registration committee
    * 2010-2020*
    Course leader for Karolinska Institutet’s introductory course for
    *Course leader and lecturer for Karolinska Institutet’s Leadership course
    for research group
    *2013*- Course leader and teacher for master and PhD course in Frontiers in
    Neuroscience track: “Neurodegenerative disorders I – from molecule to
    *2015* – Member of the KI
    Nomination assembly (representative for NVS).
    *2018* Teacher representative for NVS working environment group
    *2019*- Teacher representative for KFU,
    Committee for research education at KI
    *2019-*Member of the
    steering group in Teaching and Learning (UoL)
    *2019-* Member of the KID steering group (KI-Doktorandmedel)
    *2019 -*
    Representative in Theme Aging Research &
  • Education steering group
    *2019-* Theme Aging leader representative for BioClinicum House
    *2019-*Chair of the KID review panels
    *2021-*Chair of the steering group for
    evaluating KI Pedagogic Ambassadors.
    *2019- 2020* Chair
    of the Center for Alzheimer Research (CAR)
    *2019-*Head of Division of Neurogeriatrics (approx 65
    employees), NVS department, KI
    * *
    *Maternity leave:*
    1998 - 1999 and 2003 - 2004


  • In the Karlström lab we focus on CADASIL (cerebral autosomal-dominant
    arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy), the most
    common familial form of small vessel disease. The condition leads to a series
    of increasingly severe strokes and dementia. CADASIL is linked to the Notch3
    protein which is an important signaling protein allowing cells to communicate
    with one another. Mutations in the NOTCH3 gene result in misfolded Notch3
    accumulating around small and middle-sized arteries throughout the body. At
    present how these Notch3 deposits affect the surrounding tissues is unclear.
    The disease mechanisms may be further complicated due to altered Notch3
    signalling. A number of genetic disorders such as familial Alzheimer’s
    disease are directly linked to protein misfolding, which strongly suggest
    that abnormal protein accumulation and deposits play a direct cytotoxic rile
    in the disease.
    We aim to better understand the molecular mechanisms of this condition in
    order to develop therapeutics to tackle CADASIL. We hypothesise that if we
    can harness the immune system to clear the Notch3 deposits we can halt or
    potentially reverse CADASIL progression.
    A successful treatment for CADASIL would provide a much-needed cure for many
    individuals and would pave the way for new small vessel disease therapeutics.
    Our inter-disciplinary project team has clinical and preclinical expertise in
    CADASIL, and vaccine development and drug discovery competence.
    Another part of my research is related to Alzheimer disease (AD). In my
    group we look specifically at the cellular and biochemical processes that
    lead to the disease. There is a common theme for both SVD and AD and also
    for many other neurodegenerative diseases, that is formation of aggregated
    peptides. It is a challenge to inhibit the formation of these aggregates,
    since other important signaling pathways can be disturbed, which could lead
    to serious side effects. Our aim is to come around this by knowing in more
    detail how it works and hopefully lead to development of better and safer
    medicines for treatment of CADASIL and Alzheimer disease.


  • My subject area is Neurodegenerative disorders, with focus on Alzheimer’s
    disease and small vessel disease/vascular dementia. I am course leader and
    lecturer since *2013* for the Frontiers in Neuroscience master block (3rd
    semeter): “Neurodegenerative disorders I – from molecule to treatment,
    which is a combined PhD course and on the master program in Biomedicine at
    KI. The course in provided 1 week/year.
    I teach on the 1st semester on the master program in Biomedicine in the
    Neuroscience block with the topic ”Vascular dysfunctions and
    Neurodegenerative disorders”.
    *2014-2018* Lecturer on the 1st semester Biomedicine program in Pharmacology
    with toxicology. Lecture: Clinical and basic mechanisms behind Alzheimer
    *2018* Teaching for clinical Neurologists from China in ”Molecular aspects
    on Alzheimer disease”
    I also teach in the Leadership course for research group leaders and have
    between *2010 and 2020* been a course leader for this 2 weeks course/year. My
    subject has been to run workshops called ”Back stage meetings”which is a
    structured way to perform problem solving in the aspects of leadership.
    Lastly, since I have been a course leader for the PhD supervisor course
    between *2010 and 2019* I have been involved in many lectures within the
    course (provided 4-6 weeks per year) but also at different internal KI events
    organised by Junior faculty, KI Postdoc association, KI-NIH program, but also
    given and helped with design of courses and lectures for external
    universities such as Helmholtz Association (two times) and Muhimbili Medical
    and Health University in Tanzania (five times).


All other publications



  • Senior Lecturer, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, 2023-

Degrees and Education

  • Docent, Karolinska Institutet, 2011
  • Doctor Of Philosophy, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institutet, 2002

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