Briefly about KI's research

Research at Karolinska Institutet (KI) spans a broad field from basic experimental research to patient-oriented research and global health. A significant part of KI's research and education is conducted within the healthcare sector.

Quick stats

  • 85 percent of the annual turnover is from research
  • 440 professors
  • 2,000 doctoral students
  • 7,500 scientific articles per year
  • 60 percent of the articles are from clinical research
  • SEK 185 million per year for research infrastructure

Organisation and research areas

KI’s research is administratively divided into three departmental groups with a total of 22 departments. These departments are central to the academic environment at our university, with responsibilities encompassing scientific strategy, finance, and administration within their respective areas.

Research is conducted at our campuses in Solna and Flemingsberg (North and South of Stockholm City), as well as at several hospitals and other health care facilities in the Stockholm region. Research at KI spans the entire field of life sciences, from basic research on the smallest parts of life, innovative research methods and medical technology, to clinical research to relieve and cure diseases, ageing, prevention, and global public health. 

Research funding

Research accounts for 85 percent of KI's total annual turnover and the income for the research area amounted to SEK 6,849 million in 2023. External research grants applied for in competition correspond to 54 percent of research income (SEK 3,686 million), while direct government grants account for 33 percent (SEK 2,285 million) of research income.

External research funders

KI has for many years been successful in attracting external research funding. Among the major external research funders in 2023 can be mentioned:

  • Swedish Research Council (SEK 979 million)
  • The Swedish Cancer Society (SEK 326 million)
  • EU (SEK 296 million)
  • The Wallenberg Foundations (SEK 207 million)
  • Forte (SEK 161 million)
  • Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund (SEK 142 million)
  • Region Stockholm (SEK 94 million)

Researchers

KI has approximately 3,000 employed researchers, of which just over 440 are full professors. Over the past three years (2021-2023), 56 professors have been recruited to KI, 34 percent of whom were women, which is below the recruitment target of 60 percent women. However, in total, women make up just over 60 percent of the employees. KI works actively with gender equality and equal treatment. In 2023, KI was awarded a newly established EU prize for its long-term work to promote gender equality in academia.

KI has over 2,000 doctoral students, representing 34 percent of all doctoral students in medicine and health sciences in Sweden. Every year, about 350 doctoral students graduate from KI. In addition, about 3,500 researchers have some form of looser connection to the university, such as researchers employed by Region Stockholm or visiting researchers. A large proportion of KI's doctoral students and researchers come from countries other than Sweden. The working language in many research groups is English.

In 2020, KI received the EU Commission's recognition of HR Excellence in research. This means, among other things, that KI stands behind the EU-common principles that are set for a good research environment when it comes to, for example ethical principles, which support functions researchers have access to in their work and how the university can guarantee transparent and impartial recruitment processes.

Scientific publications

In recent years, KI's researchers have published more than 7 500 scientific articles annually. More than 90 percent of these articles have been published in collaboration with other actors outside the university, in Sweden and abroad. A large proportion of the research has some form of connection to healthcare. Many of the scientific articles are also part of the doctoral theses presented at KI.

Every year, KI's researchers publish many scientific articles in collaboration with researchers in other countries. International co-publications account for about 75 percent of all articles from KI. During the period 2020-2022, articles were published together with researchers based in about 180 different countries. The US was the country with which KI had the most co-publications, closely followed by the UK and Germany.

Clinical research

Clinical research refers to research that requires healthcare structures and resources and aims to solve a health problem or to identify factors that lead to improved health. Clinical research accounts for an estimated 60 percent of KI's scientific publications.

In 2023, the results of two national evaluations covering clinical research and its conditions were reported: the Swedish Research Council's evaluation of the quality of clinical research and the National Board of Health and Welfare's evaluation of university healthcare. In the Swedish Research Council's evaluation, KI and Region Stockholm jointly (called ALF Region Stockholm) were rated "very high quality" for the quality of scientific production and "good-high quality" for the conditions of clinical research.

Research infrastructure

KI offers a wide range of core facilities, providing services, resources, and expertise to academic research in Sweden. These core facilities were all established to meet the needs of the university’s own scientists, and they are constantly evolving to provide the latest techniques and knowledge within their fields of expertise.

The university annually allocates approximately SEK 185 million for research infrastructure. In 2024, this includes the support of 36 core facilities and 14 national infrastructures. In addition to central support, our core facilities are mainly financed with user fees. 

KI is one of the host universities for SciLifeLab, a distributed national research infrastructure with the core mission of providing technologies that facilitate the large-scale analysis of biological processes at the molecular level.

The information above is largely taken from KI's annual report 2023, various personell systems, and other pages on ki.se.