Medicor 2018 #2

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medicor medicinska föreningen’s

2018 #2

student magazine

THE 2018 NOBEL PRIZES page 6





WHAT ABOUT #METOO? page 22 1

Prelude medicor magasin Grundad 2006. Trettonde årgången. Utges av Medincinska Föreningen i Stockholm. ISSN: 1653-9796 Ansvarig utgivare: Isabelle Wemar Tryck och reproduktion: DanagårdLitho Utgivningsplan 2018: nr 1, maj; nr 2, november. Adress: Medicinska Föreningen i Stockholm Nobels Väg 10, Box 250, 171 77, Stockholm Kontakt: Frilansmaterial: Medicor förbehåller sig rätten att redigera inkommet material och ansvarar inte för icke beställda texter och bilder, ej heller för tryckfel. Upphovsperson svarar för, genom Medicor publicerat, signerat frilansmaterial; hens åsikter representerar nödvändigtvis inte Medicors eller Medicinska Föreningens. Freelance material: Medicor retains the right to edit contributed content and does not take responsibility for unsolicited texts or pictures, nor printing mistakes. The contributor agrees, through published and signed Medicor material, that their opinions do not necessarily represent those of Medicor or Medicinska Föreningen.

Photo: Caroline Olby/Olby Foto for Medicor

“The world is changed. I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, I smell it in the air…” In addition to this being the opening narration to one of the best film series in history (Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings”, do not contest me!), this is an accurate description of the current state of our world. Globally, we are facing climate change; internationally, the geopolitical arena is in turmoil; continentally, the European Union is dealing with Brexit; nationally, Sweden still is waiting for a new government to be formed. Here at Karolinska Institutet, we have gone through a huge reorganization with the opening of the new buildings, Neo, Bioclinicum, and Biomedicum; while Medicinska Föreningen’s building is also under renovation. In fact, even Medicor has undergone transformations; one of them being me taking over as Editor in Chief succeeding Joanne Bakker, who did an amazing job during the first half of 2018. The developments mentioned above span wide and far, but as part of the Internet Generation, I have been raised to embrace all kinds of change. Always anticipating the next upgrade, update or expansion, it is easy to forget what I do not want to change – that is, what I want to last – until progress is inevitable. For instance, the recent Facebook icon update (come on, Facebook Graphics Team, you can do better), the closing of Dunkin’ Donuts in Sweden (I know, it is good for me in the long-term), or the eventual transition from paper magazines to online feeds (Medicor is not quite there yet!). That is why we in this issue of Medicor discuss not only what should change, but also what should not – the overarching theme is development and sustainability.

However, sustainability is not only about preserving Mother Nature; it is also about creating a society that bolsters every citizen. We address this aspect in “Men’s Rights Are Human Rights” and “Making Waves”, as gender equality plays a big role in social sustainability. From a more local perspective, “What About #metoo?” investigates the result of the #metoo movement on Karolinska Institutet. Aside from in our articles, development and sustainability play a central role in Medicor’s other activities. Over the past year, we have increased our online presence by recruiting new team members that manage our social media outlets. We have also restored our website to its former glory and now update it continuously. Lastly, we are expanding our real-life presence as well – this semester, we held our biggest workshop yet in digital design – so keep a look out for future Medicor events that will be announced on our Facebook page. Going back to the theme of this issue, I am very proud of the progress Medicor has made. Our achievements would not have been possible without a hard-working editorial board (curious about who they are? Have a look at page 14), eager contributors, and you, our dedicated readers. But our work has only begun; we have made the developments, so now we need to sustain them. With that said, I wish you an enjoyable read and ask this of you: remember to not only think about what you want to change, but also what you want to last.

At the mention of sustainability, the environment comes directly to mind. Our cover story, “It Takes a Global Village”, explores how the increasing demands on food production take a toll on our planet, and how this has forced the food industry to come up with novel solutions such as vertical farming. We were lucky to get an interview with the company Plantagon, a pioneer in the field in Sweden.

Cover: Photos inside CityFarm by Stefan Håkansson for Medicor. 2

Warm regards, despite the cold weather, Isabelle Wemar Editor in Chief

Overture 6









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Isabelle Wemar • Editor in Chief Paula Valente-Silva • Associate Editor Lauren Lyne • Editor of Campus | Patrik Bjärterot • Editor of Science Millie Cepelak • Editor of Global Focus | Yolanda Rao • Editor of Culture


Millie Cepelak, Yiqi Huang, Lauren Lyne, Maria Lysandrou, Milja Miettinen, Victoria Muliadi, Irina Polishchuk, Yolanda Rao, Elizabeth Vaisbourd, Paula Valente-Silva, Isabelle Wemar • Layout Design | Giovanni Cioffi, Pontus Dannberg, Andreas Furth, Stefan Håkansson, Lauren Lyne, Iris Peña Arriarán, Elizabeth Vaisbourd, Paula Valente-Silva, Isabelle Wemar • Photographers| Laura Andersson, Millie Cepelak, Ayla De Paepe, Andreas Furth, Johanna Hagman, Theresa Mader, Victoria Muliadi, Iris Peña Arriarán, Yolanda Rao, Dasha Shvaikovskaya, Elizabeth Vaisbourd, Paula Valente-Silva, Emmanuel Zavalis, Boyao Zhang • Writers | Lina Abdel-Halim, Martin Axegård, Millie Cepelak, Delia Denisa Dunca, Diana Khidri, Viktoria Knoflach, Charlotte Jackson, Elizabeth Oliver, Sofia Pilström, Sissela Sjögren, Emmanuel Zavalis• Proofreaders | Igor Cervenka, Niklas Elmehed/Nobel Media, Lauren Lyne, Makyzz/Freepik, Caroline Olby/Olby Foto, Pexels, Pixabay, Women on Waves • Other Graphics


Aperture When the season of darkness, cold, and even later SL departures has begun, it is easy to succumb to the Swedish melancholy. At least sunsets as vibrant as this one remind us of brighter days to come. Want to showcase your photography skills? Contacs us on Facebook or email and you just might see your photo here in the next issue of Medicor. 4

Photo: Isabelle Wemar for Medicor



The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine – novel strategies to combat old diseases

Photo: Paula Valente-Silva for Medicor

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been jointly awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo “for their discovery of cancer therapy against infections caused by inhibition of negative immune regulation”. The announcement was made by the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, on the 1st of October at Nobel Forum, Karolinska Institutet. by Dasha Shvaikovskaya Cancer, a global epidemic In the past decades, cancer has become a global epidemic. According to WHO, 9.6 million people are estimated to die from cancer in 2018 and another 18 million to be diagnosed with this disease. Cancer is one of the major public health concerns and calls for more effective preventative measures, and novel more precise cancer therapies. In general, cancer can be described as an abnormal growth of cells that have endless proliferative capacity and can potentially spread into distant organs and tissues, or metastasize. Malignant tumours are also known for being able to evade the body’s immune destruction mechanisms, thus making it harder to find proper treatment. The vast majority of current therapeutic approaches that are used to treat cancer patients include surgery, radio- and chemotherapy, as hormonal and immune therapy options. All of them possess a great number of undesirable side-effects, and therefore new strategies against cancer have been intensively researched around the globe with our latest Nobel Laureates standing out from the scientific community.


What regulates our immune system? The idea of activation of our own immune system against cancer cells has been around from the late 19th century. Some approaches, such as infecting the patients with certain bacteria or viruses, were only effective for specific types of tumors. Nevertheless, the fundamental ability of our immune system to distinguish between the “self” and “non-self”, with T-cells being the main players in this process, has been extensively studied. It was discovered that, in order to trigger the T-cell (a type of a white blood cell) response to the foreign “non-self” antigen, specific signaling proteins have to bind to the receptors on the T-cell surface to activate the response. These additional proteins were found to function as either accelerators or brakes of the T-cell activity, essential to strictly regulate the immune response towards foreign microorganisms. The question remained though: could the immune cells be “reprogrammed” in such way to specifically attack and eliminate cancer cells?

