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Researchers on the topic of COVID-19

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet seek to be available when media requests information about the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Below we list some of KI's researchers whose area of expertise in some way overlap with the current outbreak. The press office handles inquiries from journalists and can provide contact information when needed.

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Researchers in virology, immunology and infectious diseases

Jan Albert
Photo: John Sennett

Jan Albert, professor of infectious diseases

Jan Albert is a professor of infectious diseases who has mainly focused on clinical virology since the early 1990s. He is the head of Karolinska Institutet’s COVID-19 group which brings together eight experts in fields such as virology, immunology, infectious diseases and infection control.

Photo of Soo Aleman.

Soo Aleman, associate professor and senior physician

Soo Aleman’s research focuses on hepatitis B, C and D infections, and risks of complications in antiviral treatment. She is medically responsible for the care of COVID-19 patients in the outpatient setting for infectious diseases at Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge. In her research, she focuses on conducting a clinical study with COVID-19 patients in Region Stockholm, with follow-up regarding disease outcomes.

Photo: Martin Stenmark

Anna Mia Ekström, professor of infectious disease epidemiology

Anna Mia Ekström is a senior physician in infectious disease medicine at the Karolinska University Hospital, which is responsible for the care of COVID-19 patients in Stockholm. At KI she studies infectious diseases, especially HIV, Ebola and Zika viruses, and have experience in assessing epidemics. She also leads the Global and Sexual Health (GloSH) research group since 2008 when she took over from Hans Rosling.

Photo of Sara Gredmark Russ.
Photo: Andreas Andersson.

Sara Gredmark Russ, researcher in immunology and virology

Sara Gredmark Russ heads a research group that studies how our immune system reacts to viral infections. The group focuses mainly on understanding the basic principles of the immune response and factors important for severe infection in certain individuals. She is also a member of KI’s COVID-19 group.

Photo of Lennart Hammarström.

Lennart Hammarström, senior professor of clinical immunology

Lennart Hammarström has researched clinical immunology since the 1970s and is an expert on immunogenetics and immunotherapy. He is part of a research team that seeks to develop so-called passive immunotherapy against SARS-CoV-2 with the help of donated blood samples from recovered COVID-19 patients.

Photo: Johan Bergmark.

Qiang Pan Hammarström, professor of clinical immunology

Qiang Pan Hammarström is a researcher and professor with substantial international experience, including from China. She is part of the same research team as Lennart Hammarström and believes that passive immunization with antibodies represent a weapon of choice to treat COVID-19 and prevent continued spread of the virus globally.

portrait in lab environment
Photo: Ulf Sirborn.

Gunilla Karlsson Hedestam, professor of vaccine immunology

Gunilla Karlsson Hedestam’s research focuses on the adaptive immune system, in particular the function of B cells and their capacity to produce antibodies, which are important for the protection against infections. She is part of an EU-funded project that aims to produce antibodies that block the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to infect cells, so-called neutralizing antibodies.

Photo of Gerald McInerney

Gerald McInerney, associate professor of virology

Gerald McInerney runs a lab that studies the interactions between viruses and their host cells in the early stages of infection. He is part of the same project as Hedestam Karlsson and aim to identify antibody candidates that could be used for treatment and prevention in humans before the world has access to a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Photo: Bildmakarna.

Ali Mirazimi, adjunct professor of clinical virology

Ali Mirazimi has long studied highly pathogenic viruses, such as Ebola and SARS, and is part of a project to increase global preparedness to deal with coming epidemics and pandemics. Today he is trying to develop a vaccine and antiviral drugs against SARS-CoV-2.

Photo of Anna Smed Sörensen.

Anna Smed-Sörensen, associate professor of immunology, research group leader

Anna Smed-Sörensen's research group studies the immune response during infection and inflammation of the respiratory system. The group conducts immunological studies on patients with respiratory infections, mainly on those with influenza but also on patients with flu-like sympthoms caused by other viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

Portrait of professor Matti Sällberg. Photo Andreas Andersson.
Photo: Andreas Andersson.

