International Collaboration on University Safety – the start-up

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

London in late February is a pleasant change from a cold and grey Stockholm. Although the skies were also grey, London had a distinct springfeeling with flowering camellias and the lawns of Kensington park coloured violet by masses of crocuses.

As fitting for an attendee of a safety meeting, I was woken up by the fire alarm, OO-EE-OO-EE-OO-EE-OO! In a daze, I grabbed my boots, jacket and handbag, and also my glasses, without which I cannot see properly, and ran out into the corridor where I met the other guests, like me wide-eyed, in their pajamas and morning coiffures. Fortunately for everyone, it was a false alarm. Burnt bacon had generated smoke that caused the alarm to go off in the kitchen and we could return to our rooms.

I had come to London in order to network with experts in the field of laboratory safety. Imperial College, with its impressing campus in south Kensington in central London, was hosting a meeting titled “Safety: the Human Perspective” and professionals from the USA, The Netherlands and the UK had gathered for seminars on various safety aspects in university settings. The Chancellor of UCLA was there to present their work conducted in the wake of the fatal chemistry accident in 2008, as well as the Rector Magnificus of the University of Delft who described a devastating fire that very same year. Seminars ranged from reports and analyses of real accidents to behavioural psychology , how to prevent accidents and how to promote safe workplaces.

In the late afternoon, I met with representatives from Imperial College, University of Delft and UCLA to discuss future collaboration. We discussed common challenges, made a list of priorities and a plan of coming activities and even came up with a short and descriptive name for the newly started venture -“International Collaboration on University Safety”.

The next day, me and a colleague from the University of Delft, joined a laboratory safety inspection in one the laboratories at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Imperial College, followed by a general tour of the laboratory buildings. The recognition factor is high in laboratories all over the world. This was no exception. The same types of flasks & beakers, pipettes and equipment, even the furniture were familiar, as well as the smell of agar plates. It was nice to see that laboratory safety was considered a serious matter by everyone, including faculty, and I had a very good impression of the safety culture at Imperial College. I got a few good ideas for improvement of laboratory safety that are easy to implement by just looking around.

After a long day I headed back to Heathrow and Stockholm with tired feet and an inspired mind full of new impressions.


A New Joint Capacity Building Project

EduShare project kick-off ceremony

EduShare project kick-off ceremony

The official kick-off ceremony for EduShare, a new project on joint capacity building in biomedical higher education co-financed by the Erasmus+ programme, was held at Hue University on Monday, and I was invited to attend. The kick-off was held at Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy, in a lecture hall so beautifully decorated with amazing flower arrangements*. Professor Cao Ngoc Thanh, Rector of Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy, was the host of the event and he held a very engaging and supporting introductory speech.

I was happily surprised to find two colleagues from Karolinska Institutet taking part in the project, which aims to “assist Vietnamese universities providing higher education and training to future healthcare professionals who contribute to improving the health of the local people” (according to the programme coordinators at Tartu University, Estonia). Of course there was also time to meet and network with new acquaintances from all the participating countries.


* I must admit that I am very fond of flowers and gardens, so this is a perfect desination for that as well…

Accommodation in Paris

Finding accommodation during an Erasmus exchange period in Paris can be very difficult, as there is a lack of student dorms and other kinds of accommodation. Normally, it is also quite expensive.

La Cité International Universitaire de Paris, located nearby a big park in the southern parts of central Paris, offers rooms for incoming international students at a reasonable price. There are several houses where you can apply for accommodation, and normally the house is accommodated both by students from the country of the house as well as other international students. Maison des Étudiants Suédois is one of the houses that offers accommodation to Swedish and other international students.

Both KI students and the staff at our universities recommend prospective exchange students to apply for accommodation through La Cité.

Cite Universitaire. Photo: David Bertho, CCBY2.0

Cite Universitaire. Photo: David Bertho, CCBY2.0

Université Pierre et Marie Curie

The study programme in Medicine at KI has three partner universities in Paris. As they are all situated quite near each other, I also popped by the offices of my colleagues while being in the city.

UPMC Main campus

Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) is located close to the metro station Jussieu. You will find the Bureau des Relations Internationales in the tallest building right in the centre of the main campus. The Faculty of Medicine is located just a short walk away, located in the large Hôpital Universitaire La Pitié Salpétrière.

Medical students that carry out Erasmus exchange period at UPMC normally carry out their exchange studies through one or two stages (internship), at the hospital where they stay minimum 2 months per stage.