A new and promising concept for immune therapy One of the aforementioned T-cell regulatory proteins – CTLA-4 – was extensively studied in one of the research labs at the University of California, Berkeley, back in the 1990s. Several researchers, among whom was James. P. Allison, noticed that CTLA-4 acts as a brake on Tcells. Some members of the scientific community saw that as a novel strategy to treat autoimmune diseases, whereas Allison hypothesized that this mechanism could be exploited as a way to “attack” the cancer cells. Allison and his co-workers had further developed the antibody that could bind to CTLA-4 and prevent it from further action. Next, they aimed to investigate whether CTLA-4 blockade could disconnect the T-cell brake and liberate the immune system response towards the tumor cells. The set of experiments performed by Allison and his colleagues in 1994-1995 were proven to be extremely successful: mice with tumors became tumor-free following the CLTA4 monoclonal antibody administration. These findings confirmed the hypothesis that blocking of CTLA-4 would enhance the T-cell anti-tumor response. The au-


thors then showed the CTLA-4 antibody efficacy in different animal tumor models, including prostate and breast cancers, as well as melanoma. Within a couple of years, Allison’s laboratory had proved several different tumor types to respond to the same treatment strategy. However, the following concept still remained elusive: could this “magic cure“ be translated into clinical practice? After some negotiations with several pharmaceutical companies, Allison managed to start a collaboration with the biotech company Medarex, which further allowed for the generation of the anti-CTLA-4 IgG1 human monoclonal antibody (currently known as ipilimumab) in 1999. The trials were then performed with several groups of melanoma patients, with the major breakthrough coming from a phase III trial for the treatment of inoperable, metastatic melanoma that showed a significantly increased overall survival. The success of this trial had lead to the subsequent approval of anti-CTLA-4 by the FDA and the EMA in 2011. PD-1 receptor discovery and its role in cancer immune responses In 1992, independently from Allison’s work, Tasuku Honjo in his laboratory at Kyoto University, Japan, discovered PD-1 (CD279), another protein expressed on the T-cell surface. Unsure about its main role and functions, Honjo and his colleagues continued exploring the mechanism of action that PD-1 possesses on Tcells. He generated a specific knock-out

mouse line deficient for this particular molecule. After almost a decade of genetic experiments, these mice had developed a phenotype of T-cell type driven autoimmune syndrome, similar to the one shown in CTLA-4 knock-out mice from Allison’s group. This made Honjo conclude that PD-1, comparable to CTLA-4, acts as a negative „brake“ controlling immune responses. Having identified the ligand for the PD-1 molecule and named it PD-L1, Honjo’s group suggested the possibility that some tumors may use PD-L1 to inhibit an antitumor immune response“, following the observation that the PD-L1 molecule was expressed by certain cancer cells. Moreover, clinical grade antibodies anti-PD-1 were developed and tested as a cancer treatment for patients with various types of advanced tumors (nonsmall-cell-lung cancer, melanoma, and renal cancer). In a clinical trial from 2012, anti-PD-1 antibodies showed phenomenal effects in many cases of metastatic cancers resulting in positive responses, manageable side-effects, and even regression of the disease. The drug was approved by FDA to be used for patients with metastatic squamous non-small cell lung cancer in March 2015 by and EMA approved the use of PD-1 blockade in Europe for treatment of melanoma the same year.

The future implications of today’s cancer checkpoint inhibitors For more than a decade now, anti-CTLA-4 and anti-PD-1 antibodies and their combinations have been successfully used to treat the patients with advanced metastatic melanomas. Commonly known as „immune checkpoint inhibitors“ (ICI), these drugs have shown to be relatively well tolerated and have improved the outcomes for several groups of patients with lung and renal cancers, as well as lymphoma and melanoma. Ongoing research on ICI is aiming to further improve the therapeutic strategies and reduce the side effects (such as adverse autoimmune events). Despite the challenges associated with ICI therapy that are yet to be overcome, this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine award for the discovery of a novel principle for tumor therapy gives hope for many patients suffering from this deadly disease. Removing the brakes in T-cells is a new form of immunotherapy that allows for a powerful, and often durable, immune response „directed against essentially any tumor already recognized by the immune system“. Given a large number of ongoing research experiments in the immune checkpoint field, it is highly possible that there will be major revolutionized cancer therapy developments in the nearby future. This clearly indicates the importance of the combined discoveries of Allison and Honjo and their valuable contribution towards the improvement of the health and well-being of mankind. •



The Nobel Prize in Physics

– the optical tweezers and the super laser

Photo: Paula Valente-Silva for Medicor

Physics is the study of movement and of the effects that arise when different forms of movement interact. At this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded by the Swedish Nobel Committee, the movement, and especially the inhibitionary powers of movement of light have been studied. But how would light ever manage to stop anything? by Andreas Furth Unbelievable precision Basking in sunlight, or standing under a large lamp, you would typically not feel even the tiniest of pressure. Arthur Ashkin, who due to his invention of optical tweezers, was just awarded one half of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics, has seemingly increased that pressure. He found a way of using concentrated light, namely lasers, to accurately, effectively, and harmlessly grab and manipulate everything from small particles and molecules to viruses and cells. This has made possible numerous applications in all the natural sciences, with the tweezers ability to keep things in place, in order to be studied, perhaps the greatest among them. The ability to move things with only peripheral interaction has for the longest time been a sci-fi trope. Early Star Trek popularised the tractor beam, which could grab and move whole spacecrafts almost on a whim. The original Star Wars borrowed that concept when a tractor beam is used to stop the daring escape of

“Arthur Ashkin has truly made sci-fi become reality.” 8

the millennium Falcon. Perhaps inspired by this, Arthur Ashkin has truly made Scifi become reality. The optical tweezers capitalize on the radiation pressure created by the light to focus the object. This pressure is stronger towards the center of the laser, which pushes the object in from the sides, similar to a river with a really strong current. With the addition of a focusing lens, the object would wind up carried into the apex of the lens, roughly analogous to how you would wind up in the whirlpools on a river rafting level in a video game. The capabilities of the optical tweezer technology has skyrocketed in later years, mainly due to extraordinary interest from other researchers, which has led to the ability to cut, push, pull, observe and rotate the objects without actually touching them. Super laser The other half of the prize was awarded to Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses, which eventually lead to the creation of the shortest, most intense laser pulse ever created. Their method has numerous applications in industrial and medical settings, as well as being the focus in several promising areas of research.

The principle behind the method is quite simple. Take a short laser pulse, increase its duration, amplify it, and then compress it. Think of it as increasing the density of bread dough by stretching out your dough, adding in extra dough (i.e amplifying it), and then squeezing it together to its original size. This will create ultra compact lasers (or loafs), that can be used with seemingly supernatural precision for a myriad of applications like to illuminate or cut. The compression is so great that the lasers wind up being expelled at extraordinarily small time frames, in the order of magnitude of femtoseconds, which is too short for any peripheral damage to occur to whatever is being lasered. This has enabled biological applications such as laser-eye surgery to become far safer and more accurate than ever before. •

Photo: Andreas Furth for Medicor


The Nobel Prize in Chemistry

– evolution in a test tube by Victoria Muliadi and Elizabeth Vaisbourd

Photo: Elizabeth Vaisbourd for Medicor

This year’s Nobel Laureates in Chemistry: Frances H. Arnold, George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter are celebrated for their discoveries of beneficial proteins through “harnessing the power of evolution”, as announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Evolution - from past to future Evolution is currentöy science’s best explanation as to how life formed; singlecellular microorganisms have evolved into today’s giraffes, salmon fish and baobab trees, but how? In over 3.7 billion years, random mutations in genetic material have led to species that are better adapted to the environment. This “survival of the fittest” concept was also used by our predecessors, the hunters-gatherers, when they domesticated animals for protection and plants for food. Yet, while these processes have taken many years to be fruitful, we, the thinkers, have become more curious, and maybe a bit more impatient. Could evolution be sped up to meet the challenges of the 21st century?

“If only we could speed up the evolutionary process.” The conception of directed evolution The year was 1993, Frances H. Arnold had been trying to rebuild enzymes that would produce “green” energy efficiently, but even modern computers could not yield a combination of amino acids that would form enhanced enzymes. “If only we could speed up the evolutionary process,” she pondered. Thus, the concept of directed evolution was conceived. As a model she used subsitilin, an enzyme that breaks down casein, milk protein. Errorprone PCR was used to introduce random mutations in order to synthesize a new

version of subsitilin that works in organic solvent rather than in water solution. The function of thousands of mutant enzymes were tested. The most efficient of these new enzymes were subjected to two more rounds of random mutations, yielding 265-fold increase in desirable activity of the new enzyme. Nowadays, Arnold’s vision has come true, and her enzymes are used to produce renewable fuel.

