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Hans Forssberg is professor in neuroscience and consultant in neuropaediatrics. He performs research in global health on children with neurodevelopmental disorders in low and middle income countries.

Hans Forssberg

Professor, senior

Hans Forssberg is professor in neuroscience and consultant in neuropaediatrics. He performs research in global health on children with neurodevelopmental disorders in low and middle income countries.

About me

Since my PhD in 1979 I have led a research group at Karolinska Institutet (KI) at the same time as I trained myself, and then worked as a neuropaediatrician at Karolinska Hospital (KS). I was head of the Children's hospital at KS 1993 and professor at KI 1995. I have had several management assignments at KI; among other things as vice president, dean, director of the Stockholm Brain Institute and director of the Strategic Research Program in Neuroscience. Was responsible for the functional program when planning Astrid Lindgren's Children's Hospital and responsible for the early planning of research and education at New Karolinska Hospital. I have been board member of Karolinska University Hospital, KIAB, KIND, and CMM. Have held several international assignments as chairman of the European Academy of Childhood Disability, was founder and first president of the International Alliance of Academies of Childhood Disabilities, and chairman of UNICEF's expert group for early detection and intervention of children with developmental disabilities. Member of the Nobel Assembly at KI 2005-2016, and assignments at the Brain Foundation, the Children's House Foundation Freemason, Sunnerdahl Handicap Fund and the Sällskapet Barnavård.

Research description

Previously, I conducted translational research on children with neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy, ADHD, autism spectrum, and language disorders as well as on the development of preterm born infants. By studying animal models, we could describe how different risk factors affected the early development of the brain (for example the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract) and how active learning and training could improve brain functions (for example, dopamine-induced neuronal plasticity). At the same time, we conducted clinical examinations with brain imaging (such as PET and MRI), genetic analyses and functional examinations to understand underlying disease mechanisms, and to see how active learning and training could alter brain function and thereby also improve impaired motor and cognitive functions. The aim was to develop new treatment methods for children with different developmental disorders with neuroscience research. The research group has also delivered a series of new interventions and measuring tools that are now used worldwide. In recent years, I have gradually changed the focus to children with developmental disorders living in low and middle income countries, which make up more than 80% of all children. In these countries, disability constitutes a stigma and the children are neglected and discriminated against. One of the problems in most countries is that there are no epidemiologic statistics; therefore, we are now carrying out a number of population-based studies to determine the prevalence of different neurodevelopmental disorders. Another problem is that the inadequate resources available are used on old and ineffective methods; we therefore develop and evaluate new, efficient, low-cost interventions that can be used in areas where there are no trained professionals. I also participate in a UNICEF / WHO project aiming at developing systems approach for early detection and intervention of children with developmental disorders that can be used to develop national programmes in low and middle income countries.

Education

MD 1975 at the University of Gothenburg. Doctoral dissertation in 1979 with the thesis "On integrative motor functions in the cat's spinal cord." Became Docent in 1982. Specialist degree in paediatrics (1987), child neurology and paediatric rehabilitation (1990).

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