Karolinska Institutet is the main medical university in Sweden and one of the most prestigious medical research institutions in Europe. Following the will of the dynamite millionaire Alfred Nobel, Karolinska Institutet is also responsible for the yearly selection of Nobel Prize laureates in Physiology or Medicine. KI (as Karolinska Institutet is officially abbreviated) occupies a vast area with educational and research buildings in the suburb of Solna, just across the Stockholm city border. The odd-sounding word "Karolinska" is derived from the name of the Institute's founding king Karl XIII, approximately meaning "Charles'es" or "Caroline" (institute).

Medicine had been taught in the Swedish universities of Uppsala (founded in 1477) and Lund (founded in 1666) for a long time, but after the Swedish defeat in the 1808-09 war against Russia, the need to educate more army medical personnel was felt more acutely than ever. This humiliating defeat led to the painful loss of Finland, an integral part of Sweden since the Middle Ages. In many ways it was a medical defeat. Not only did a third of the wounded die, but more soldiers died of disease than of battle wounds.

Addressing the acute post-war need for medical personnel, a new institution for medical education and research was founded in 1810, under the name "Kongliga Carolinska Medico-Chirurgiska Institutet" (= The Royal Caroline Medical-Surgical Institute). One of its first professors was the famous chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius, who together with Dalton was among the originators of the atomic theory (and who 1817 declined an invitation to become professor of chemistry in Berlin, to succeed professor Martin Heinrich Klaproth).

In 1861 Karolinska Institutet gained status of University. In 1895 the will of Alfred Nobel made the name Karolinska world famous as the selector of Nobel Prize winners in medicine. Nobel fame certainly has helped Karolinska Institutet to attract top scientists to its faculty and to make it the top research and educational institution it is today. Karolinska Institutet has about 7500 students and a staff of 1500 researchers and faculty members.


Karolinska Institutet website: www.ki.se