“They harnessed the power of evolution.” From enzymes to antibodies: future prospects While Frances Arnold worked with enzyme evolution, George Smith and Gregory Winter applied the evolutionary concept to another group of peptides antibodies. In 1985, George Smith devised a method that links known peptides with previously-unknown gene sequences using bacteriophages - viruses that inject their DNA into bacteria forcing them to manufacture more phages. It was later dubbed the ‘phage display’ method adopted by future scientists to synthesise biomolecules. Using the best genetic engineering tools of that time, he introduced various unknown gene fragments into the capsule protein genomes of phages, creating a library of phages with foreign peptides on their capsules’ surfaces. Any peptide-carrying phage can be isolated using antibodies with known protein targets. In one step, the identities of both the expressed peptide and the unknown gene

that was initially inserted can be determined. In the following decade, Winter’s work with antibodies blended both Smith’s phage display technique and the directed evolution from Arnold’s research. He created a variety of phages displaying the antibody region responsible for attachment to specific molecules. He used the antibody’s target protein as a “molecular fishing hook” to pull out desired antibody molecules. He then mutated these antibodies and selected those that attached strongly to the target. After repeating several rounds of mutation and selection, he discovered that each subsequent generation of antibodies had stronger and more specific attachments to the target protein. Today, Smith and Winter’s findings on phage display paved the way for the development of humanised antibodies used to treat autoimmune diseases and even metastatic cancer. Glancing back at evolution, we would call this process selection. Like our ancestors that cross-bred the grainiest wheat, these scientists have developed novel proteins to the benefit of humanity. •

Illustration: © Niklas Elmehed/Nobel Media



Making Waves

– when international waters become the last safe haven by Ayla De Paepe and Millie Cepelak

In August this year, 125 women swallowed abortion pills in the center of Seoul. They were protesting the country’s restrictive abortion laws, which cause 125 women per hour to turn to illegal and unsafe methods to end unwanted pregnancies. The protest was organized by Korean feminist organizations Femidangdang and Baumealame in collaboration with the Dutch organization Women on Waves — a group that has turned to drones, robots and international waters in order to provide women around the world with safe abortions. Another example is the UK, where in 2016 a 21-year-old Northern Irish woman was given a one-year suspended sentence after poisoning herself in order to terminate her pregnancy (1). In 2018, a Northern Irish mother was reported to the police for ordering abortion pills online for her 15-year-old daughter. It seems perverse that the consequences of wanting to abort are so starkly different depending on where you live. With these draconian laws dominating women’s lives around the world, would it not be great to have a mobile entity that can operate based on the laws of a country that values safe medical procedures for all, no matter where in the world you are? You could just enter this safe haven, get a safe and legal abortion, and go on with your life.

All photos © Women on Waves

Imagine you were pregnant Let us go on a little trip of the imagination. The starting point — you find yourself pregnant. If all the stars align, the pregnancy is planned and happens at a good time in your life, with plenty of resources and loving people around to help out. Or maybe it was not planned, but the child is still very much wanted, and your living conditions are pretty good all in all. Either way, congratulations! But what happens if you find yourself with an unplanned pregnancy that you can’t — or don’t want to — carry to term? If you live in Sweden and are less than 18 weeks pregnant, you pick yourself up, go to a midwife and get all of the advice and all of the options available to you. You take abortion pills or go to the hospital. You may need support to deal with the stress and emotional toll that often follows an unplanned pregnancy, but, other than that, you can move on with your life without any significant social, physical or legal repercussions. 10 10

“A 21-year-old Northern Irish woman was given a one-year suspended sentence after poisoning herself in order to terminate her pregnancy.” Abortion rights around the world How about other places in the world? Some countries have legal abortion, like Sweden, others do not. In some countries abortion is well on its way to becoming legalized, and in other countries forces are trying to revoke the right. We cannot choose where in the world we are born, but it has such great impact on our lives. You need not look further than Poland to find laws that severely restrict women’s rights to basic health services. In Poland, a pregnancy may only be terminated if a prosecutor finds that it was a result of a criminal act like rape – not for any other reason such as health or socioeconomic.

“A ship in international waters, meaning more than 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) off the coast, runs under the rule of the flag it is bearing.” Troubled waters According to international law, a ship in international waters, meaning more than 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) off the coast, runs under the rule of the flag it is bearing. Rebecca Gomperts, a Dutch physician with a Masters in Public Policy from Princeton University and a PhD from Karolinska Institutet (yes!), uses this concept to provide legal abortion for women up to 6.5 weeks into pregnancy. She founded Women on Waves in 1998, and since 2001 they have led successful campaigns in Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Guatemala and Mexico. On their ship, Women on Waves provides the medicines Mifepristone and Misoprostol, which have been on the

World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines since 2005. They also provide them in non-sea campaigns, like this May, when they sent pill-carrying robots (operated from the Netherlands) to Northern Ireland, and in earlier campaigns using drones to deliver pills to Poland. The issue of women’s reproductive health seems to be a ‘one step forward, two steps back’-kind of dance these days, even in supposedly developed countries. Although progress is slow, there have been some notable breakthroughs in 2018. “Abortion was decriminalized this year in Ireland, which is a Catholic country, and legislation to legalize abortion for women under 14 weeks of pregnancy is being pushed in Argentina,” Dr. Gomperts points out in a statement shortly after the Seoul protest in August. “South Korean women should also be able to choose abortion in a safe and dignified manner without fear of punishment.”

“Laws that ban abortion terrorize and isolate women. Women in many countries today still try to perform abortions on themselves by using knitting needles and other dangerous implements or by drinking bleach.”

Despite these setbacks, Dr. Gomperts remains adamant in her stance that access to women’s reproductive health services is a universal right: “Laws that ban abortion terrorize and isolate women. Women in many countries today still try to perform abortions on themselves by using knitting needles and other dangerous implements or by drinking bleach,” she says. “Not only is this very dangerous to women’s bodies, it also causes them to feel shame over abortion.”

“Where you live in the world should not determine your right to basic healthcare and bodily autonomy.” Safe havens should exist everywhere That is the end of our imaginative journey. Back to your own life. Here in Sweden, we can debate the legality of abortion as much as we like, but ultimately we are safe in the knowledge that whoever we are, and whatever we believe, we have the right to a safe and legal medical produre if we ever choose it. Where you live in the world should not determine your right to basic healthcare and bodily autonomy.

In the world we live in today, GLOBAL FOCUS we are lucky to have organizations like Women on Waves providing us with safe havens. Hopefully, both land and water will soon enough be safe for women in every country. • References 1. The Guardian/McDonald H. 2016. Northern Irish woman given suspended sentence over self-induced abortion [Internet]. Retrieved October 23 2018 from www. 2. Women on Waves. 2004. Portugal 2004 [Internet]. Retrieved October 23 2018 from 3. The Independent/Cuthbertson A. 2018. abortion robots confiscated by police for distributing pills at Belfast protest. Retrieved October 23 2018 from 4. EDRi/Bits of Freedom. 2018. Women on Waves: how internet companies police our speech. Retrieved October 23 2018 from • The Women on Waves and Women on Web websites give an overview of the abortion laws in all countries in the world, along with detailed instructions and counseling - check it out.

Portuguese warships, robot arrests, and other setbacks As you might imagine, not everyone is thrilled with the work that Women on Waves does. In addition to public protests and death threats, some of the organization’s campaigns have received political pushback from the countries they have tried to reach. In 2004, one of their boats was blocked from entering Portuguese national waters by Portuguese warships (2), even though it is against the law to refuse a ship to dock. In Northern Ireland this spring, the organization’s pill-delivering robots were ‘arrested’ (3), and this year alone the organization’s YouTube account has been shut down three times due to “violating (YouTube’s) community guidelines” (4). Given the rather short time span that they have to help women (6.5 weeks of pregnancy); heavy push back from antiabortion countries and the sheer number of women seeking abortion, Women on Waves’ boat and robot campaigns are largely limited to serving as an awareness raising campaign, rather than a farreaching solution for all women seeking abortion. Women on Web provides the same medication online, but if your country doesn’t allow abortion, it can still be illegal to take them at home, and you can be prosecuted if caught.



Into the Black –the real price of Black Friday The backdrop for the creation of the term Black Friday is not a pretty one. The first time it was mentioned in modern history, it was used by a belligerent police force to describe public chaos and riots. Today Black Friday is almost a holiday in and of itself, but what price are we really paying for our post-Thanksgiving deals? by Emmanuel Zavalis

The genesis of Black Friday Beginning in the 1950’s in Philadelphia; every year, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the army and navy would organize a football game in the city, leading to packed streets and mayhem. Police officers started calling the day ‘Black Friday’, because instead of having that Saturday off they had to work overtime, dealing with the crowds and chaos that ensued. Retailers later tried to change the name to fit with their image of the day. When that didn’t take, they settled with changing the origin story, claiming that the day after Thanksgiving is the first day of the year that stores go into the black. In recent years, Black Friday has been bred into a 4-day bonanza, including Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday (1). In the US, the phenomenon has long been characterized by rabid buying and selling, and in recent years it has been adopted by retailers in other parts of the world too. A holiday of inequality Somehow this frenzy has evolved into a holiday in and of itself, and I guess that watching broke people stay broke is worthy of a holiday these days. I have noticed that there is a clear distinction between


consumers: the wealthy buy products simply because they’re a fraction of the price, while the rest buy out of desperation. Furthermore, this holiday creates otherworldly demands on staff, who are forced to work long hours — even on Thanksgiving — often under threat of termination. It’s also a health and safety risk, with the uncontrolled trampling and shoving that the day entails. (2) I will not throw any statistics your way or put up a big diagram that proves my point. It is undisputed that consumerism is bad for the environment, but we shouldn’t forget that it’s not just about environmental sustainability in this case: it is first and foremost about economic sustainability. Overspending is a danger to any sort of sustainability. When you live beyond your means, you are not living sustainably, and those at risk of overspending are sadly the people who are targeted the most by commercial holidays such as Black Friday. They have a low income and a low level of assets, while their expenses are similar to non-over spenders that earn significantly more. (3) Black Friday is not so much a capitalist exploitation coloring outside the lines the

system allows, as an expression of the inequality within education. You cannot hate wealth for preserving itself. However, if one group is more educated on how to deal with their finances, while the other is not, meaning they stay broke, the only way to have a better future is financial freedom. This might be where Black Friday and the mass consumerism it has invigorated forms a danger to some people. It is a monkey wrench thrown into their financial sustainability, and therefore also into the world’s environmental sustainability. Change takes courage, and in the words of Charles Bukowski: “Courage comes from the belly – all else is desperation.” • References 1. HISTORY/Pruitt S. 2015. What’s the real history of Black Friday? [Internet]. Retrieved October 23 2018 from 2. ThinkProgress/Covert B. Kmart To Employee: ‘If You Do Not Come To Work On Thanksgiving, You Will Automatically Be Fired’ [Internet]. Retrieved October 23 2018 from 3. Bae M, Hanna S, Lindamood S. 1993. Patterns of overspending in US households. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 4(1), I-30.

