History of Research Areas and Groups

The Department of Anatomy
The history of the department of anatomy has been dealt with in the volumes of the history of Karolinska Institutet, first by Erik Müller describing the first one hundred years and then by Ture Petrén the years between 1910-1960.  The period after that is here presented by Gunnar Grant, with contributions from Staffan Cullheim, Brun Ulfhake, Mårten Risling and Jan Ekholm.
The Department of Anatomy – From 1961

Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications (BBRC) by Sten Orrenius, Hans Jörnvall
Recent Progress in Molecular Sciences: Reviews from Karolinska Institutet at its 200-year Anniversary. Edited by Sten Orrenius, Hans Jörnvall. Volume 396, Issue 1, Pages 1-176 (21 May 2010)
View Biophysical Research Communications (BBRC) Volume 396, Issue 1 online

Blood coagulation research at KI 1920-2004, Part I – Basic research by Margareta Blombäck
Part one, basic research: on heparin and its derivatives, on thrombogenic and non thrombogenic properties of the vessel wall: on purification of hemostatic factors
Blood coagulation research at KI 1920-2004, Part I – Basic research

Blood coagulation research at KI 1920-2004, Part II – Clinical research by Margareta Blombäck
Part two: on coronary heart disease, deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary embolism (PE)
Blood coagulation research at KI 1956-2004, Part II – Clinical research

Cell Death Research at IMM and KI
Apoptosis was first introduced as a form of cell death by Kerr, Wyllie and Currie in 1972. However, this topic attracted little research attention for the following several years. In 1986 Sten Orrenius was invited to give a talk in an American-European debate on Mechanisms of Cell Injury, which was held at a Society of Toxicology meeting in New Orleans.
Boris Zhivotovsky & Sten Orrenius – Cell Death Research at IMM and KI

Chemistry at KI and its development between 1960 -2020 by
Hans Jörnvall och Håkan Eriksson (in Swedish)
A complete history of Chemistry at Karolinska Institute between 1960-2020
Kemiämnets utveckling vid KI under perioden 1960 – 2020


Colourful pioneers within radiology by Nina Einhorn (in Swedish)
The history of Radiumhemmet and radiology at Karolinska Institutet  
Nina Einhorn om Färgstarka pionjärer

The Department of Neuroscience by Gunnar Grant
The department of Neuroscience was formed July 1st 1993. Initially we were in three different buildings, which complicated the interaction. In 1995, however, Neurophysiology could move into the Berzelius-building, and finally after eight years, in 2001 we could all move into the newly built Retzius laboratory, with facilities designed to fit the different members of the department.
History of the Department of Neuroscience (pdf)

The Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (MEB) by Hans-Olov Adami

A brief account of the department’s origin at Uppsala University and development at KI 1997-2018 by Hans-Olov Adami, with contributions from Olof Nyrén, Juni Palmgren, Jan-Eric Litton and Nancy Pedersen.
Dept of Medical Epidemiology history 1997 – 2018 (pdf)

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology
The inaurguration of the department of Physiology and Pharmacology 23rd April 1949 was attended by HRH The Crown Prince of Sweden Gustaf Adolf, and other dignitaries. (this document is in Swedish)

The department’s story then continues with Bengt Andersson as head (this document is in Swedish)

Invigning av den Fysiologiska och den Farmakologiska Institutionen 1949

Fysiologi med Bengt Andersson av Mats Rundgren och Stefan Eriksson (pdf)

Hörselforskningen vid Institutionen för fysiologi och farmakologi – Barbara Canlon (pdf)

Lars E Gustafsson 1950-2017. Läkare, forskare och entreprenör, och hans forskargrupp -Magnus Persson (pdf)

Muskelfysiologi – Jan Lännergren/Håkan Westerblad (pdf)

Omgivningsfysiologi historia (pdf)

An Ulf von Euler “school” at the Department of Physiology I, Karolinska Institutet (pdf)

Fysiologiska institutionen II 1960-1993 (pdf)

integrativ fysiologi (pdf)


