Published: 28-04-2016 13:00 | Updated: 16-05-2016 13:14

Jubilee Gold Medals awarded to Torsten Wiesel and Rune Fransson

The Karolinska Institutet Jubilee Gold Medal is awarded to Nobel Laureate and neurophysiologist Torsten Wiesel and former university director Rune Fransson. The gold medal symbolises the special recognition given to people who have made an outstanding contribution to the university.

Torsten Wiesel studied medicine and began his a career in neurophysiology at Karolinska Institutet. In 1955, he transferred to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. In 1973 he was appointed chair of the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, between 1991 and 1998 he was president of Rockefeller University, New York. In 1981, Torsten Wiesel and David Hubel were awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their innovative studies of visual sensory processing.

Torsten Wiesel. Foto: Lars NybomFrom 2000 to 2009 Professor Wiesel was director of the Human Frontiers Science Programme in Strasbourg, and from 1994 to 2004 chair of the American Academy of Science’s human rights committee. He is also the patron and an honorary member of the Young Academy of Sweden. As a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, he has also participated actively in its work.

Torsten Wiesel has made many exceptional contributions to Sweden’s scientific community in general and to research at KI in particular. He has led advisory boards for the Department of Neuroscience and for the related strategic research area. In 2011 he carried out an analysis of KI’s research organisation and expressed opinions on it that remain relevant and the source of much discussion.

“Through his unusual ability to conduct creative research and develop research environments, Torsten Wiesel has become an exemplar for several generations of medical researchers at Karolinska Institutet.” says acting vice-chancellor Karin Dahlman-Wright.

Rune Fransson began his career at Karolinska Institutet in 1978 as financial director of the then School of Dentistry. In 1983 he was recruited to a central position as budget manager. In 1991 he ascended to the post of assistant administrative manager, becoming university director in 1995. After many years in this position he was made director in charge of infrastructure, innovations and overall financing in 2007.

Rune Fransson. Foto: Camilla SvenskRune Fransson led the KI93 project, a radical reorganisation of the university that, amongst other things, reduced the number of departments from 150 to just over 30. This structure has remained essentially unchanged to this day and has made an invaluable contribution to KI’s strength and competitiveness. In the 1990s, during Rune Fransson’s leadership, KI introduced a cutting-edge and creative innovation process that has proved indispensible for researchers seeking to commercialise their discoveries ever since.

Rune Fransson’s contributions have been absolutely crucial to the new building projects underway on the two KI campuses. In Solna, there is the new world-class research centre Biomedicum, which will bring together 1,600 people in an innovative research environment; and in Huddinge the Neo block, which is located next to the hospital so that researchers can work with pressing disease issues and bring their results and improved treatment methods more quickly to where they are needed.

“These buildings and the new spaces under completion at Karolinska University Hospital will make KI uniquely placed to grow and develop as a university.” says Karin Dahlman-Wright. “It is very much thanks to Rune Fransson that KI is the world-leading research institution it is today.”

The medals will be presented to the recipients at Karolinska Institutets promotion ceremony on May 13.

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