International Men’s Day is celebrated around the world on the 19th of November. If you are surprised to learn that such a day exists, you are not alone — so was I! With the current increasing momentum of the #metoo movement, with (mostly) female sexual assault victims coming out more and more (and still fighting for their right to be heard and taken seriously), it is easy to forget that men and boys also have legitimate issues to face. In today’s fast-changing society, where women’s rights take up the social media feeds, it is easy to forget that men struggle to keep up with change as well. A day for men and boys According to the official website (www., the purpose of International Men’s Day is to improve the health of boys and men, highlight male role models and promote gender equality. An interesting thought (at least for me when I first approached this article), as ‘gender equality’ seems to be an issue usually touted by women. According to the International Men’s Day (IMD) page, it is more usual to find single mothers than single fathers raising children, and therefore male children of single mothers lack a male role model growing up, which may lead to identity issues and trouble finding their gender role. While it can be accepted that most of these children will be surrounded by mostly women in their early years (as most teachers, nurses etc are women), the fact that this results in children who are less well-rounded and more prone to crime (as IMD states) could be disputed. Furthermore, the tone of the website when describing the handicaps in the education of male children by single mothers almost reads as an accusation to these single mothers themselves, which adds nothing to the issue at hand. If gender equality is really the aim for IMD, why would we discredit the work and sacrifice of any single parent, regardless of gender?

“If gender equality is really the aim for IMD, why would we discredit the work and sacrifice of any single parent, regardless of gender?”


Men’s Rights Are Human Rights – the unexplored potential of International Men’s Day by Paula Valente-Silva

Picture: International Men’s Day, modified by Isabelle Wemar for Medicor

Speaking of sacrifice, the IMD crowd naturally has its own strong opinions on the subject. Their website states that “Men make sacrifices everyday in their place of work, in their role as husbands and fathers, for their families, for their friends, for their communities and for their nation.” This seems to feed the toxic masculinity issue they should be fighting - after all, sharing the same duties as your wife is not a sacrifice, it is equality. Toxic masculinity and finger pointing aside, there is another issue here — what is the male gender role?

“Toxic masculinity and finger pointing aside [...] what is the male gender role?” From hunters and breadwinners to... ? In recent decades, women have been conquering equal rights, equal pay and entering a job market previously dominated by men. On the other hand, men who enter roles previously assigned to women — either in the job market or as house-husbands — are still questioned about their choices as if they were less valid than working as a lawyer or a doctor. We could even ask why are these professions are seen as “less”? Why do we choose to degrade both genders by undervaluing work that focuses on home/caretaking? In this regard, the International Men’s Day website does, to its credit, share some great tips to include a male presence more in children’s upbringing and make sure that men know how to be “present” for their children.

Taking it like a man Mental health awareness has gained a lot of traction in recent years, but is still a great taboo. Even more so for men, who have to... well, “take it like a man”. Traditionally, men have been described as the strong independent type, bread winners who are immune to all feeling. Any display of feelings, doubt or insecurity from men is still highly frowned upon (as so eloquently put in the expression that demeans both genders in one fell swoop: “stop crying like a girl”). Male victims of sexual assault endure an even deeper stigma than female victims. These are important issues in which the associated shame affects men significantly more than women, and should be included in IMD’s agenda. Their website however, seems more focused on highlighting roles that they perceive that women are not capable of filling. Equality is for all In this ever-changing society, it is good to remember that both men and women struggle to find their new place and role. While women are seen as pioneers fighting their way into equal rights in every aspect of society, men struggle to find their new place as well and issues like homecaring, mental illness, and reducing stigma associated with being the victim of a crime should also be included in IMD agenda. International Men’s Day should be fighting to show that it is possible to take on roles and attributes that have typically been assigned to women without being ‘less of a man’, but rather more of a human. •


The Editorial Board of Medicor (left to right, back to front): Theresa Mader, online coordinator Lauren Lyne, campus editor Millie Cepelak, global focus editor Isablle Wemar, editor in chief Jonny Nordström, web designer Patrik Bjärterot, science editor Yolanda Rao, culture editor Paula Valente-Silva, associate editor Irina Polishchuk, social manager Chaitra Srinivas, Instagram manager

This is teamwork. Medicor is one of the biggest student magazines in Sweden, and the only one published in English. We are very proud of the quality our content, and we need your help to keep on raising the bar. We are always looking for writers, photographers, proofreaders, layout designers and illustrators. Join our Facebook group “Medicor Contributors” or email to find out more.




We are entering an era of population explosion, food shortage and climate changes. These interconnected problems have already led to serious environmental problems such as soil exhaustion, deforestation and ecosystem disruption, which in turn has led to a loss of 33% of arable land on Earth in the past 40 years. Things will only get worse with the growing population - estimated to be at least 10 billion people by the end of this century (as predicted by the United Nations). This means that we have to come up with solutions that could utilise the resources on Earth more sustainably so that our offspring can continue living on this planet. Food is one of the primary needs for humans, and hence has been priorly targeted by many countries in the world. Sustainable farming is a concept that is frequently discussed in relation to sustainable development and is related not only to agriculture but also to economy, environment, and politics. In this issue’s cover story we look at what sustainable farming means in countries at different socioeconomic stages, with a focus on how science and technological development can have an impact on it.

by Boyao Zhang



The future is hunger The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has predicted that the world population will reach 9.1 billion by 2050, which will have to be accompanied by a 70% increase in global food production in order to avoid global hunger. In response to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals set in 2015, there has been international investment into agricultural and economic infrastructure, which has resulted in promising progress in reducing the number of undernourished people in the world. Unfortunately, there has been a reversal of the trend since 2016, and since then the number of undernourished people has increased to nearly 821 million in 2017, from around 804 million in 2016 (see infograph). Nearly 256 million people in Africa are undernourished, representing 21% of the population, and this number has reached 515 million people in Asia,


with a significant slowdown of the decreasing trend in undernourishment (see infographic). The hunger issue is not limited to developing countries, and in fact extreme poverty and undernourishment exist within developed countries as well. We should all be alarmed by these figures, not only because people are currently facing a survival crisis, but also because there are research results showing that maternal and infant/child food deprivation can cause epigenetic changes which can reprogram the metabolic pathways in children and increase the risk of diet-related health issues in further generations. “Children who have suffered from undernutrition and were born with low birthweight or are short for their age (stunted) are at far greater risk of developing weight problems and obesity when faced with energy-dense diets and a sedentary lifestyle later in life,” according to WHO. This means that actions need to be taken at all levels of society in order to prevent an intergenerational cycle of malnutrition.

The goals to be achieved in different countries might vary due to different ecological and economical situations in different societies. Sustainable farming is in the eye of the beholder The concept of ‘sustainable farming’ arose in the 1980s, and was defined as "an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will last over the long term." In other words, and therefore the approaches should be more thoughtfully designed to have the most positive impact for individual societies. In developed countries, where the basic needs for food have already been fulfilled, more effort could be invested into developing novel technologies and original farming methods (we will discuss the tremendous progress some de-

veloped countries have made later). In comparison, developing countries might be faced with more pressing problems with hunger, and an immediate step forward for them would be to invest in already existing technologies that help to improve crop yields, diversity and income. For these countries, sustainable farming will be more about how to improve farming techniques for continued crop growth, whereas in developed countries the focus will be on the development of technology to aid in food production.

circumstances and economic difficulties, paired with increased migration has lead to disruptions in farmers’ normal networks, and hence a loss of information exchange. Apps and other digital platforms that allow sharing such information are becoming more and more useful. Startup companies such as UjuziKalimo in Kenya for example, are now incorporating big data about soil, weather, and seeds into machine learning tools to deliver real-time information for farmers, helping them achieve higher productivity.

Simple technologies can help ease the transition from traditional to sustainable farming

Previous breakthroughs in agriculture, farming techniques and equipment has led to a tremendous increase in productivity, but also to a surge in pesticide usage, reduced biodiversity, soil erosion, and water pollution. These outcomes are the causes of disruption of the whole ecosystem, which damages future farming practices and sustainable food production. Although a direct reversal of these trends would be ideal, it might be devastating to farmers who are used to traditional farming techniques, since the integrity of the farming infrastructure is likely to be disrupted.

