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Henrik Grönberg

Henrik Grönberg


Department and organisational affiliation:

About me

I earned my medical and doctoral degree at Umeå University in 1985 and 1995, respectively. In 2001, I was was appointed professor of oncology at Umeå University and in 2005 professor of cancer epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. I am also a board certified medical oncologist since 1994 and worked at the Oncology Clinic at Umeå University Hospital between 1989 and 2005. At Umeå University Hospital I was also responsible for the cancer genetic clinic, including genetic counselling and mutation screening. My main research area is prostate cancer genetics and I have authored approximately 200 peer-reviewed articles in international scientific journals. I was part of localising the first two prostate cancer susceptibility loci in 1996 and 1998, and identifying several new prostate cancer susceptibility loci in 2006 to 2012. I am currently the PI of the large randomized clinical trial (STHLM3) in Stockholm including over 260 000 men, aimed at evaluating new prostate cancer diagnostic tests. I also have an ongoing research program using prostate cancer tumours, trying to develop tissue-based prognostic tests using next generation sequencing.

I served as chair of the study section of cancer epidemiology at the Swedish Cancer Society between 2002 and 2009. I was the Swedish representative at the WHO agency IARC (International Agency of Cancer Research) in Lyon between 2008 and 2011. I was the chairman of the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska Institutet between 2008 and 2013. This department is one of the largest departments of epidemiology and biostatistics in Europe, with over 270 employees.

I served as Karolinska Institutet’s Acting Pro-Vice-Chancellor from March-December 2016.

Current positions

  • Professor in cancer epidemiology, KI

Research description

My research is focused on identifying new markers both for the risk of getting prostate cancer and for the prognosis of prostate cancer once diagnosed. There are three main tracks in my research today:

1. Identification and clinical implementation of new biomarkers in prostate cancer.

For 15 years, my research has been focused on identifying inherited genetic variations (SNPs) that are associated with prostate cancer. Our research group has together with an international consortium, PRACTICAL, identified a majority of the currently known 70 SNPs that are associated with prostate cancer. Moreover, we have a program to identify new biomarkers (proteins) in the blood. In these studies we try to both find markers that identify prostate cancer and more importantly, find those associated with the aggressive form of prostate cancer.

During 2010-2012, we included about 26,000 men in the STHLM2-study (see below) where we systematically validated both old and new biomarkers. As a logical continuation of this project, in the autumn of 2012 we started a large randomized clinical trial of diagnostics, STHLM3 (see below) where we compare PSA with a combination panel based on other biomarkers (both genetic and proteins).

2. Characterization of prostate tumors using large-scale sequencing

In this project (ICAP, Integrated Analysis of Prostate Cancer) we analyze prostate tumors using "next generation sequencing". We work closely with the pathology department at Karolinska Hospital where there is a biobank with at least 1,000 fresh frozen prostate tumors collected since 2001. Today, we have analyzed 50 tumors with whole genome sequencing and RNA sequencing. We have identified a number of genes in which somatic mutations and variation that are significantly overrepresented and some are also associated with bad prognosis. We now continue with the analysis of approximately 250 additional tumors. In parallel, we evaluate the possibility of using circulating tumor DNA in plasma as an individualized biomarker for prostate cancer. These analyzes are done at the Science for Life Laboratory in Stockholm. In the future, we see an opportunity to use large-scale genomic analysis to tailor therapy for prostate cancer.

3. Clinical Sequencing of Cancer in Sweden (ClinSeq)

Within the ClinSeq project, we are developing new diagnostic tests for cancer using "next generation sequencing" (NGS), combining DNA and RNA tumor sequencing.

1) Liquid biopsy: From an ordinary blood sample, we use advanced methods to extract small bits of DNA (ctDNA) originating from a patient's tumor. We are developing liquid biopsy analysis for men with metastatic prostate cancer in the ProBio project, which began in 2016.

2) Prostate cancer tumors: Using the diagnostic biopsies taken from the prostate gland, we extract DNA and RNA. We are now developing a prognostic test to help doctors recommend treatment for patients.

3) ALASCCA study: ALASCCA, which began in 2016, is a large national randomized multicenter study of 3900 patients with colon and rectal cancer. Tumors will be analyzed within the ClinSeq project. The PI for the project is Professor Anna Marting.

Henrik Grönberg's research was judged by the ERA-evaluation in 2011 as "outstanding".

Research projects

Five selected publications

Cumulative association of five genetic variants with prostate cancer. Zheng SL, Sun J, Wiklund F, Smith S, Stattin P, Li G, et al N. Engl. J. Med. 2008 Feb;358(9):910-9

Identification of a new prostate cancer susceptibility locus on chromosome 8q24. Yeager M, Chatterjee N, Ciampa J, Jacobs KB, Gonzalez-Bosquet J, Hayes RB, et al Nat. Genet. 2009 Oct;41(10):1055-7

Prostate cancer screening in men aged 50-69 years (STHLM3): a prospective population-based diagnostic study. Grönberg H, Adolfsson J, Aly M, Nordström T, Wiklund P, Brandberg Y, et al Lancet Oncol. 2015 Dec;16(16):1667-76

Exome sequencing of prostate cancer supports the hypothesis of independent tumour origins. Lindberg J, Klevebring D, Liu W, Neiman M, Xu J, Wiklund P, et al Eur. Urol. 2013 Feb;63(2):347-53

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing is prevalent and increasing in Stockholm County, Sweden, Despite no recommendations for PSA screening: results from a population-based study, 2003-2011. Nordström T, Aly M, Clements MS, Weibull CE, Adolfsson J, Grönberg H Eur. Urol. 2013 Mar;63(3):419-25


  • 1987 M.D. Medicine, Umeå University, Sweden, 1994 specialist in oncology
  • 1995 Ph.D. Oncology, Umeå University, Sweden
  • 1996-1997 Post Doc Urology, Johns Hopkins University, USA
  • 2002 professor of oncology, Umeå University, Sweden

Academic honours, awards and prizes

The Fernström Prize for outstanding young scientist at Umeå University 2000.

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