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Ophthalmologist Gustav Stålhammar new associate professor at Karolinska Institutet

18 June 2020

On 4 June 2020, ophthalmologist and researcher Gustav Stålhammar at St. Erik Eye Hospital was appointed associate professor at Karolinska Institutet. His research relates to eye tumours and he teaches eye anatomy and diseases.

En blond man med skägg och kostym i en skog.

Gustav Stålhammar

Gustav Stålhammar is honoured to accept the appointment.

The title also entails obligations. It encourages me to continue my research and take responsibility for my own development and that of my doctoral students, he says.

To be appointed associate professor, you need to have significantly broadened and specialised your research since your doctoral thesis and have good pedagogical skills to supervise and teach students.

Gustav Stålhammar has previously taught anatomy and eye disorders to medical students. He and his colleagues now regularly give courses in eye disorders for general practitioners, and in future to specialists and opticians as well.

Researching eye tumours

Gustav Stålhammar conducts research to better predict which tumours are aggressive and to prevent patients dying from them.

Malignant melanoma growing in the vascular layer of the eye – the uvea – is the most common type of tumour inside the adult eye. Over time, nearly half of all patients develop metastases, even if the eye has been removed.

When that happens, the prognosis is dire and unlike most other cancers, the survival rate has not improved for several decades.

More research is needed in the area and in our work, my colleagues and I seek to establish new and accurate methods to predict which patients are at risk of metastases, says Gustav Stålhammar.

Using digital image analysis 

In the same way, the researchers want to identify high-risk groups for retinoblastoma, which is the most common eye tumour in children. Digital image analysis is used in an international collaboration to identify which genetic and chromosomal changes increase the risk of a serious outcome.

We hope that this knowledge of which patients suffer an aggressive course of illness will be usable to develop effective treatment strategies, says Gustav Stålhammar.

On the day the announcement of his docent position was made, he became a father for the second time.

A beautiful baby boy who makes us so proud and happy. I am expecting a long and lovely summer with the family. In the autumn, I look forward to returning full time to St. Erik Eye Hospital for a clinical duties  and research in the new premises as a double specialist in eye disorders and surgical pathology.

Text: Helena Mayer

Facts about being an associate professor

  • Associate professor, or docent, is an academic title indicating a higher scientific expertise than a doctor’s degree alone. The name comes from the Latin docere, meaning that you have the right to teach.
  • To receive the title, an associate professor must have published 15–20 peer-reviewed scientific papers in internationally recognised journals and several of these must have been completed without help from previous research supervisors. To become an associate professor, you must have proven yourself as an independent researcher. 
  • A researcher with a doctoral degree can apply for an associate professor title, which is an unpaid position. Karolinska Institutet and many other universities have an associate professor committee that examines the application following a recommendation by two experts.