Conflicts and violence have been reported as the main causes of hunger in several regions such as African and Near East nations, according to last year’s report from State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI). 490 million hungry people live in those countries, including 122 million children. This year’s report adds yet another factor: the variable and extreme global climate has doubled the number of natural disasters, such as heatwaves, droughts, floods and storms. And such variability can have significant implications in food availability, prices and safety.

COVER STORY In order to keep the balance between mitigating the risks for the farmers and increasing the sustainability of our land, precision farming might be the way to go. Within an information exchange system, many aspects of farming can be shared between farmers in order to maximise productivity. These factors include biomass and fertilisation status of the livestock; weather and climate, etc. Such development should of course be accompanied with proper data management and government, to take into account problems with cost and job losses due to digitalisation. Other than changing the actual farming techniques, genetically modified (GM) food has been widely accepted by farmers in developing countries. Gene modifications are introduced to crops in order to increase yields while also reducing the use of insecticides. However, it is of concern that the antibiotic resistant genes could be transferred from the GM plants to human gut bacteria. Also, they might outcross with conventional crops. Nevertheless, precautionary

While conflicts and violence are often out of the control of farmers, the loss caused by natural disasters brought on by climate change can sometimes be avoided by embracing simple technologies. Farmers usually base their decisions for cropping and harvesting on factors such as weather, price information, transport and logistics. Such information is normally obtained via their personal networks. However, political

Mia Kleregård, CEO of Plantagon Production Sweden AB, standing inside CityFarm, which is located in the basement of a 26-story building



Looking back in history, humans have done a good job of improving crop yields by adopting new farming techniques and embracing new chemicals. Changing from harrow to disk plough for land preparation; from hand sowing to machine sowing; from water pump irrigation to automatic micro irrigation; from manual weeding to rotational moulding and from knife harvesting to backhoe harvesting - all together, all these evolutions greatly improved efficiency of farming. However, what we did not expect was the subsequent soil erosion, pollution, and deforestation. By using pesticides we have been able to protect plant growth, but have also induced health problems in humans due to exposure to these chemicals. This has highlighted the need to take both efficiency and sustainability into consideration — especially in developing countries — and make better predictions of the consequences of new techniques in order to avoid unexpected disruption in the ecosystem as much as possible. regulations have been developed and research is ongoing. Moreover, if the availability of GM crops is increased for farmers within developing countries, it might help maintain the integrity of their social and cultural practice since the yield can be increased without changing the local, conventional farming approaches.

Agriculture goes corporate Rather than changing what we plant and eat using research results, a safer and more direct option might be to enhance farming efficiency as much as possible by optimising growth conditions. The Netherlands is a pioneer country in developing farming technologies which have helped the country to achieve a 90% reduction in dependence on water for key crops; reduced use of antibiotics by as much as 60% and led to complete elimination of pesticides on plants that are grown in greenhouses. 80% of the cultivated land of the country is cultivate in green houses. Not only have they try to implement artificial light to promote photosynthesis of the crops and rotary milking machines to more efficiently produce dairy products, but they have also recycled fish waste to fertilize tomatoes, and developed generators that can convert energy stored in natural gases into electricity. These methods have transformed this small nation into the second largest food export source in the world. 18

The example set by the Netherlands demonstrates the trendy concept of vertical farming. Rather than wasting lots of land area on crops and animals, vertical farming vertically stacks many layers of farming into single (sometimes already existing) buildings. Other than the advantages mentioned above, vertical farming can greatly reduce land usage by humans, which helps to lower the risk of deforestation. It also reduces costs and transportation, and therefore also pollution.

Farming within megacities Sweden takes the wheel The Swedish company Plantagon was established ten years ago and is making promising progress with vertical farming, not only in Sweden but also in Singapore and China. We had the pleasure to interview the new CEO for Plantagon Production Sweden AB, Mia Kleregård, who has enthusiastically shared her experience of being an industry leader and her vision on the future of agriculture. The company's mission is to reduce farming’s dependence on natural sources such as soil, sunlight and water as much as possible. Plantagon is collaborating with researchers from Sweco and the Swedish University of Agriculture to develop optimised formulae to grow not only basil but also other edible plants in the future without using pesticides. The com-

pany has also come up with a strategy which reuses the excessive heat produced from greenhouses to heat up water for human use, and recycles the carbon dioxide produced from humans for plant growth. In fact, this win-win approach has saved the company the cost of their three year lease. Moreover, the ‘soil’ they use for growing basil is produced from recycled PET bottles. A particularly attractive aspect to Plantagon is the fact that the farm is located in the basement of a 26-floor office tower, proving that this model can be duplicated in many unused areas of high-rise buildings, such as abandoned parking lots. The food produced can be directly sold to people working in the same building or grocery stores closeby to reduce the use of fossil fuels used in transPlantations at CityFarm

portation. This could prove especially helpful for countries such as Singapore, where the arable land is very limited. Such strategic combination between office and farming would allow economic growth and sustainable farming to take place simultaneously. Speaking of sustainable development, Kleregård also points out that there has always been an element of humanity at the core of the business, namely a non-profit body represented by members of regulatory bodies and ethical committees. The non-profit body forms an essential part of the company, ensuring that the development of the company is achieved in a transparent, democratic and socially responsible way. In terms of future vision, Plantagon is planning to scale up their production pipeline by incorporating even more technologies (e.g. artificial intelligence for automated pipeline production and quality monitoring) so that the company is able to feed more people in Stockholm in a more efficient way. This will require support from society, and as Kleregård points out, universities and media should help “spread the word so that people can realise the potential of such technologies and their benefits for future generations”. The company also aims to reduce meat production and combat hunger by producing vegetarian alternatives to meat. In this way another obstacle in sustainable development – antibiotic resistance – might be circumvented., as the resistance often arises from massproduction of livestock and poultry in many developing countries.

It takes a village: is vertical farming the future? From a sustainable point of view, implementing hightech farming technologies in less developed countries will probably be more beneficial to farming and the environment in the

long run than the transport from developed countries. The high purchase and maintenance costs of such technologies are still a major obstacle for their implementation in developing nations, as well as the potential job losses from the automization of these farming techniques. One way of solving this is global collaborations between developing and developed countries, since the relatively large land and population bases in developing countries would be a great source for generating big data on soil, plant types and climate changes. Interestingly, establishing sites in less developed countries is actually easier compared to more developed countries, according to Kleregård, since those countries tend to be more openminded when it comes to “adapting to new innovations”, while developed countries tend to be more conservative. Although it is good that we are conscious and cautious about the potential outcomes of innovations, some lessons are only to be learned by trial-and-error, and to influence future development, as Kleregård says, we have to “dare to actually make a change”. •



Infographic: Igor Cervenka for Medicor Photos: Stefan Håkansson for Medicor Text: Boyao Zhang for Medicor Thanks to Mia Kleregård and Plantagon Production Sweden AB!

Infographic references and sources:

– Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; State of Food Security and Nutrition – IFPRI, Global Hunger Index – World Food Programme; 2018 Hunger Map – [Internet] –; Top 9 Causes of World Hunger [Internet] –; Hunger and Undernourishment, Yields and Land Use in Agriculture [Internet] – [Internet] – [Internet]


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– the unsung hero of Karolinska Institutet by Giovanni Cioffi

Hej på dig, and welcome (back) to Karolinska Institutet! I hope you had a relaxing summer and are now ready to get into whatever it is you are doing here. Whether your days are all about hanging out with mice to save the world, looking up for the one hundredth time how much adrenalin you are supposed to give Agda, or just spicing things up by learning everything about capsaicin and the receptors it binds to, I hope you will appreciate this article. This is no abstract for the newest randomized study. It is indeed a study, but not really random – this is a survival guide. There is an old stereotype that students constantly consume coffee. It is true. Coffee is there when we need it. Sweden has a strong coffee culture, maybe only second to Finland. By studying and living in Sweden you risk further increasing your caffeine consumption to nearly lethal doses. That is why a coffee guide is needed. The beverage will take a good chunk of our earnings, we might as well be mindful consumers. For the purpose of this guide I will take into account three very important parameters: distance (D) to the nearest lecture hall, taste (T) and price (P).

Photo: Lauren Lyne for Medicor Jöns Jacob (D:10; T:5; P:4) TOTAL: 6/10 A regular cup of coffee at KI Solna’s iconic lunch restaurant/cafeteria might just be what you need to start off your morning routines. You could get cheaper coffee elsewhere, but let’s be honest, you’re not going to go anywhere else in between lectures. JJ is always there to meet your needs, 15 kr a cup. Café Erik Jorpes, Aula Medica: (D:7; T:8; P:10) TOTAL: 8/10 For the more adventurous coffee drinker that likes that 150 meter walk between classes. Welcome to a cozy environment inside KI’s most beautiful building. Wide range of coffee products and friendly staff with a starting price of 10 kr for a small cup of coffee. Pressbyrån KS, Solna (D:8; T:6; P:8) TOTAL: 7/10 Feelin’ like taking a road trip but sold your car because you are a student now and you no longer can afford one? Welcome to Pressbyrån at the Karolinska hospital. Here you will be welcomed by the nostalgic convenience-store-at-a-gasstation aura that you used to smell when you had money and could go places. 10 kr for a student coffee and collect stamps for a free beverage now and then!

