Three new honorary doctors at the Faculty of Medicine

2 November 2017

The Faculty of Medicine at Uppsala University has named Professor Walter Doerfler at Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Professor Kari Kustaa Alitalo at the University of Helsinki and musician Ulf Johansson Werre, Artistic Director of Musicum, Uppsala University, new honorary doctors.

Walter Doerfler has been active as a professor at Rockefeller University in New York and at the universities in Cologne and Erlangen in Germany. He is one of Europe’s most prominent virologists and molecular biologists. His research has concerned mechanisms behind virus propagation and tumour transformation. Recently, his research has focused on the methylation of DNA and he has been a foreground figure in so-called epigenetics. He was one of the researchers who showed the connection between methylation of DNA and gene expression. Another area in which Walter Doerfler has conducted much noted efforts concerns the consequences of the intake of foreign DNA in laboratory animals. He has been honoured with a number of scholarly awards, including the Robert Koch Prize. On several occasions, Walter Doerfler has been a visiting research fellow and opponent in Uppsala.

Kari Kustaa Alitalo is an internationally leading researcher in the area of angiogenesis/lymphangiogenesis (new formation of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels) who is active at the University of Helsinki. Early in his research career, Kari Kustaa Alitalo studied mechanisms of cancer transformation of cells and made several important observations that laid the foundation for the research he has conducted since. Among other things, he showed that the receptor VEGFR3 controls lymphangiogenesis and was the first researcher in the world to show how growth factors control the development of the lymphatic system. Kari Kustaa Alitalo has characterised the molecular mechanisms that control angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis and has also shown that these molecules are involved in the development of the central nervous system. In the past 25 years, he has been a leading researcher in his field of research. Kari Kustaa Alitalo has had and still has extensive contact with Uppsala University.

Ulf Johansson Werre studied medicine in Uppsala, but ended his medical studies to study jazz music at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and in the U.S. He has since mainly worked as a freelance musician, but he also has extensive interest in education and has led courses at several colleges of music. He has extensive musical qualifications and is internationally renowned as both a pianist and trombonist. Since 2004, Johansson Werre has been the Artistic Director at Musicum at Uppsala University.  Among other things, he founded the Uppsala University Jazz Orchestra, of which both students and teachers are a part. Music can have strong effects on both practitioners and listeners. Besides pure emotional stimulus, there are studies that indicate other effects, which has led music to be used in therapeutic contexts, mainly to relieve symptoms of pain and anxiety, but music has also been tested for dementia and neurological diseases. Ulf Johansson Werre has a great interest in the area of music and health and the effects of music on the brain and has held seminars on the topic.

The Conferment Ceremony will take place in the University Main Building on 26 January 2018.