Marie Carlen

Marie Carlen

Professor | Docent
Telephone: +46852483043
Visiting address: Solnavägen 9 - kvarter B4, 17165 Solna
Postal address: C4 Neurovetenskap, C4 Forskning Carlen, 171 77 Stockholm

About me

  • Dr. Marie Carlén is a Professor and group leader at the Department of Neuroscience.

    Marie received her Ph.D. in medicine from Karolinska Institutet in 2005. Her doctoral studies were conducted in the laboratory of Professor Jonas Frisén and focused on stem cells and neurogenesis in the adult brain and spinal cord. Marie went to Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), Boston, for postdoc studies in the laboratory of Professor Li-Huei Tsai at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. During her postdoc, Marie investigated how the activity of inhibitory interneurons expressing parvalbumin (PV) relates to cortical oscillatory activities and cognitive functions.

    In 2010 Marie was recruited back to Karolinska Institutet, and her laboratory is investigating cellular and circuit underpinning of cognition, with a focus on the prefrontal cortex.

    Academic honours, awards and prizes
    Wallenberg Scholar 2019

    Wallenberg Academy Fellow prolongation 2017

    European Research Council Starting Grant 2013 (LS5)

    Wallenberg Academy Fellow in Medicine 2012

    Ragnar Söderberg Fellow in Medicine 2012

    2012 Freedman Prize Honorable Mention for Outstanding Research in Basic Brain and Behavior Science. Brain &
  • Behavior Research Foundation (former NARSAD)

    Sven och Ebba-Christina Hagbergs Prize 2010

    NARSAD Young Investigator Award 2010

    NARSAD Young Investigator Award 2008

    PIIF: Picower Institute Innovation Fund 2007 (MIT
  • Cambridge, USA)

    Keystone Symposium on Stem Cells. 2006 Scholarship

    Award of Excellence: The Alzheimer’s Association Route28 Summits in Neurobiology 2001


  • The anterior part of the frontal lobe in primates and rodents is referred to as the prefrontal cortex. Information processing in the PFC is considered to be central to our cognitive abilities, and to enable flexible behavior. Accordingly, disturbed PFC functioning has been connected to most, if not all, mental disorders, including drug addiction. Needless to say, deciphering of the PFC is of great importance to both understanding of the brain, and to medicine. However, the PFC still lacks a conclusive definition, and the structure and function of this brain region across species remains unresolved (Carlén M. Science 2017).

    Present-day preclinical researchers increasingly utilize mice (Mus musculus) as model animals. However, clinical transfer of pre-clinically identified therapeutics targeting mental disorders (and other brain disorders) has been largely unsuccessful. Knowledge gaps regarding how the brain is built and functions contribute to the failures. Further, lack of comprehension of dissociations between species hampers the understanding of which findings are transferable from model animals to humans. Using high-density electrophysiological recordings, calcium imaging, and optogenetics in transgenic mice and rats we are in the lab characterizing cognitive processing across the subregions of the prefrontal cortex, with the goal to reveal how the prefrontal cortex enables cognition and purposeful behavior. A long-term goal is to establish defining functional features of the mammalian prefrontal cortex, which will enable evaluation of homologies between different species, and help clarify what makes the human prefrontal cortex unique.


All other publications


  • Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, 2022-

Degrees and Education

  • Docent, Karolinska Institutet, 2017
  • Doctor Of Philosophy, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institutet, 2005

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