“Here you will be welcomed by the nostalgic conveniencestore-at-a-gas-station aura that you used to smell when you had money and could go places.”

“DO NOT take leftover coffee on Mondays.” The leftover coffee from conferences (TLCFC): (D:10; T:N/A; P:10) TOTAL: 10/10 The untrained eye at KI might not see the value of those nearly empty thermoses that have been on the corner of the table for a few hours, but with a little practice, you will see it. It’s everywhere. Distance 10, because it’s right in front of you; price 10 because it’s free; Taste? Highly variable. Do not forget though there is an honor code, two golden rules that everyone is bound by. Make sure that they actually are leftovers (preferably by asking — no one needs enemies) and do not, I repeat DO NOT, take leftover coffee on Mondays. It has definitely been there over the weekend. Coffee is a constant Coffee is for some like the friend who tells you a joke and lends you a pen. It is cheerful, caring and a joy to have around. For others, it turned into the neighbor’s cat. It’s always around. Always. You cannot get out of the apartment without bumping into it. You’re so used to it that you don’t really notice it anymore. It’s a constant part of your life now.

“Coffe is for some like the friend who tells you a joke.” Whether you belong to the first, the second, or none of these groups, I hope you enjoyed this highly non-scientific short piece and will have use of it when it’s time to choose. Now take a sip of your coffee and turn the page for something more intellectual. •

Photo: Giovanni Cioffi for Medicor 21


What About #metoo? – – Karolinska Institutet’s response by Johanna Hagman

Photo: Lauren Lyne for Medicor

A year has passed since the beginning of the #metoo movement, but what has changed at Karolinska Institutet? I interviewed Laura Andersson, the vice president of Medicinska Föreningen, to learn what is happening behind the scenes. Tuesday, 17.50. At Medicinska Föreningen, by the reception. I see someone with dark hair and a bright green shirt on her way out of the doorway and I yell “Laura!”. She quickly turns around and greets me with a hug, smiling as usual. We are meeting to discuss Karolinska Institutet’s response to #metoo and what kind of support Medicinska Föreningen can offer students. A team that targets problems Laura is representing Medicinska Föreningen and the students at Karolinska Institutet in a special #metoo group that was created and is led by KI’s Vice-President Karin Dahlman-Wright. Laura: “This is a new [working] group, Arbetsgruppen #metoo, that was set up in response to #metoo. It is evaluating what is to be changed at KI and how these changes should be done.” She explains that this group consists of many representatives from all around Karolinska Institutet, in addition to experts in Human Resources and sexual harassment issues. What changes are to be expected in the future? Laura: “Currently the new guidelines are being created. It should be clear to everyone where one should turn in case of sexual harassment and discrimination, how this is dealt with and what the consequences are. Furthermore, there will soon be an online portal, which will simplify incident reporting and it will be


further improved. [...] Right now it is not that easy to find information about who to turn to. Hopefully this will become much clearer in the future. What kind of help can Medicinska Föreningen offer students? Laura: “I really want to recommend Nazira Hammoud Shahwan and Åsa Samuelsson Ökmengil; the students’ and doctoral students’ ombudspersons [studentombud och doktorandombud]. They have much experience in dealing with these kind of issues and provide professional secrecy.”

“It should be clear to everyone where one should turn in cases of sexual harassment.” Any final thoughts? Laura: “It might not show yet, but a lot of work is being done. The student union is really pushing this issue. It is about student health, which is very important to us.” To conclude With that, I thank Laura for her time, and she admits that this actually was her first proper interview (I would never have been able to tell), and we hurry to the auditorium, just in time for some fika with Blåslaget - KI’s student wind orchestra.

Ombudsmännen Nazira and Åsa Photo: Iris Peña Arriarán

Hope for the future I feel relieved that #metoo seems to be taken seriously by Karolinska Institutet, and that things will be improved. I also am grateful that there are students, such as Laura, who are actively involved in the decision making, to the benefit of all students at Karolinska Institutet. To sum it up, things seem to be on the move at Karolinska Institutet in response to #metoo. New guidelines and an incident reporting portal is a good start. However, much remains to be done. •

Laura Andersson Photo: Isabelle Wemar

Presidents’ Word


by Iris Peña Arriarán Laura Andersson Photo: Pontus Dannberg

This fall we have had the great joy of welcoming yet another horde of enthusiastic students. At the Welcome day with the following Infopub at MF, we had a great turnout with an increase of approximately 300 members in just the first few days! At the MF office we have also welcomed a few new co-workers; Åsa Samuelsson Ökmengil, the new “ombudsman” (official advocate) for PhD-Students and our new administrators Kicki Blom and Camilla Wiberg. Together with our new recruits we are continuing to do our best to ensure our members get the best introduction to student life they can get.

“One of our main goals has been to increase communication between the organs of MF.” As the year draws to a close, our board is working hard to finish the projects of the year. One of our main goals has been to increase communication between the organs of MF, something that we can clearly see when we look at the new collaborations taking place within the union. A few examples are the Photo: Isabelle Wemar

relaunch of our email newsletter Thalamus, aiming to keep all of our members informed of happenings, and the activities arranged by Mottagningsutskottet (MU), Programutskottet (PrU), Idrottsutskottet (IdrU), as well as the different clubs within MF during the month dedicated to welcoming new students. More collaborations are taking place activity-wise, for example the Halloween Party jointly arrangedby MU and PrU. We have also developed our relationship with other student unions not only within Sweden but also with our eastern neighbors. The Friendshipparty that was held between MF and Thorax (the Finnish medical association) on the 29th of September was a great success and will hopefully mark the beginning of a new yearly tradition held for active members of MF. The games held during the day were organised by IdrU, and we are very proud of the moxie and friendly competitiveness displayed by the MF-athletes against the Finnish invasion!

“We are very proud of the moxie and friendly competitiveness displayed by the MF-athletes against the Finnish invasion!” We are also happy to already be seeing some major changes regarding our union house and the project “Framtidens Kårhus”. The donations received for renovations have thus far contributed to beautiful new restrooms. Our ambition is to begin renovating the MF aula and we plan to start this renovation in the fall of 2019. It is of great importance to not lose

momentum and continue the work to ensure that the rest of the building is renovated in order for future students to enjoy a place they can call their own. If you are interested in becoming an active part of Framtidens Kårhus feel free to contact our project leader Anna Eklöf at

“It is of great importance to not lose momentum and continue the work to ensure that the rest of the building is renovated.” We have many wonderful activities during the fall. Very soon (as this is being written) the elections for our new Council will be held, and in November – the new board of MF will be elected! We are very excited to see which new members will be part of the central organs and the future of MF. The crown jewel is the grand Lucia Ball. It takes place on the 13th of December, where we hopefully will be accompanied by The Nobel Prize winners in Medicine or Physiology. It is the culmination of the year and an event that all students should try to attend at least once! We are at the moment witnessing – and actively trying to influence – the new organization emerging at KI. The future MF board will surely have many new challenges in 2019, but with the support of the current board, and all of our members, we are certain that the future of MF is bright.

Your President and Vice President, Iris and Laura 23

Photo: Isabelle Wemar


Introducing The Inspector - Carl Johan Sundberg by Lauren Lyne

Carl-Johan Sundberg, Prefect and Professor at The Department of Physiology and Pharmacology (FyFa) at Karolinska Insitutet (KI). Sundberg has for a long time had an extremely active role in medical education at KI, teaching at multiple programs, and for the last 7 years he has been known at Medicinska Föreningen (MF) as The Inspector. The position as Inspector was initially introduced to Swedish universities to keep track of rowdy students and maintain an “acceptable” moral. Today an Inspector’s responsibilities have evolved to become something quite different. “I’m not a police officer that monitors any single student, but when problems occur, such as conflicts within The Student Union or an incident at a party, I’m there to listen and moderate”, Sundberg explains. This, however, is only one aspect of being Inspector, he clarifies. “Except for being present during ceremonies, such as the Amphiox Gasque, and presenting medals, I maintain a dialog with the staff and the MF council covering questions concerning the future progress of MF.” Sundberg compares the position as inspector partially to that of an ambassador. “The Inspector is MF’s extended hand into KI, and I advise the students on KI related issues.”

