Published: 30-06-2023 11:18 | Updated: 30-06-2023 12:20

Annika Östman Wernerson: Important in a democracy that conversations and debates takes place where people meet

A portrait of President Annika Östman Wernerson
President Annika Östman Wernerson Photo: Martin Stenmark

I trust that many of you are already heading off on a nice, relaxing holiday and I too will soon be taking a few weeks’ break. But the spring term is an intense one even up to the last minute, and there are a few events and impressions I like to share before sun and sea take over.

Precision medicine in focus when the Swedish presidency is rounded off

At the beginning of last week (26–27 June), the major conference marking the end of Sweden’s EU presidency was arranged in Aula Medica. Its theme was “Life science – the age of precision medicine” and both the auditorium and Biomedicum were filled with seminars, discussions and debates. Participating from the Swedish government were Ebba Busch, deputy prime minister and minister for Energy, Business and Industry, and Minister for Social Affairs and also Public Health Jakob Forssmed, among others. The Ministry of Education and Research was represented by State Secretary Maria Nilsson. Together with the hospital CEO Björn Zoëga I had the privilege to welcome the delegates and hold a joint introductory address. In my speech, I stressed that precision medicine is a sector that will be of immense significance not only for research, patient benefit and clinical development, but also for the supply of skills and education. It will revolutionise the healthcare sector, where research as well as diagnostics and advanced therapies will require specialist knowledge and skills. Consequently, education in areas such as medicine, nursing, biostatistics and informatics will be a key factor. I’m pleased that the Swedish presidency could conclude on this theme and it strengthens my conviction that we must all work together to develop the concept of better health for all – researchers, educationalists, clinicians, politicians, businesspeople, patient representatives and authorities.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at KI who helped to plan and run this amazing conference. The importance of KI and our high-profile premises being seen in such contexts cannot be overstated.

New verdict in the Paolo Macchiarini case

The week before on 21 June, the Court of Appeal announced its verdict on the case of Paolo Macchiarini. I’m sure you remember the case: He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for three cases of aggravated assault. It’s important to note that the sentence has not yet become final and the parties have until 19 July to appeal to the Supreme Court; there is much to suggest that they will. It’s also important that this conviction concerns the operations carried out at the hospital. The part in which KI is directly involved is the research that Macchiarini was conducting at the university. His work was investigated and examined, and Paolo Macchiarini was found guilty of scientific misconduct following a decision taken by my predecessor in June 2018 and various other occasions.    

Openness characterizes Almedalen Week

As I write this, I’m just about to leave Almedalen Week in Visby after a few intense days of meetings and debates. It was my first visit to the event and I’m very impressed by the breadth and depth of its programme. Like many others, I was profoundly upset by the murder of Ing-Marie Wieselgren last year and it was feared that it would be the end of the open atmosphere that’s the Almedalen trademark. But that doesn’t seem to have been the case. On the contrary, it struck me how open and accessible everything is. Public, direct discussions and debates and the meeting of different people, opinions and values are the lifeblood of a democracy. I participated myself in several panel debates and others from KI were invited as speakers and debaters at various seminars. Thank you all for representing KI and for helping to spread your knowledge and contributing to the public discourse!

With this, I’d like to wish you all a lovely summer – see you again when we kick off the autumn term again in August!           

Latest updates from the President

Annika Östman Wernersonwrites regularly about issues that are important to the university under the heading "Latest updates from the President". The articles are published on KI's website and found at News and updates from the University Management. She also contributes regularly to the internal newsletter KI News. Previously published texts can be read in the news archive.