Published: 20-03-2024 20:00 | Updated: 26-03-2024 09:26

Annika Östman Wernerson: It is important to nurture an interest in research and science amongst our young

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

The internal team investigating the freezer malfunction in Neo is entering the final phase of compiling its incident report. The report has taken time in order for it to be as complete as possible, as all aspects of the malfunction, from organisational causes to the technical failure, need to be included. The report must be ready by 27 March as IVO (amongst others) has issued a request to receive it. [Following the publication of this text, the finalisation of the report has been postponed.]

The head of the external group, Anna Beskow, director of Uppsala Biobank at Uppsala University, is involved in the final phase of the internal investigation. After completion, KI’s report will be submitted to the external review group.

It is important for KI that all decisive circumstances are brought into the open so that the devastation caused to the researchers and their material is never again repeated at the university. It’s also important that the external review group gets to carry out its independent inquiry into the underlying causes.

The matter of compensation for the lost material is one of the main issues following in the wake of the freezer malfunction, and one that the university management will be looking into.

Positive growth for KI

KI submitted its 2023 annual report (in Swedish) to the government on 22 February. KI had a turnover of SEK 8.4 billion last year, which is an increase of 6.8 percent compared to 2022. Research and doctoral education account for 85 percent of the total turnover. The number of full-year students increased slightly - to 6,722 students from 6,629 the year before - and the application pressure to KI continues to be strong. We also see that KI is strong in international surveys and rankings.

In every way, KI's annual report for 2023 confirms what I have seen daily during my first year as President - that our activities are of a high standard and that our university is full of committed and competent students, researchers, teachers and other staff. Together we contribute to KI's development, and through our collaboration it becomes clear that KI is us.

Now we have met half of our departments

Since the start of the spring term, Vice-President Martin Bergö, University Director Veronika Sundström and I have visited half of KI's departments. The focus of these meetings has been to gain a better understanding of the the departments’ activities, strengths, challenges and how we can develop KI together. So far we have visited: KI DS, LIME, KI SöS, Clintec, FyFa, Neuro, MTC, MMK, CNS, GPH and MedS. 

Commonly asked questions concern skills supply, financial conditions and collaboration with the region and its hospitals, issues that clearly tie in with our Strategy 2030 and nine focus areas. 

We look forward to visiting the remaining departments. This will be followed by a compilation and analysis of the visits, which will be included in the continued dialogue in various meeting forums with, among others, deans, heads of departments and administrative managers.

More meetings and occasions for dialogue

In February, I had the privilege of meeting a group of prospective nurses and radiology nurses, and last week I met medical students. The kidney and kidney diseases were on the agenda. I’ve been teaching ever since my time as a doctoral student, and even as president there are a few teaching sessions per semester. This is important for me, and gives me the opportunity to meet students, share my knowledge and clinical experience, develop my teaching methods and update myself in my field of research. I get valuable input and perspectives on KI as a university, and on the education of future professionals in medicine and health.

In early March, I got to meet Class 5 from Akalla school in Järva who were on a science day trip to KI. It’s important to nurture an interest in research and science amongst our young, so it was inspiring to team up with Berättarministeriet to meet the pupils and hear all their thoughts and ideas.

On World Kidney Day on 14 March I had the privilege of taking part in conversations with other researchers in the field of renal medicine and transplantation at the Royal Palace at the invitation of the patron of the Swedish Kidney Foundation, HRH Prince Daniel. It was a great honour and an important forum for dialogue.

Finally, I’d like to welcome Patrik Rossi as acting hospital director of Karolinska University Hospital. We met very recently to discuss issues related to research and innovation and to continue developing the collaboration between Karolinska Institutet and the hospital. I look forward to our regular meetings and conversations!

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.