The development of environmental medicine at KI
Sten Orrenius och Anna Persson on the development of environmental medicine at KI
Miljömedicinens utveckling vid Karolinska Institutet

The discovery of Polio and the development of a vaccine (in Swedish)

Essayist Sven Gard’s history of the Polio virus and the development of a vaccine

From Bone Marrow Transplantation to Gene Therapy (in Swedish) by Gösta Gahrton
Gösta Gahrton reccounts how bone marrow transplantation first came to Sweden and led to the development of gene therapy
Från benmärgstransplantation till genterapi  

Gosta Gahrton – The start of bone marrow transplantation and gene therapy
In 1951, Lorenz and Jacobsen showed that mice that had received lethal irradiation could be saved with bone marrow collected before the irradiation. These results were the background to Donall Thomas’ attempt to transplantbone marrow from normal donors topatients with advanced cancer after previous total body irradiation. The bone marrow of the patients was replaced by the bone marrow supplied.
Gosta Gahrton – The start of bone marrow transplantation and gene therapy


The Gyllensten group at the Department of Histology (in Swedish)
Ulf Ernström – Gyllenstensgruppen Histologen Karolinska Institutet


KI’s roll in the anti-doping campaign (in Swedish)
Arne Ljunguist describes KI’s roll in the anti-doping campaign in sport.
KI i kampen mot Doping

Nursing Research At KI, as I remember it (in Swedish)

Hjördis Björwell remembers nursing research at KI from 1977 onwards
Omvårdnadsforskningen in i KI -som jag minns det


Paediatric medicine’s golden age at Karolinska (in Swedish)
Hugo Lagercrantz relates the advances in Paediatric medicine at KI from the 1950’s onwards
Barnmedicinsk guldålder vid Karolinska  


Pediatric cardiology at Karolinska Institutet (in Swedish)
The history of Pediatric cardiology at Karolinska Institutet, as told by essayist Bo Lundell 
Barnkardiologins vagga stod på Karolinska  


Paediatric endocrinology at KI
Martin Ritzéntells the story of Paediatric endocrinology at KI
Barnendokrinologin vid Karolinska Institutet


Paediatric Research at KI (in Swedish)
Rolf Zetterström – Pediatrisk forskning vid Karolinska Institutet

The creation of Radiumhemmet, Department of Oncology and Cancer Centrum Karolinska
It is strange that the history of Radiumhemmet contains so many fascinating stories. There is no doubt that within KI’s 200-year history there have been many extremely strong figures that characterized research and teaching within the medical faculty.
Nina Einhorn – The creation of Radiumhemmet, Department of Oncology and Cancer Centrum Karolinska


Researchers in the Monoamine group at the Department of Histology with Nils-Åke Hillarp

Annica Dahlström
Fuxe K


A short history of primary medical care at Karolinska Institutet (in Swedish) by Ingvar Krakau
Ingvar Krakau’s summary of the development of Primary medical care at Karolinska Institutet
Om Allmän praktik i vetenskapens tjänst – kort historik om primärvården långa väg till KI


Viral vaccines in humans by Britta Wahren, illustrated by Liva Herlenius, photos by Lennart Nilsson
Every year several animal viruses jump over the species barrier and become new human infections. In the fight against viral infections, smallpox and wild type polio are eradicated or almost eliminated. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and some Human Polyoma viruses (HPV) have been drastically reduced, and its related tumours have, as well. Endemic influenzas, and several herpes viruses are in need for vaccines covering their subtypes and mutants, while Covid-19 caused by Sars-CoV-2 has become an endemic infection despite effective vaccines. No effective vaccines have been found against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV), but antiviral drugs convert HIV to a chronic state and other drugs can eliminate HCV. There are many concepts for successful vaccine treatments to which Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has contributed during the last 80 years.

Viral vaccines in humans (pdf)


The World Health Research and Training Center in Human Reproduction at KI by Marc Bygdeman
Marc Bygdeman’s essay starts in the early 1970’s with pioneer Axel Westman, and the establishment of the World Health Organisation (WHO) research programme
The World Health Research -and Training Center in Human Reproduction at the Karolinska Institute