Gunilla Karlsson Hedestam, PhD

Professor / Karolinska Institutet

Karolinska Institutet Biomedicum, C7
1 71 77 Stockholm

Gunilla Karlsson Hedestam is a professor of vaccine immunology in the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology.


Professor Karlsson Hedestam has been a member of the Nobel Assembly since 2016 and is a member of the Nobel Committee for physiology of medicine, 2019-2021. Her research focuses on the adaptive immune system – a central question in her research is how inherited variations in the genes that encode antibodies influence our ability to combat infections, stimulate effective immune responses through vaccination or conversely, react against the immune system.

Training and Education

  • 1994-1998
    Postdoctoral Fellowship, Virology and Immunology, Harvard University Medical School
  • 1993-1994
    Postdoctoral Fellowship, Biochemistry and Virology, University of Oxford
  • 1993
    PhD, Biochemistry and Virology, University of Oxford
  • 1990
    BSc, Biochemistry, Uppsala University

Research Interests

Research interests of her scientific group cover immunogenetics, B cell repertoire analysis and studies of B cell function. They work across species with a focus on human, macaque and mouse B cell biology. Professor Hedestam’s group combines Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) of bulk B cell repertoires with monoclonal antibody (Ab) isolation to investigate the evolution of antibody responses induced by vaccination.

In 2016, they developed a computational tool, IgDiscover, which identifies, at an individualized level, germline IGHV and IGHJ alleles from expressed repertoires of humans and non-human species. Their application of IgDiscover has revealed many alleles not represented in current public databases and a high level of allelic diversity in immunoglobulin genes between individuals for both humans and macaques, which is of fundamental importance for vaccine research in these outbred species.