News, publications and new colleagues

MBB Newsletter 1:2022


A word from the Chairman

Photo: Ulf Siborn


Dear Colleagues,

It’s great to be back at work again, and great to be able to interact with most of you again in person! I hope 2022 will be a year of scientific growth and opening of new frontiers. The pandemic has taught us to be humble when facing complex challenges, but also that collectively, humankind can rise to an occasion in ways that are just awe-inspiring. If we apply that same spirit of urgency to our other challenges, there is no limit to what we can do.

Our department is strong: you all are publishing fantastic science, and you’re getting more external grants than ever. To build on this momentum, I’m happy to announce a new initiative: the MBB Frontier Grants. To ensure the continuing success of the department, we must keep renewing ourselves through recruitment of promising young investigators. More than that, we must predict where our science is headed, and recruit the next generation of scientists who are already going there. But we compete with the world for the best talents, so we must be prepared to offer both a compelling vision for the future, and adequate long-term funding to support their early career.

The MBB Frontier Grants will provide generous support for up to two new assistant professors, in a subject area of strategic importance to the department. I have now asked our Faculty to help me identify those subject areas, and I’m also open to suggestions from doctoral students and postdocs. I look forward to hearing your ideas!



Department information

Update on undergraduate education

2021 was a challenging year for teaching not just due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the medical programme there were a string of extra examinations connected to the closing down of our course “DFM1” in the “old” medical programme.

Basic Science 2. The major undertaking, however, was the development and introduction of “Basic Science 2” (BV2) in the new, 6-year medical programme, using team-based learning (TBL) as the pedagogical model. A big thank you everyone who participated in this work, and especially to those who took on formal responsibilities as module and lab coordinators: Per Moberg (GenBio), Chris Freyer and Anna Wredenberg (MolMet), Elias Arnér and Markus Dagnell (Biochem) and Carmen Salto (MolNeuro). Some fine tuning will obviously be required for the future, but we are satisfied to have developed the new biochemistry curriculum in a format that links the subject closer to the medical profession, providing the sense of urgency and clinical relevance that we were aiming for.

Basic Science 5. Now for the next step: We are currently involved in the development of “Basic Science 5”, due to start in fall 2022. This course includes acid-base balance, alcohol metabolism, blood biochemistry including oxidative stress, and metabolic adaptations to different physiological conditions.


We are yet to identify teachers eager to be involved in this work, so please contact your division teaching representative or Håkan ASAP ( if you want to participate in this work.

The biomedicine master programme has been reworked as well, and as a consequence we have given the courses Bioinformatics and Junior Research Project 2021 for the last time. Thanks to everyone who has been involved over the years. MBB is responsible for the new research course “Frontiers in Biomedicine: Research Project 1” which will start in March. Every research group at MBB is of course invited to host students to conduct a project in their lab. If you have a place please get in touch with Bernhard (, there are students still looking for places.

Leadership positions. In July changes in the leadership positions within the biomedicine programme committee have started due to retirements. So, Rachel Fisher is Programme Director now, Jurga Laurencikiene is Director of Studies for the Master Programme, and Anthony Wright is going to be the new chairperson of the Programme committee from April 2022.

For questions contact Director of Undergraduate Education Håkan Andersson.

HR updates

Lisa Rister, HR specialist, has started working at MBB on Mondays. She helps with various tasks at HR, but initially mainly extensions of employment contracts.

Lina Rowland is HR-contact for all divisions at MBB during Linnea Holm's parental leave.


Photo: Private

New date for MBB retreat

MBB retreat on 19-21 September 2022.

MBB Department Council on
24 March

Department Council and after work for staff at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics. Agenda to be announced.

Calendar post for the event.

Employee survey

During the spring of 2022 (March-April), KI will conduct an employee survey. The survey will focus on questions related to the work environment, organization, leadership and goals and strategies.


Register for EMBO workshop

Registration opens for EMBO workshop on "Molecular Biology of mitochondrial gene maintenance and expression", 15-19 May 2022, to be held in Bro, Sweden.

Read more on meeting website.


Recent publications and grants

Study shows how a psychiatric risk gene can affect brain development

The study, led by Professor Per Uhlén, presents a model and mechanism for how the risk gene CACNA1C can affect brain function and the risk of psychiatric illness..

Read the full article ”Study shows how a psychiatric risk gene can affect brain development"

Decoding epigenomic information from individual cells from the mouse brain.ntific illustration.

Per Uhlén. Photo: Mattias Ahlm

New technique allows mapping of mechanisms of tissue development

In a new study published in Science, researchers at Yale University, in collaboration with researchers at Karolinska Institutet, have developed a technique that gives very precise information about the location of activated and inactivated genes in a specific tissue. This can provide important knowledge about how different tissues develop and how epigenetic regulation contributes to the development of disease.

Read the full article “New technique allows mapping of mechanisms of tissue development"

Decoding epigenomic information from individual cells from the mouse brain.ntific illustration.

