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 Foundation. 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”. *Education:* 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 Winblad). * * *Docent* 2011 in Neurobiology, Karolinska Institutet *Current position:* 2019 – Head of Division of Neurogeriatrics (65 employees/12 research groups) 2009 –Research group leader, Associate Professor at the Division of Neurogeriatrics, Department of Neurobiology, Care Science and Society, NVS, Karolinska Institutet Stockholm. *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 processing. 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 *Co-supervisor:* 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 University* 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 Institutet.* 2013-2018* FoUK representative for the NVS department PhD student registration committee * 2010-2020* Course leader for Karolinska Institutet’s introductory course for supervisors *2012-2022 *Course leader and lecturer for Karolinska Institutet’s Leadership course for research group leaders *2013*- Course leader and teacher for master and PhD course in Frontiers in Neuroscience track: “Neurodegenerative disorders I – from molecule to treatment” *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 council *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 disease. *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).


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  • 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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