About me

Professor of Tissue Biology.

Name and Date of Birth: Patrik Ernfors 641121

Citizenship: Swedish

Research description

Research interests

Nervous system development and stem cell biology

Read more about my research.

Publications; 122 original publications, 20 review articles and book chapters, 6 patents.

Selected publications

  1. Ernfors, P., Lee, K-F., Jaenisch, R. (1994). Mice lacking BDNF develops with sensory deficits. Nature 368, 147-150.
  2. Ernfors, P., Lee, K-F., Jaenisch, R. (1994). Lack of neurotrophin-3 leads to deficiencies in the peripheral nervous system and loss of limb proprioceptive afferents. Cell 77, 503-512.
  3. Ernfors , Van De Water, T., Loring, J. Jaenisch, R. (1995). Complementary roles for BDNF and NT-3 in vestibular and auditory development. Neuron, 14, 1153-1164.
  4. Liu, X., Ernfors, P., Wu, H., and Jaenisch, R. (1995). Sensory but not motor neuron deficits in mice lacking NT4 and BDNF. Nature 375, 238-240.
  5. Ernfors, P. Duan, M. L., ElShamy, W. M. and Canlon, B.(1996). Protection of auditory neurons from aminoglycoside toxicity by neurotrophin-3. Nature Medicine 2, 463-467.
  6. ElShamy, W. and Ernfors, P. (1996). A local action of NT-3 prevents the cell death of proliferating sensory precursor neurons. Neuron 16, 963-972.
  7. Ernfors, P. and Canlon, B. (1996). Aminoglycoside excitement silences hearing. News and Views, Nature Medicine 2, 1313-1314.
  8. Ringstedt, T., Linnarsson, S., Wagner, J., Lendahl, U., Kokaia, Z., Arenas, E., Ernfors, P. and Ibanez, C. (1998). BDNF regulates Reelin expression and Cajal-Retzius cell development in the cerebral cortex. Neuron 21, 305-315.
  9. ElShamy W.M., Klevenvall Fridvall, L., and Ernfors, P. (1998). Growth arrest failure, G1-restriction point override, and S-phase death of sensory precursor cells in the absence of neurotrophin-3. Neuron 21, 1003-1015.
  10. Naveilhan, P., Hassani, H., Ekstrand, J.A., Larefalk, Å., Chhajlani, V., Geddan K., Svensson, L., Thoren, P. and Ernfors P. (1999). Normal feeding behaviour, body weight and leptin response requires the Y2 neuropeptide Y receptor, Nature Medicine, 5, 1188-1194.
  11. Naveilhan, P., Hassani, H., Lucas, H., and Ernfors, P (2001). Reduced antinociception and plasma extravasation in mice lacking a neuropeptide Y receptor. Nature, 409, 513-517.
  12. Lucas, G., Hendolin, P., Harkany, T., Agerman, K., Paratcha, G., Holmgren, C., Zilberter, Y., Sairanen, M., Minichiello EL., Castren, E., Ernfors , P (2003). Neurotrophin-4 mediated TrkB activation reinforces morphine-induced analgesia. Nature Neuroscience 6, 221 - 222.
  13. Marmigere, F., Montelius, A., Wegner, M., Groner, Y., Ernfors, P. (2006). The Runx1/AML1 transcription factor selectively regulates development and survival of the TrkA nociceptive sensory neurons. Nature Neuroscience 9(2):180-187.
  14. Marmigere, F and Ernfors, P. (2007). Specification and connectivity of neuronal subtypes in the sensory lineage. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 8, 114-127.15. Andäng, M., Hjerling-Leffler, J., Moliner, Annalena., Pozas, E., Nanous, E., Castelo-Branco, G., Halliez, S., Koltzenburg, M., Bryja, V., Charnay, P., El Manira, A., Ibanez, C.F. and Ernfors, P. (2008). A histone H2AX-dependent GABAAR controlled regulation of stem cell proliferation. Nature 451(7177), 460-464.


