Published: 01-03-2023 09:00 | Updated: 01-03-2023 09:00

Annika Östman Wernerson, president of Karolinska Institutet: "Proud and honoured"

A portrait of President Annika Östman Wernerson
Annika Östman Wernerson writes about issues important to the university under the heading "Latest updates from the President". Photo: Martin Stenmark

I feel proud, honoured and humbled to be taking up the presidency of Sweden’s top-ranking university. Karolinska Institutet is a flagship amongst our nation’s universities and I hope that my background and experience will be of use in not only maintaining but also advancing this position.

My history at KI is a long one. I started studying medicine when I was a little over 20 years old, studied for a PhD after my surgery course and graduated in 1991. Since then, I have combined being a teacher, researcher and professor of kidney and transplant science with my clinical work as a doctor. More recently I have been dean and academic vice president for Higher Education, roles in which I have honed by managerial and leadership skills and built a large network.

As president I will have wide-ranging responsibilities, making the position a weighty and challenging one.  Fortunately, however, I will be part of a team. Martin Bergö, who is assuming the vice-presidency today, Veronika Sundström, our new university director as of 17 April, and I now constitute KI’s new university management, and we will be aided in our work by all our smart colleagues, students and partners.

KI is us

Those of you who know me or who have heard me describe my ambitions during the presidential nomination process will know that teamwork is one of the issues to which I give greatest priority. Because KI is us, and together we create the university that is Karolinska Institutet. We are each other’s working environment and it’s up to all of us to contribute to an internal culture that’s creative and development-orientated while also being inclusive and respectful of others.

I will do my utmost to reduce the distance and enhance the dialogue between management, departments, employees and students. As soon as possible, Martin, Veronika and I intend to hold open dialogue meetings for all the staff and students on our campuses. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions!

Interaction research - education

I will also be focusing on the interaction between our core activities. What makes our courses and programmes so attractive is very much the impact of research – and successful research requires education of a high standard. All parts – higher education, doctoral education and research – are interconnected. If we can grow the whole, we will strengthen KI as a university. This I believe is absolutely essential if we’re to safeguard KI’s status.

There’s no point rushing through change. There’s a lot at KI that works incredibly well, and our successes have been considerable – but we can always do better.

Thank you!

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my predecessor Ole Petter Ottersen for his outstanding achievements as president of KI. Since taking up office in August 2017, he has invested great energy and commitment in making sure that KI has taken giant strides forward as a groundbreaking, engaged and global university – while guiding the university through the worst health crisis in modern times. I’d also like to thank Anders Gustavsson, who in his capacity as vice-president has played an instrumental part in the university’s development.

I look forward to meeting you all in my new role as KI president, starting 1 March!   

Latest updates from the President

Annika Östman Wernerson plans to write regularly about issues that are important to the university under the heading "Latest updates from the President". The articles will be published on KI's website and found at News and updates from the University Management. She will also contribute regularly to the internal newsletter KI News.