New honorary doctorates at the Faculty of Medicine

2 October 2015

Physician and researcher Shams Arifeen, who has made great strides towards the health-related Millennium Development Goals, the leading biochemist Gudmund Skjåk-Braek, and Gunilla Hasselgren, house doctor on the TV programme Fråga doktorn (‘Ask the Doctor’), have been made honorary doctors by the Faculty of Medicine at Uppsala University.

Dr Shams Arifeen is an eminent representative of the group of international researchers who have contributed most to the success of the health-related Millennium Development Goals, especially those concerning reduced child and maternal mortality. As the head of the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI), he was responsible for assigning priority to research which has advanced global child health and nutrition. He has produced studies upon which WHO and UNICEF recommendations have been based. Among other projects, he has carried out successful intervention studies designed to reduce infant mortality caused by infections and studies aimed at involving local communities in improved maternity and paediatric health care.

Professor Gudmund Skjåk-Braek is a biochemist at Trondheim University. For more than twenty years, he has been a world-leader in his field: alginate research. These polysaccharides are made from brown algae found in Norwegian fiords. They can form polymers which prevent the transport of large immunologically active molecules. Encapsulating the so-called Islands of Langerhans in the pancreas in this material protects them from attack by the immune system of people with type 1 diabetes who have undergone transplants. It does so without affecting other metabolically active substances, such as insulin.

Gunilla Hasselgren is a general practitioner who took her medical degree at Uppsala University. Since autumn 2003, she has served as the house doctor for the enormously popular Fråga Doktorn on SVT. Gunilla Hasselgren answers questions about common medical problems from both viewers and studio guests. The programme also provides general advice on illness prevention and other health matters. The programme showcases Gunilla Hasselgren’s in-depth medical knowledge which she communicates in an instructive and confidence-inspiring manner. Gunilla Hasselgren, who has also written several books, has meant a lot to the field of medicine and people’s health. She serves as a highly regarded representative for general medicine in its widest meaning.