“I maintain a dialog with the staff and the MF Council covering questions concerning the future progress of MF.” Great efforts are now being made to renovate and modernize the MF building, something that Sundberg has supported during his two periods as inspector. Sundberg describes a vision of MF where the MF building is a meeting point. “Let’s fix the house so that it becomes more functional and attractive, and by the way, we should develop the activities and make student life even richer,” Sundberg continues, and describes how the MF building has the potential to be a place where events can be held to facilitate the interaction between students, politicians,


decision-makers, industry and society at whole. The main motivation behind this he explains is “[...] to increase the awareness of students at KI that their future professions are very much dependent upon political decisions, to empower the students and give them a greater chance to influence.” When asked what he finds most rewarding with being Inspector his answer is “[...] to interact with students. I have always found it extremely fulfilling to educate, to give lectures and hold seminars. I have created many courses at the undergraduate level at KI and I have been involved with physiology education since 1983. I became a student in 1980 and during my medical studies I was a tutor for the younger students. Student interactions have been natural for me the whole way.”

Photo: Stefan Håkansson

Anna Eklöf, who now is project manager of “Framtidens Kårhus” and first became active within the student union 2007, has worked closely with Sundberg during his time as inspector. She describes Sundberg as “professional, enthusiastic and focused on solutions”, and adds ” he always sees the potential in others and is always happy to help. He has an extremely busy schedule, and I’m always as impressed that he still manages to be 100% focused when you meet him and work with him.”

“He has an extremely busy schedule, and I’m always impressed that he still manages to be 100% focused when you meet him and work with him.” Eklöf also highlights that it was Sundberg who initiated the project “Framtidens Kårhus”. She continues, “He is happy and full of energy, but of course can also be very serious. Actually, he is always serious. He always wants to learn something new. He is very curious. He is also extremely supportive. We are very lucky to have him as Inspector.” Carl-Johan Sundberg turns 60 this fall, and there is much that could be written about what he has accomplished in his 60 years, not least of which is all that he has done for the student union. •

Hi there students and scientists at KI! Have you identified a problem in healthcare? Do you have an idea that can solve it? At KI Innovations we support and guide students and scientists so that YOUR fantastic idea can contribute to a healthier future for us all. All of our services are free of charge.

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Developing those sustainable food habits by Ayla De Paepe and Theresa Mader

In our modern society, we have a huge selection of food from all around the globe. The selection of which foods to buy or where to eat is everyone’s choice. But we can still make a smart and sustainable choice, if we know where our food comes from or how to avoid plastic waste when eating out. “With an environmentally sustainable diet, we make an impact on natural resources and the global ecosystem.” Why should we go sustainable? The choice to move to a more vegetarian or vegan lifestyle might be for different reasons. Some like to choose a healthier lifestyle for themselves; some might feel an ethical resistance to eating animal sourced foods; some like to reduce their global environmental impact. A lot of scientific research indicates the health benefits of a rather plant-based diet. One of the strongest findings links the consumption of red and processed meat to a colorectal cancer risk increase of 18%. However, eating and selecting food isn’t only for our own well-being. With an environmentally sustainable diet, we can also make an impact on natural resources and the global ecosystem. The choices - from season to selection In Western countries, the selection of food in the supermarket is vast. We can choose from a wide selection of items, brought to us from countries all around the globe. It is undeniably great to cover

all our cravings and nutrients all year round. But to act more sustainably, it is worthwhile to re-evaluate our choices when food shopping: Is the product in season? A few vegetables and fruits are nearly always in season, but most are only for a few months every year. Thus, consulting a seasonal calendar before shopping helps to identify the seasonal products. Where does the product come from? Local products reduce the transport distance and CO2 emission immensely. In October, tomatoes, cabbages, and apples are still being freshly harvested in Sweden. Deciding on organic food? Reduced use of pesticides in organic agriculture not only lessens each individual’s exposure to them, but also lowers the contamination of drinking water. How is the product packaged? By bringing reusable bags to the store, the usage of plastic bags or plastic wrappings can be reduced .

“Consulting a seasonal calendar before shopping helps to idenfiy the seasonal products.” Good dining habits So what about eating out? We can hope that restaurants purchasing ingredients in

Photo: João Jesus/Pexels


bulk reduce individual packaging, but that becomes undone quickly if you plan to order take-away without bringing your own box! Same for the doggy bag. It’s great to take food home after a big meal out, so you save it from ending up in the bin. But is it worth seven plastic or styrofoam boxes? As for myself, I have the habit of carrying around a wooden spork (spoon-fork hybrid), chopsticks, a glass straw, and a reusable coffee cup on a daily basis. However, keep these in mind only when you’re up for a challenge. It’s probably easier to just eat in, and it’s even more fun if you can combine that sit-in coffee with some good company, instead of rushing around alone, with a single-use cup. Conquer the challenges eating abroad As for where to go, you’ll find that places like Indian restaurants are a lot easier to eat vegetarian without feeling left out than traditional Swedish places. In Mediterranean ones you might have to stick to starters to avoid meat and fish, and if you want to go full vegan, you could end up feeling like a rabbit. The free app “HappyCow” can be a great travel companion, collecting not only veggie-friendly restaurants, but also stores to shop. I also have a habit of just searching for “vegan” on Google Maps first thing when entering a new city. It works pretty much everywhere! Better late than never Last but not least, try to keep it positive! Feeling good every time you do a small thing differently is a lot more fun than feeling bad every time you don’t manage to avoid something. Forgot to bring your own lunch? Ended up buying veggies in seven layers of plastic? Didn’t refuse the straw? Ate a kiwi with more travel experience than you? That’s okay; celebrate the fact that you realised! Next time you feel like cooking you could try one of our recipes featured on the next page. They are a good start to show that vegetarian, and even vegan, recipes can come from all around the world and go hand-in-hand with full flavour. •


Creamy Wild Mushroom Gnocchi (Vegan) Cuisine: Italian Servings: 2

Ingredients · 6 onions · 2 tbsp oil · 1 tsp garlic · 250 g mixed mushrooms (portobello, chestnut, shiitake) · 500 g ready-made gnocchi · 125 ml white wine · 125 ml vegetable stock · handful baby spinach · 2 tbsp soya or oat cream

Instructions 1. Finely slice the onions and the garlic and fry them in the oil for for 2-3 minutes 2. Thickly slice the mushrooms, add to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until they have released their juices. Season well with salt and black pepper 3. Add the gnocchi, the white wine, and the vegetable stock. Turn the heat down to a medium simmer, cover with the lid and cook for 5 minutes 4. Stir in the roughly chopped spinach, followed by the soya cream

Photo: Magda Ehlers/Pexels

Pad Thai (Gluten-Free, Vegetarian) Cuisine: Thai Servings: 2

Ingredients • • • • • • • • • •

250 g dried rice noodles 4 tbsp. oil 4 cloves minced garlic 2 onions (diced) 4 pak choi 3 tbsp. vegetable stock (or white wine) 1-2 eggs (vegans can substitute 1/2 cup soft tofu) 250 g bean sprouts 2 green onions (sliced) 20 g peanuts

For Sauce • 3/4 tbsp. tamarind paste • 50 ml vegetable stock • 4 tbsp. soy sauce • 1 tsp. chili sauce • 2 tbsp. brown sugar

Instructions 1. Cook the rice noodles in boiling water for 4-6 minutes 2. Combine Pad Thai sauce ingredients in a cup 3. Slice the onions and the garlic and fry them in the oil in a large frying pan for 1 minute 4. Add pak choi, together with the vegetable stock (or white wine) and cook for 2 minutes 5. Push vegetables aside and add the egg (or tofu); fry briefly to scramble 6. Add the drained noodles and 1/3 of the sauce to the pan, and cook for 1-2 minutes (mix like tossing a salad) 7. Keep adding sauce and continue cooking for 3-6 more minutes 8. Switch off heat and add bean sprouts, green onion, and 3/4 of the nuts 9. Serve with remaining nuts and fresh coriander. Add wedges of fresh-cut lime on the side to be squeezed over just before eating

Photo: Pexels



The case against experimentalism by Emmanuel Zavalis

The term “fashion industry” has a myriad of different meanings. But as a whole, it is defined as a multi-billion dollar industry, which I myself divide into two subcategories: High fashion, the expensive sort, and worn fashion, the one seen day to day on ourselves, our friends, and our colleagues. The former is the one setting the trends for the latter in my experience, therefore, any matter regarding this industry should first be examined through the scope of high fashion. The trend discussed below is sustainability in high fashion. Photo: Ahmad Ardity/Pixabay

The definition of fashion There is a certain truth to the words of the once model-turned-actress Lauren Hutton: “Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose”. It’s telling of what the fashion industry work ethic looks like: A repetitive wall-flinging of design with the same hope that something will stick. Some argue that it’s also the creative projects behind it that make it what it is, and it’s indeed true; it’s a form of expression, a way of saying something silently. It’s a beautiful process of freedom of choice and expression - you have a plethora of articles to choose between.