A student’s city

Besides the excellent opportunities to practice and improve your French as well as study medicine in another environment, there are also so many things to do and see in Paris. No wonder Paris is a popular destination for our students.


I met three KI students that are currently doing an Erasmus+ exchange at Université Paris Diderot. After a few confusions in the beginning of their exchange they all settled in well, and now with only a few weeks left of the exchange they are all astonished how fast time has run. Two of them would even like to stay longer, which I think is a good receipt of a well-performed exchange… They have experienced both similarities and differences in the health care and education systems in Stockholm and Paris, and the exchange has prepared them for their future work as medical doctors.


If anyone wants to encourage students to do an exchange in Paris, be advised though that good skills in the French language is necessary. This is something that both the students and the staff that I met pointed out. Even though the academic and administrative staff as well as fellow students speak English, the patients normally don’t and it is a must to be able to communicate with them. A level B2 according to the CEFR scale is highly recommended.

Visiting Paris

La tour Eiffel
Bonjour! Today my staff exchange in Paris begins! I am very excited about this trip, where I will visit our partners with whom we have exchanged so many students during the past ten years.

I work as an international coordinator for the study programme in Medicine (among other programmes). We have signed Erasmus agreements with three partner universities in Paris. My main host works at Université Paris Diderot, but I plan on also visiting our partners at Université Pierre et Marie Curie and Université Paris Descartes while being in the city.

My main reasons for applying to the staff exchange programme was to get a deeper insight into how the exchange programme is managed at our partner universities, to meet colleagues in France and I hope to inspire more French students to apply for an exchange study period at KI. I also believe I will bring back new ideas on how to work with the Erasmus programme at home. Additionally, personal meetings with colleagues at home or abroad are invaluable when it comes to collaboration.

”Ich bin ein rabenmutter”

Onsdag 3/12. Efter en härlig mumsig frukost på vårt pittoreska hotell tog vi en morgonpromenad de dryga 3 km till Dkfz. Väl framme möter Celina oss i receptionen och tar oss på en campus promenad.

DKFZ är det största biomedicinska forskningsinstitutet i Tyskland och är medlem av Helmholtz Association of National Research Centers. Med över 90 divisioner och forskargrupper, och 3000 anställda, varav mer än 1000 är forskare. Forskarna undersöker mekanismerna av cancer och  målet är att identifiera riskfaktorer för cancer och försöka hitta strategier för att förhindra cancer uppkomst . På Campus området finns också Heidelbergs Universitet med mer än 30 000 studenter.

Campus_skylt CampusUnivHeidelberg

Efter rundturen har vi ett möte med Dr Karin Greulich-Bode, som arbetar med jämnställdhets frågor på Dkfz. Hon berättar bla om det Mentorskapsprogram, som riktas mot kvinnliga forskare på motsvarande forskarassisten nivå. I Tyskland är det fortfarande mycket vanligt att kvinnan är hemma med sina barn de första 3 åren. När barnet sedan börjar på förskolan är det mycket få som erbjuder heltidsomsorg, och det är mycket vanligt att mammorna arbetar deltid. Vi får höra talas om begreppet ”Rabenmutter”, som många arbetande kvinnor får höra. ”Rabenmutter” är en nedsättande term för en mamma som försummat sina barn. Termen används särskilt för arbetande kvinnor som påstås ge otillräcklig omsorg till sina barn.


Under lunchrasten tar vi oss en friskvårdstimme och ger oss ut på en löparrunda med Barbara, Wolfgang och forskaren Mile. Tina och Mile drar upp tempot i uppförsbackarna upp på bergen kring Heidelberg. Vi andra halkar lite efter, men har ett behagligt prattempo. Tina berättar senare på kvällen att Mile är en ”Ironman” och har genomfört hela 24 tävlingar!! Inte undra på Ironman and Ironwoman höll ett helt annat tempo 🙂

På em hinner vi möten med Dkfz doktorandförening, postdoc association och med Celina.Till kvällen blir det middag på en trevlig restaurang i gamla stan tillsammans med tyska, franska, engelska och svenska karriärrådgivare, Sarah Blakford, Alysia Vandenberg, Bérénice Kimpe, Barbara Jenssen, Celina Cziepluch, Tina Persson och Anethe Mansén. Ytterligare en fantastisk dag är till ända.