Gonçalo Castelo-Branco. Photo: Stefan Zimmerman

Simon Elsässer and Björn Högberg are awarded ERC Proof of Concept Grants

In total three research group leaders at Karolinska Institutet receive European Research Council Proof of Concept (ERC PoC) 2022 grants, which are awarded to researchers who already have funding from the ERC and now wish to develop the innovative potential of their discoveries.

Read the full article “They are awarded ERC Proof of Concept Grants"


Simon Elsässer, Anna Rising and Björn Högberg. Photo: Johannes Frandsén and Stefan Zimmerman (montage)

Excess seal deuterium levels shows you’re not what you eat anymore


Using novel analytical technique developed at KI, the team of scientists led by Roman Zubarev found in seal bones twice as much deuterium as in sea water; extra deuterium cannot come from seals’ diet.

Read the full article "Excess seal deuterium levels shows you’re not what you eat anymore"

Decoding epigenomic information from individual cells from the mouse brain.ntific illustration.

Roman Zubarev. Photo: Johannes Frandsén

Ulrika Marklund is awarded the StratNeuro bridging grant at the consolidator level for junior researchers

The bridging grant is a funding initiative where StratNeuro, and other strategic research areas (SFOs) at KI, award funding to promising researchers with outstanding scientific merits, giving them the opportunity to consolidate their research.

Read the full article "StratNeuro awards two bridging grants at the consolidator level for junior researchers"


Ulrika Marklund. Photo: Johannes Frandsén

New genetic clues on multiple sclerosis risk

An international team of researchers led by Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered that a cell type in the central nervous system known as oligodendrocytes might have a different role in the development of multiple sclerosis (MS) than previously thought. The findings, published in the journal Neuron, could open for new therapeutical approaches to MS.

Read the full article "New genetic clues on multiple sclerosis risk"


Gonçalo Castelo-Branco, Eneritz Agirre och Mandy Meijer. Photo: Leslie Kirby

Joanna Rorbach is awarded KI Consolidator grant

Joanna Rorbach, researcher at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, is one of the eight recipients of this year’s KI Consolidator grant.

Read the full article "Joanna Rorbach is awarded KI Consolidator grant"


Joanna Rorbach. Photo: Xaquin Castro


Get to know your new colleagues

Müge Altinkök is from Istanbul, Turkey and recently started as a PhD student in Patrik Ernfors lab. She obtained her M.Sc. degree in Biomedicine from Karolinska Institutet, and B.Sc. Degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Istanbul Technical University. In Patrik’s group, she focuses on the descending control of pain perception during different psychological states.
Outside of work, she enjoys street photography, playing the piano and fitness.

Head shot.

Christina Stephanou works as a Lab technician at the vascular section in MBB. She has a Master degree in Medical Forensic Science from Uppsala University. Prior to that she did her internship (thesis) at Karolinska Doping Lab in Huddinge. The thesis included three studies on klotho protein and testosterone. Before that, she worked as a pharmacy assistant and as a flight attendant for five years. She left her job as flight attendant and decided to continue my education in the field of science and medicine. She enjoys doing puzzles and horseback riding. She is from Cyprus, but raised in Lebanon, and speaks Greek, Arabic, English and French.

Head shot.

Julie Bianchi has joined Katja Petzold’s lab as a research coordinator. She obtained her PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Sussex (UK) where she studied DNA polymerases and DNA damage tolerance. After, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher in Karolinska Institutet, in Prof. Klas Wiman’s group (OnkPat Dpt) on TP53 and RNA binding protein ZMAT3 and their involvement in tumor suppression. Outside the lab, Julie enjoys hiking and taking pictures, but she is mainly busy chasing her 2 small kids.

Head shot.

Niklas Nuss has joined Ulf Eriksson’s group as a laboratory technician.
He obtained a Master’s degree in Forensic Science at Uppsala University in 2021. He has worked as a lab technician at the Department for molecular mechanisms of disease Zurich and ForGen Hamburg. Outside of the lab he enjoys going to nature and singing in a band. He’s also very passionate about learning new languages.

Head shot.

Juni Andréll has joined the Protein Science Facility (PSF). Juni did her PhD at Imperial College London, UK, working with crystallisation of membrane proteins. As a postdoc she focused on membrane protein production in mammalian cells at the Laboratory for Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge, UK. When recruited to SciLifeLab Solna she worked with cryo-EM while managing a mammalian cell culture lab. As part of PSF she will continue to work with protein production in mammalian cells. Please come by to talk to her about protein production, membrane proteins, cryo-EM or her other interests of fantasy books and boardgaming.

Head shot.

Carmen Abaurre has joined the Ernest Arenas group as a research assistant. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from the University of Granada (Spain). She recently graduated from a Master's in Bioinformatics in Uppsala University, where she completed her degree project on differentiation of oligodendroglia in the human fetal brain. She now works as a computational biologist who studies the mechanisms behind Parkinson's disease. Outside the lab, she enjoys long walks with her dog and anything related to Dungeons & Dragons.

Head shot.

This is a newsletter to staff and affiliates at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics.

Read this newsletter in your browser


Sten Linnarsson

Johanna Bylund


If you have comments about the newsletter or relevant news, contact Communications Officer Johanna Bylund.

Do not click this link

Skickat med Paloma