Published: 04-04-2014 10:52 | Updated: 03-06-2014 14:47

KI gives Gösta Gahrton a medal

Gösta Gahrton, Professor of medicine at Department of Medicine, Huddinge, has received a silver medal from KI in 2013.

The silver medal - Stora Silvermedaljen - is awarded a person who has made outstanding contribution in support of Karolinska Institutet.

-It's very flattering. I'm immensely happy, said Gösta Gahrton, who has been at the fore front in laying the foundation for research on hematological malignancies, cell biology, gene therapy and stem cell transplantation at KI.

"It was an incredible time"

Gösta Gahrton's research career started in 1961 when he came to KI, and joined Professor Torbjörn Caspersson's, cytologist and geneticist, research group.

-It was an incredible time. Caspersson is one of the KI's most prominent profiles from the middle of the thirties until he retired in the late seventies. He invented (together with Lore Zech) the "banding technique", a way of identifying individual chromosomes. He was able to show that they have their own band pattern, which was a significant discovery that laid the foundation for much of today's research, said Gösta Gahrton.

This meant that Gösta Gahrton together with Caspersson's group could show in 1970, with the banding tecnique, that the chromosome abnormality that had been discovered in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), engaged another chromosome than were previously thought.

-It was chromosome number 22 and not 21, which was found in three copies in Down syndrome, and was considered a risk factor for leukemia. That is, there was no relation between Down syndrome and CML. We predicted then that the deletion (a deficiency of a piece on the chromosome's long arm), which was seen in chromosome number 22 in CML was a result of a translocation.

First bone marrow transplantation

As a result, research on chromosomes has been an integral part of Gösta Gahrtons profession and his group has discovered new aberrations in other types of leukemi. Even today, at 81 years of age, he works in the same area at MedH and outside the Institute.

In 1975 he and collaborators performed the first bone marrow transplantation in Sweden and he is amongst other things running a project together with European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT) with the aim to cure myeloma patients with stem cell transplantation.

-At the end of the week Im going to participate in a Pro-Con debate at a congress in Berlin, where I'll present our recent results showing that about 20 percent of our younger patients appear to be cured. In any case, they live more than 10 years after treatment, whereas all died at an average time of about three years earlier.

Stora Silvermedaljen 2013:

  • The medal ceremony will take place during the installation ceremony in the Berwaldhallen 24 October.
  • The silver medal  Stora Silvermedaljen 2013 - also goes to Folke Sjöqvist, emeritus professor of clinical pharmacology, and Bengt Winblad, professor of geriatrics, both at KI.