Karolinska Institute

By Cecilia Gaffaney

Founded in 1810, the Karolinska Institute (Karolinska Institutet) enjoys a reputation as the top-ranked university in Sweden. Considered one of the best medical schools in the world, the Karolinska Institute has won recognition from such organizations as Shanghai Jiao Tong University as the only one of the world’s top 10 medical schools not based in the United States. Acting in tandem with its partner hospital, the Karolinska University Hospital, the institute serves as one of the largest research and training centers for medicine in Sweden.

On December 13, 1810, Kung Karl XIII established the Karolinska Institute, in the hope that the school would serve as an academy to train skilled surgeons. The Finnish War, in which the country fought against Russia, resulted in the loss of 33 percent of soldiers wounded on the battlefield. The Karolinska Institute, the King hoped, put the nation of Sweden in a better position to weather the storms of future wars.

The following year, the Karolinska Institute earned a license to train general medical practitioners as well as surgeons. Although the school’s original name was the Carolinska Institutet, officials later changed it to Kongliga Carolinska Medico Chirurgiska Institutet, translating as Royal Caroline Medical School. The new name attracted more students to the school, although in 1968, the school took on its current moniker.

Construction of a number of new facilities commenced throughout the 19th century, and the school won the right to confer medical degrees. Prior to winning that authority, the Karolinska Institute offered medical courses but students could not receive a degree from the school. By 1888, the reputation of the school spurred a recommendation by Alfred Nobel that the Karolinska Institute choose the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Today, the Karolinska Institute continues to strive for excellence. The many health care issues taken up by students at the school include nutrition, cancer screening, and chromosome replication.

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