Published: 2021-09-21 09:58 | Updated: 2021-09-21 13:05

Albin Björk is awarded the prize for best dissertation.

Albin Björk is awarded the prize for his dissertation "Immunopathogenic mechanisms in primary Sjögren's syndrome"

Congratulations Albin! You won the Swedish Rheumatological Association's (SRF) prize for best dissertation in 2021.

What is your dissertation about and what were the most important results?

-The overall aim of my thesis was to characterize exogenous and endogenous factors contributing to the immunopathology of the autoimmune disease primary Sjögren’s syndrome.

We found that cigarette smoking does not appear to increase the risk of the disease, but that it may instead be a protective factor. Further, we found that a history of infections was associated with a higher risk of development of Sjögren’s syndrome. In studies of lymphocytes, we found aberrances in B cell gene expression patterns and dysregulation of the CXCR5/CXCL13 axis, which is important for lymphocyte migration. We also assessed serological and cellular responses against viral antigen in patients with systemic autoimmune disease and found that they developed higher titers of specific antibodies compared to healthy controls, which supports the hypothesis of infections as an environmental risk factor for systemic autoimmune disease.

How can the results be used, do you see any potential applications?

- Knowledge about environmental factors like smoking and infections can be communicated to patients. The thesis also contributes to increased understanding regarding which underlying mechanisms of the immune system that could constitute potential targets for novel therapies in treatment of Sjögren’s syndrom

Albin Björk in the lab
Albin Björk. Photo: Saga Rebecka Herlenius

What is the next step for you?

- Since a few months I am working as a physician at the Center for Rheumatology, which is a part of the Academic Specialist Center. My ambition is to continue my research on rheumatic diseases in parallel with my work as a physician.

Albin Björk, PhD, Karolinska Institutet, Department of medicine, Solna, Division of Rheumatology.

SRF's motivation:
Albin Björk is awarded the prize for his dissertation "Immunopathogenic mechanisms in primary Sjögren's syndrome". In this dissertation, Albin Björk combines extensive and innovative mechanistic and epidemiological research, which contributes to a greater understanding of the origin of Sjögren's syndrome.