Matti Sällberg, professor of biomedical analysis

Matti Sällberg is head of the Department of Laboratory Medicine at KI and runs a research group that studies how hepatitis viruses cause disease. Together with Ali Mirazimi, he is now trying to develop a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. He is also coordinator of the EU-financed project “OpenCorona” and a member of KI’s COVID-19 group.

Photo: Stefan Zimmerman.

Anders Sönnerborg, professor of clinical virology and infectious diseases

Anders Sönnerborg is head of the infectious diseases and clinical microbiology units at KI as well as a senior physician at the Karolinska University Hospital where he is part of the COVID-19 team. His research group is working on developing antiviral substances against SARS-CoV-1 and MERS coronaviruses, and plans to soon test them against SARS-CoV-2 in a laboratory setting. He is also chairman of the Swedish Reference Group for Antiviral Therapy (RAV), which has produced an overview of the treatment of COVID-19.

Researchers in disaster medicine

Anneli Eriksson, Project manager at the Department of Global Public Health

Anneli Eriksson, project manager

Anneli Eriksson is an experienced nurse who has worked for Doctors Without Borders for many years, where she has had several positions in field-missions in various countries, most recently in Liberia in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak. She runs KI's emergency medicine training courses and her research focuses on ways to predict and measure severity and needs in different disasters.

Martina Gustavsson, forskningshandläggare vid institutionen för global folkhälsa

Martina Gustavsson, research officer

Martina Gustavsson develops e-training courses for healthcare professionals on handling personal protective equipment for COVID-19. She is involved in the project “Ethical challenges in disasters”, a collaboration between KI and Uppsala University to better understand determinants for moral stress/distress and how that affects wellbeing among healthcare professionals in disasters. She is a reg. nurse and has worked for Doctors Without Borders, including recently in the Ebola outbreak in DR Congo.

Johan von Schreeb outside Aula Medica. Photo: Andreas Andersson.
Photo: Andreas Andersson.

Johan von Schreeb, professor of global disaster medicine

Johan von Schreeb is a surgeon and head of KI’s Centre for Research on Health Care in Disasters, which has been tasked by the National Board of Health and Welfare to arrange education and training for medical personnel in connection with the COVID-19 outbreak. He has worked with disaster medicine for 25 years and is co-founder of the Swedish section of Doctors Without Borders.

Researchers in health care systems

Professor Knut Lönnroth. Photo: Creo Media Group
Photo: Creo Media Group

Knut Lönnroth, professor and senior physician

Knut Lönnroth is a professor of social medicine and studies socio-economic risk factors and consequences of infectious diseases, especially tuberculosis. He also examines how health care systems can be designed and how health care can best interact with other sectors of society to prevent and fight infectious diseases and reduce social and economic consequences.

Portrait of Göran Tomson

Göran Tomson, professor

Göran Tomson is a professor of international health systems research, counselor UN Agenda 2030 with the 17 sustainable development goals at the President’s office at KI and visiting professor at Shandong University in China. He is a co-founder of the Swedish Institute for Global Health Transformation (SIGHT). His research contributes to universal health coverage with accessibility to a good quality of care, especially to vulnerable groups in resource-poor settings. Göran Tomson is engaged in health policy formulation and implementation both globally and nationally and is a member of several of WHO’s committees.

Photo of John Øvretveit.

John Øvretveit, professor of improvement implementation and evaluation

John Øvretveit has 40 years of expertise in organisation, management and implementation science, and on rapid impact research. He can answer questions about organising an emergency response to pandemics in general, and COVID-19 especially.  John Øvretveit is a professor and research director at Karolinska Institutet’s Medical Management Centre and works part-time as research and development officer for Region Stockholm primary and community healthcare services. From early March 2020 he has carried out an action research project on organizing and implementing emergency response to COVID-19 in the primary and community healthcare service. John Øvretveit prefers speaking English. 

