Published: 19-03-2024 15:48 | Updated: 02-04-2024 08:34

Informal with lots of questions when KI's President lectures

Annika Östman Wernerson lectures during the pathophysiology course.
Annika Östman Wernerson lectures during the pathophysiology course. Photo: Fredrik Persson

“All researchers who have the opportunity should take the chance to teach. The contact with the students gives a lot, this is where you meet the future”, says Annika Östman Wernerson.
The kidney and kidney diseases are on the agenda for future nurses and radigraphers on a Thursday morning in February. In front of the podium in 4U, Flemingsberg, stands KI:s President Annika Östman Wernerson.

The lecture is part of the course in pathophysiology and Annika begins with a review of the structure and function of the kidney and then moves on to kidney diseases, which affect a large group of patients with diffuse symptoms and whose entire life can change for the worse if they do not get the right help in time. Here in this room are their future healthcare contacts.

“It's good that the rector is lecturing. It feels like we are important,“ says Marah Garbo, who is in the second semester of the radiographers program. 

Marah Garbo takes notes as Karolinska Institutet's (KI) President Annika Östman Wernerson lectures to students at the school's campus in Huddinge.
Marah Garbo takes notes as Karolinska Institutet's (KI) President Annika Östman Wernerson lectures to students at the school's campus in Huddinge. Photo: Fredrik Persson

She gives Annika the highest grade in pedagogy afterwards, she thinks it has been easy to follow.

Annika Östman Wernerson is a professor of kidney and transplantation science and, in addition to research, she still has one foot in the healthcare system as she occasionally takes on the shortage of pathologists, specialist in assessing tissue samples from kidneys and transplanted organs. 

Adapting to students' level

For a lecture like this one, she updates herself on learning objectives, student literature and the latest clinical guidelines on how to treat various kidney diseases.

“It takes more time than you might think to prepare a lecture like this, even with my background.  The students have different prior knowledge. I want to put it at a reasonable level based on the learning objectives of their course”, she says.

She has been lecturing and teaching since she was a doctoral student. Now that she is President, there is about one teaching session a month during the semester. 

Cyst kidney and kidney failure

Today's lecture is two hours long, albeit with a break, but Annika Östman Wernerson's experience of keeping an audience interested helps.

Towards the end of the presentation, she shows a picture of a cyst kidney and anyone who has lost focus is now guaranteed to wake up. Perhaps not a hiss, but a murmur goes through the room. A cyst kidney can weigh 4-5 kilograms and appears to fill a very large part of the body. The disease is hereditary and cannot be prevented.

“Patients slowly gain weight, increase the size of their abdomen and do not always realize what the real problem is”, says Annika Östman Wernerson.

A rare condition, but perhaps someone in the audience will meet such a patient at some point and remember this lecture. 

Annika then moves on to chronic kidney failure, which is a common complication of many of the diseases she has described.

 "In healthcare, we must do everything we can to ensure that the patient's kidney function does not become this poor. If it is not possible to treat the patient so that he or she recovers, we try to slow down the process so that deterioration occurs as slowly as possible. The next step is to prepare the patient for dialysis or transplantation,” she says.

Smart questions

Many in the room have read up on the subject before today's lecture and ask intelligent questions and seek clarification. Annika set the informal tone already at the start of the lecture.

“You are welcome to interrupt me if you have questions. Never feel that any questions you ask here are stupid.”

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Annika Östman Wernerson lectures during the pathophysiology course.
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Students' views

“I think it's nice to get in closer contact with the president of KI and those responsible for the school. There was a good dialogue between the principal and the students, which I think is very important. She was clear in her language during the lecture, but she also kept it at a challenging level," says Anna-Luisa Permarker, semester three, nursing program.

“It shows that the rector wants to have an influence on the studies and know what is going on, what we are learning at KI,” says Sofia Céline Naufel Toum, third semester, nursing program.

“She was a good lecturer, I liked how she got everything across. There was a common thread in how the lecture went from the basics with anatomy all the way to the expert areas, says Ludwig Kåhre,” semester three, nursing program.


The pathophysiology course is given by Rosita Christensen Anders Rosendahl, assistant professors at the Department of Laboratory Medicine.