Karolinska Institutet’s Centre for Health Crises is to receive SEK 15 million grant from Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation. The money will be used to build up the centre and develop its activities over the coming two years.
KI’s Centre for Health Crises (previously named “Health Emergency and Pandemic Science Centre”) opened in the summer of 2021 in order to bolster society’s capacity to deal with regional, national and global threats to human health. The idea for such a centre was born during the pandemic.
Johan von Schreeb, professor of Global Disaster Medicine at KI, was recently appointed to lead the centre, and now thanks to a generous donation of SEK 15 million from the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, the next phase of development can begin.
“The need for such a centre is particularly pressing at a time like this, when we’re facing multiple severe health crises at the same time: a war in our immediate neighbourhood, but also an ongoing pandemic and climate crisis,” says KI president Ole Petter Ottersen. “What we can bring to the table is knowledge-based expertise and the cumulative competence that we have at KI, one of the world’s leading medical universities.”
The centre was formed out of the resource groups set up at KI during the COVID-19 pandemic in order strengthen KI’s interaction with society on issues relating to serious health threats and crises. It provides multidisciplinary competence and education in collaboration with other universities and offers expert support in different fields related to human health. The centre is currently in an intensive build-up phase, not least in response to the invasion of Ukraine and its health consequences. Collaborations and relationships are already in place with other actors providing different kinds of support to Ukraine, such as the WHO.
“The donation from Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation means that we can now bring forward the development of the Centre for Health Crises, which is very valuable given the current global situation and future health threats,” says Professor von Schreeb. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen how KI can bring its competence into play in a variety of ways, and now we can move on and focus our efforts through active collaborations with the rest of the world.”
For Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, which mainly supports research in the social sciences, this type of social issues is also important to support.
“It's urgent to activate the Centre for Health Crises in order to immediately assist organizations on site in Ukraine with valuable expert support in Health Care. We see the centre as an important strengthening of readiness for health crises in Sweden as well as the world together with research and education in this area, says Peter Wallenberg Jr, Chair of Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.
The centre is already working actively with issues relating to the invasion of Ukraine; amongst other things, it is gathering expertise from around the university and collaborative partners on relevant fields. The Centre will contribute expertise, jointly with others, in order to help alleviate the health crisis that the war is fuelling.
Photo: Johan von Schreeb