Supervision of Ph.D. theses (Primary Supervisor, Secondary Supervisor)

  1. Wael M. Elshamy, Egypt. Developmental requirements of neurotrophins in the mammalian nervous system PhD 1998-09-16. Main supervisor.
  2. Sten Linnarsson, Sweden. Neurotrophic factors and neuronal plasticity. PhD 2001-02-09. Main supervisor.
  3. Åsa Mikaels, Sweden. Expression and function of GDNF family ligands and receptors in the nervous system. PhD 2001-09-14. Main supervisor.
  4. Hessameh Hassani, Sweden. Characterisation of NPY receptors Y1, Y2 and Y5 expression and function in vivo. PhD 2003-12-16. Main supervisor.
  5. Karin Agerman, Sweden. Specificity of neurotrophins in the nervous system- A genetic approach to determine receptor engagement by neurotrophins. PhD 2004-01-23. Main supervisor.
  6. Jens Hjerling-Leffler, Sweden. Sensory Neurons: Stem cells and Development. PhD 2006-03-10. Main Supervisor.
  7. Andreas Montelius, Sweden. Role of transcription factors in sensory neuron specification. PhD 2007-03-02. Main supervisor.
  8. Paul Berhuis, Holland. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and endocannabinoid functions in GABAergic interneuron development. PhD. 2007-03-09. Co-supervisor.
  9. Jorge Aquino, Argentina. Neural Crest; In development and repair. PhD. 2007-11-09. Main supervisor.
  10. Anna Stenqvist. Neurotrophic factors in peripheral nervous system development: Function and specificity. PhD 2008-02-22. Main supervisor.
  11. Kalle Lundgren. Rewiring Ret: PRB-adaptor regulated signaling and cell biology. PhD 2008-02-22. Main supervisor


Main Current Research Grant Sources

Swedish Research Council Medicin, Swedish Brainfoundation, EU biotech, Linne center DBRM, Cancerfoundation, Childhood cancerfoundation, Swedish Research Council, research environment grant, ERC advanced grant.


  • Pregraduate student. January 1986-August 1986. The Midwest Photosynthesis Research Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.
  • Graduation Uppsala University, 1987
  • Graduate student. August 1987-May 1991. The laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institute, Stockhom, Sweden.
  • Dr. in Medical Sciences (PhD). 1991. Supervisor Håkan Persson, The laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institute, Stockhom, Sweden.

Academic honours, awards and prizes

Professional Experience (major appointments)

  • Assistant Professor. May 1991-May 1992. The laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Post-doctoral fellow. June 1992-November 1994. Rudolf Jaenisch laboratory, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, USA (Rörlig forskarassistenttjänst, MFR). Docent 1994. Karolinska Institute. Associate Professor (Docent med särskild forskartjänst, MFR). November 1994-1997. Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institute, Stockhom, Sweden.
  • First room for the Professorial Chair in Developmental Biology 1997, Stockholm University.
  • Head of the Unit of Molecular Neurobiology 1997-present. Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institute. The unit consists of 4 principal investigators, 35 scientists.
  • Professor of Molecular Neurobiology, Karolinska Institute, 1999-2000.
  • Present employment: Professor of Tissue Biology, Karolinska Institute, 2000-present.
  • Head of the Scheele animal house. 1999-2007. Karolinska Institute.
  • Vice Head of Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics (2006).
  • Head of Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics (2007).


Scientific Recognition, Activities in the Scientific Community and Entrepreneurship

  • Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Flormanska Prize for my PhD thesis "The nerve growth factor family of neurotrophic factors". 1991.
  • "Support to the young and promising scientists" ("stöd till yngre och lovande forskare"). Swedish Medical Research Council (MFR). 1994-1997.
  • Fernström prize for young and promising scientists in Medicine, year 2000.
  • Goran Gustafsson prize in Medicine, year 2000.
  • "Best Brains of the Brain Decade" Ranked #20 in the world by impact in Neuroscience during the brain decade by ISI (http://www.sciencewatch.com/jan-feb2001/sw_jan-feb2001_page2.htm).
  • Anders Jahres Medical research award to young scientists, year 2004.
  • Kemali Prize 2006. Fifth Prize of the Dargut and Milena Kemali Foundation for the Neurosciences.
  • EU expert in the Biotechnology program, 4th and 5th framework. Member of the board of evaluators Swedish Medical Research Council 2004-present. Head of Scheele animal house, KI. Head of Division of Molecular Neurobiology, MBB, KI. Vice Head of Department, 2006. Scientific advisory board member (SAB), London Pain Consortium (2001).
  • Founder, Chief scientific officer and member of the board of directors, Global Genomics AB, 2001-2004, merged with Genizon BioSciences 2005.
  • Collaboration with AstraZeneca since 1997.