“There is definitely a lot of talk about sustainable fashion, but very little pragmatic action.” Costly in more than one way When I look at a piece of fabric, I have started seeing water. I was reading up on the environmental effects this wide range of choices has, and ever since I just see floods behind a sweatshirt or a white tee. The fashion industry uses a lot of water to say the least, currently being the second biggest polluter, using enough water to annually fill 32 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. The powers that be are trying to save this situation, but they are way behind. Their focus is, amongst others, on switching from fossil fuels to other forms of energy. Gucci and Vans are struggling with recyclable packaging - which seems like the very least conglomerates like them should do. Gucci – especially –


should be able to afford recyclable packaging with the outrageous amounts they charge. Gucci seems especially prone to resort to symbolic gestures like environmentally-friendly glasses and biodegradable sandals this past decade, whilst just last year realizing that they should start going fur-free. Versace and Michael Kors have also gone fur-free recently, and finally Burberry has made a pioneering decision in ceasing to burn their unsold products. It seems like the established brands are way behind when it comes to sustainability, and if somebody was expecting them to save the earth, one would have to retry with another planet. Emerging pioneers New brands are looking more promising. For instance, Kitx, an Australian brand, is trying to find ways to be more sustainable by looking at old traditions. Examples include using Corozo nut for buttons, discarded fish nets for bodysuits, or pineapple pulp for viscose-like material. Another new brand that makes way in the sustainability race is Elliss. They only manufacture clothes that can’t be bought second hand, such as underwear and tanks, out of sustainable material. Finally, two noteworthy designers are Richard Malone, preaching practicality, and Marine Serre, saying “I don’t want to make a garment that you know is going to be thrown away in two years”. Creativity versus sustainability I understand Marine Serre talking about not wanting to make garments that are going to be thrown away in two years time and the question really is - why is she do-

ing it? Her clothes are experimental to say the least. Why is Richard Malone making eccentric clothing that is going to be out of trend in a couple of years and how are such designs ever going to be practical? There is definitely a lot of talk about sustainable fashion, but very little pragmatic action. You see the old established companies pretending that going fur-free started being a thing just now, and you see young designers in the game trying to experiment, whilst carrying the stamp of approval as environmental activists. The future Sustainability leaves little room for experimental fashion. The only leeway it allows for is timeless fashion, the so-called style that one chooses out of the plethora of designs offered. The question is whether this offering needs to be reduced. If seamsters and seamstresses have to start opening at every corner, and if we have to buy and keep clothes for several years, then good quality in garments has to first become the norm, and not a luxury. Will people of lower socioeconomic status still be able to afford this and could the mass production clothing companies, such H&M, Zara, and ASOS, survive this type of sustainability? There are a lot of questions pending that won’t be answered before the masses act on it. Overall this has left me facing a decision, where I have to make a choice based on my conscience, my sense of aesthetics, or my wallet. It is not ideal, but it is what it is. •

Green essentials for sustainable memories

by Yolanda Rao


Photo: Porapak Apichodilok/Pexels

The idea of embarking on environmentally-friendly travels has become a trending goal as we become more consciously aware of sustainability. However, the practicalities of this goal, while still being able to enjoy our well-deserved vacation, are difficult to manage. Then how exactly should we travel in style and in comfort, but still minimize our carbon footprints that trek across the globe? The following is a list of ideas that outline the steps to a successful, eco-friendly journey. Although not comprehensive, it aims to suggest some alternative options that travellers could try implementing into their itinerary to gradually make a collective difference. The green destination Selecting the destination is usually the first item on our planning list. However, we also often become unaware of wasting resources, such as indulging in a bathtub-full of hot water, during our wellpampered stay. Thus, consider travelling to destinations that advocate for environmentalism and could benefit from supportive tourists. In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, for example, a wildlife orphanage rehabilitates abandoned and injured animals that were previously in captivity, and is open to educating volunteers about nature conservation. Your volunteering visit also includes housing in cabins and nutritious meals that truly expose you to the great outdoors, while minimizing unnecessary energy consumption.

“It then becomes a habit to pack numerous outfits tailored for every photo and climate, as well as discard all unfinished bottles of hygiene products at the airport to ensure clearing security.” The efficient packing Being on the road also implies the need to travel in style and in comfort. However, it then becomes a habit to pack numerous outfits tailored for every photo and climate, as well as discard all unfinished bottles of hygiene products at the airport to ensure clearing security. Therefore, try packing clothing and shoes that are both light and durable, as well as aesthetic!

Conscious Clothing, started off by a couple in Rockford, Michigan, took off from a design studio that was itself built from partly salvaged materials. The manufacturing crew creates the handmade clothing using low impact dyes and ink, as well as biodegradable and organically-grown materials. For the tired feet, a Canadian company, Matt and Nat, based in Montreal, Quebec, manufactures vegan shoewear and advocates for fair trade. Each year, the company experiments with innovative designs by avoiding all leather or any other animal-based materials by resorting to recycled nylons, cardboard, rubber, and cork. In fact, even the lining of their shoes are made of 100% recycled plastic bottles! Herbivore Botanicals, a collection of 100% vegan skin care products made in a Seattle couple’s kitchen, uses natural ingredients from plant-based to food-grade cold-pressed oils. Convenient for disposal, their products are bottled in recyclable glass packaged from biodegradable materials. The mindful tourist Your to-do list is packed with itinerary, but remember to stay enviro-mindful during the activities that you pursue. If you like sampling local drinks, then consider visiting eco-friendly wineries. During the winter, the Yealands Family Wine in Marlborough, New Zealand, has their workers bale their vine prunings to be burned for energy in two specially installed burners. Each bale provides heat equivalent to 60 kg and their burners at full capacity produce enough energy to keep the average Kiwi household warm for three weeks. In

the vineyard all year round, flocks of Babydoll sheep act as grazing lawnmowers, providing natural fertilizer for the flourishing grapes.

“By deciding to embark on this mindful journey, we not only set the landscape of environmental responsibility, but also create sustainable memories of a lifetime.” A greener perspective So although starting off with small, simple changes may initially feel burdensome, developing these healthy, green habits will eventually become natural. The individual actions of each traveller may also seem futile against some of the less sustainable practices of mass commercial tourism, but collectively, will bring awareness and make an impact. By deciding to embark on this mindful journey, we not only set the landscape of environmental responsibility, but also create sustainable memories of a lifetime. •

Photo: Porapak Apichodilok/Pexels



Illustration: Makyzz/Freepik

KI Library Solna



THE NOBEL PRIZE AWARD CEREMONIES Stockholm, Sweden The Nobel Ceremony takes place in Stockhom where His Majesty the King of Sweden awards the Laureates with a medal and a diploma.The evening continues with a banquet for over 1 300 invited guests in the Stockholm City Hall.



MF LUCIA BALL MF, Nobels väg 10, Solna



CHRISTMAS EVE In Sweden, the Christmas festivities are centered around Christmas Eve. A typical Swedish celebration includes baked ham, glögg, saffron buns , and of course Disney’s “Kalle Ankas julafton”.





MF INFOPUB MF, Nobels väg 10, Solna



MF, Nobels väg 10, Solna



KI GRADUATION AFTERPARTY Celebrate a memorable day with KI’s freshly graduated students at one of the largest parties of the semester. An unforgettable night of fun is guaranteed!

THE AMPHIOXGASQUE MF, Nobels väg 10, Solna



Want to get a more thorough introduction to Medicor? Our kickoff meeting is open to everyone who are interested in how we create our magazine and have managed to establish ourselves as one of the largest student magazines in Sweden. Mingle with us, pitch your article ideas and grab some fika!




by Irina Polishchuk

Welcome the New Year of 2019 in the beautiful city of Stockhom. The pitch black night, sleepless city lights and breath-taking fireworks will inspire and energize you for new beginnings.




Why not take the opportunity to come join us at Medicor?

MF, Nobels väg 10, Solna

Not only is December 13th the day of Saint Lucia, widely celebrated in Sweden, it is also the day Karolinska Institutet was founded by King Karl XIII in 1810, which Medicinska Föreningen celebrates with a white tie event and a traditional Lucia performance. If you are lucky, you might catch a Nobel laureate mingling.


Not fond of holidays? Hold out for “Mellandagsrean” , the huge shopping discount period in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

MF’s biannual Infopub is your chance to join the committee you always wanted to join, get introduced to the new associations and find out about the latest events at MF.

Medicor will host a Coffe Hour in the library in celebration of the release of our new issue – come join us! You can collect a fresh copy of the magazine and enjoy a wide range of festive fika.

Enjoy a traditional Swedish university dinner with delicious food, new acquaintances and an endless amount of dancing at the afterparty. The aim of this event is to warmly welcome the newly admitted students to the university.


Clown Town Folly and fools. The best of friends. Horror and the unsettling. The best of entertainment. Do you ever feel like a clown? All dressed up with a smile painted on your face, calculated and posed. Clowns give us that sicklysweet feeling; another secret to be revealed under that shiny candy wrapper. You might be surprised what you can learn about those around you, if you look a little closer. •

Alien Abduction The portrayal of the extraterrestrial in popular culture is often an anthropomorphic squid with long teeth and thick, drooping saliva. We are excited by the idea of life forms existing beyond our planet and even more thrilled by malicious flying squids that seem to have a hint of humanity. Will aliens dissect us? Humans are definitely dissecting aliens. • by Lauren Lyne




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