Researchers in epidemiology

Photo of Emma Frans,
Photo: Niklas Nyman.

Emma Frans, postdoctoral researcher in medical epidemiology

Emma Frans is a researcher at Karolinska Institutet and one of Sweden’s leading science communicators. She has written several books about scientific thinking and how to separate facts from fiction. Her specialty is explaining the latest research in an educational way.

Photo: Gunnar Ask.

Helena Nordenstedt, researcher in global health

Helena Nordenstedt worked with the ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-2015, and has since been involved in several research projects about ebola. She studies, among other things, how misconceptions and rumors during infectious outbreaks impact efforts to contain epidemics. She is currently involved in a study on how misconceptions associated with the covid-19-outbreak may influence people’s propensity to take preventative measures such as washing their hands.

Portrait of Joakim Dillner.
Photo: Ulf Sirborn

Joakim Dillner, professor of infectious disease epidemiology

Joakim Dillner has researched viruses for almost 30 years and is a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet. He also works as research director at the Karolinska University Laboratory at the Karolinska University Hospital, where he coordinates research and development activities against COVID-19 to make sure they are as effective as possible.

Researchers in medical ethics

Photo: Stefan Zimmerman

Gert Helgesson, professor of medical ethics

Gert Helgesson is a professor of medical ethics at Stockholm Centre for Healthcare Ethics at KI. His main research interests are research ethics, normative issues related to respect for autonomy and questions concerning how the research interest should be weighed against the patient's protective interest and interest in taking advantage of the research advancements. Gert Helgesson assists with advising KI's management in research ethics issues.

Photo: Stefan Zimmerman

Niklas Juth, senior lecturer and associate professor in medical ethics

Niklas Juth's main research interests are medical ethics and the intersection of political philosophy and medical ethics, e.g. autonomy and justice in health care. He has been involved in research projects on health care priorities (“Prioritizing in Health Care”) but also in projects related to, for example, experimental ethics, screening, end-of-life care and patient-centered care.

Claes Frostell, vetenskapligt ombud och ordförande i KI:s etikråd.
Photo: Andreas Andersson.

Claes Frostell, professor and senior physician of anesthesiology, chairman of KI’s Ethics Council

Claes Frostell has worked with international research collaborations within and outside EU. Since Sept. 1, he is chairman of KI’s Ethics Council as well as KI’s scientific representative. His assignment includes fostering a proactive discussion about ethics within KI and offering advice and guidance concerning ethical issues to KI’s researchers.

Researchers in psychology and behavioral science

Närporträtt av Erik Andersson utanför Aula Medica.
Photo: Andreas Andersson

Erik Andersson, lecturer

Erik Andersson is a clinically active psychologist and researcher at KI. He is an expert on obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and related conditions and their treatment. He also researches excessive worry, which often concerns future threats such as fatal illnesses.

Photo: Gustav Mårtensson.

Armita Golkar, researcher in psychology

Armita Golkar is a researcher in psychology at Stockholm University and Karolinska Institutet. She studies our ability to learn by observing other people’s behavior and how such social learning may be used to better understand why we develop fears as well as how we can prevent and influence already learned fears.

Portrait of Erik Hedman.
Photo: Ulf Sirborn.

Erik Hedman-Lagerlöf, professor in psychology

Erik Hedman-Lagerlöf’s research focuses on psychological treatment for severe health anxiety, which is characterized by an excessive and persistent fear or worry about serious illness. The research is especially relevant for people who run a high risk of chronic and debilitating health anxiety.

Andreas Olsson in front of a screen that shows a brain
Photo: Ulf Sirborn.

Andreas Olsson, professor of psychology

Andreas Olsson’s research focuses on how fear is acquired/regulated in social situations, e.g. how fear-relevant information is disseminated and affects the brain and our decision-making. He is an expert on group psychology and affective processes in social situations.

Read more about KI's research on COVID-19