Published: 15-04-2020 13:12 | Updated: 04-11-2021 10:24

Pascale Cossart, Sven Hagströmer, and Thomas Sakmar appointed honorary doctors at KI 2020

Photo: Institut Pasteur - Francois Gardy,Joey Abrait,N/A

Three new honorary doctors have been appointed by the Board of Research at Karolinska Institutet. Pascale Cossart, Sven Hagströmer, and Thomas Sakmar will have their doctorates formally conferred at Stockholm City Hall on 13 November 2020.

An honorary doctorate can be awarded to researchers who have contributed to science, humanity, or Karolinska Institutet. It can also be awarded to individuals who lack the official requirements of a PhD but have contributed to research and development relevant to KI.

Pascale Cossart

Pascale Cossart. Photo: Institut Pasteur, François Gardy

Pascale Cossart is a world-leading expert in the field of infection biology. Through groundbreaking research combining microbiology and cell biology, she has shown how interaction between the bacterium Listeria – that she uses as a model- and human cells can cause an infection. She pioneered the research field today known as cellular microbiology. In addition to her work as professor at the Pasteur Institute, Pascale Cossart has acted to strengthen European research on microbiology and cell biology.

For many years Pascale Cossart has supported the scientific careers of young and female researchers. She has also greatly contributed to European collaboration within the research field of infection biology. During her career, Pascale Cossart has received several awards. Among them are the Robert Koch Prize (2007), the Balzan Prize (2013), and FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award (2014). Pascale Cossart is a member of the American National Academy of Sciences (NAS) as well as the British Royal Society. She also serves as Secrétaire perpetuel of the French Academy of Sciences.

“I felt really honored to hear that I was awarded this honorary doctorate. I feel honored because for me the Karolinska Institute is the magic name of a place where science is honored more than anywhere else. Receiving an honorary doctorate in medicine for someone who was originally a chemist is in addition quite flattering meaning that the science I did with all my collaborators really reached the level I was looking for and has been really appreciated,” says Pascale Cossart.

Sven Hagströmer

Sven Hagströmer. Photo: Joey Abrait

The economist Sven Hagströmer has founded the investment company Creades as well as the Swedish bank Avanza. Today he serves as chairman in both companies. Sven Hagströmer is highly dedicated to social entrepreneurship and was the founder of Allbright - a foundation that aims for equality and diversification amongst high-ranking positions in the swedish business world. He is also the founder of Berättarministeriet and the scientific publishing house Fri Tanke.

Sven Hagströmer is an able and passionate book collector. For many years he has taken an active interest in the Hagströmer Medico-Historical Library at Karolinska Institutet. Sven Hagströmer has funded purchases of notable works on medical history and enabled employment of staff with expert knowledge. Furthermore, he has founded an association called Hagströmerbibliotekets vänner (“Friends of Hagströmer Medico-Historical Library”), which organizes showings, seminars, and lectures in the library.

“When I first got the notice about my appointment, I thought it was some kind of prank. How can I receive such appreciation by Karolinska Institutet, just for doing what was fun? I aim to make the world a better place, which in itself really is a pleasure. This acknowledgement gives me strength to try even more,” says Sven Hagströmer.

Thomas Sakmar

Portrait of honorary doctor Thomas Sakmar
Thomas Sakmar. Photo: Privat.

Thomas Sakmar is a highly qualified researcher within the fields of cellular signal transduction and G protein-coupled receptors. Broadly, these fields of research investigate how human cells react to stimuli from their surroundings and in response can activate certain proteins within the cell. Thomas Sakmar’s knowledge on protein chemistry, for example how antibodies against the peptide amyloid beta are produced, has been of great value to KI. He is a former visiting professor at the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society at Karolinska Institutet.

Thomas Sakmar is a researcher from Rockefeller University. By initiating bilateral exchanges of scientist between KI and Rockefeller, he has strengthen the collaboration, which in turn has given researches from both universities access to new methods, equipment, and important material. Furthermore, Thomas Sakmar has taken an active interest in the work KI in general by, among other things, hosting lectures on leadership and supervision. 

“I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude to receive this great honor from the Karolinska Institute. I have been fortunate in my career to have benefited from close associations with several leading medical research universities, and I feel a particular close bond to KI, which has welcomed me with open arms.  I have learned so much over the past decade from so many colleagues, and I am delighted that this honor will cement my relationship with the KI community. As a physician-scientist, there is no greater honor than being associated in this way with KI,” says Thomas Sakmar.

The first honorary doctors of medicine at Karolinska Institutet were appointed in 1910. Each year, about 20 nominations are submitted to The Board of Research. Nominations are accepted from permanent staff members at Karolinska Institutet with a doctorate. Between 2000 and 2019, 77 new honorary doctors have been appointed, of which 22 were women.