The Cultural Brain Initiative

The Cultural Brain Initiative  is an initiative at Karolinska Institutet which highlights international cutting edge research, focusing on the translational relationship between culture, the brain, teaching and health. This intitiative is aimed at interested researchers, leaders and representatives from political and business backgrounds, and the general public.

Within the framework of this intitiative is a combined lecture series/ PhD student course, where international speakers are invited to talk to and meet the students, as well as interested members of the public who wish to attend. Forthcoming lectures in the Culture and Brain series can be found advertised on this website, which also features the latest research developments.

The initiative is based at Karolinska Institutet, and is supported by our partners Stockholm City Council (Stockholms läns landsting) and Statens musikverk.

Centre Director: Professor Gunnar Bjursell

Gunnar Bjursell is a Professor Emeritus, and his research has focused on the importance of genetics in public health, cancer and arteriosclerosis. While at Gothebergs University, Gunnar coordinated and lead the Culture and Health initiative. During the last fifteen years has been actively involved in the further development of the research field culture, the brain, and health. Since 2021 he has been Director for the Centre for Culture, Cognition and Health at Karolinska Institutet.

Tel: 0706-993745

Project Leader: Professor Ingemar Ernberg

Ingemar Ernberg is a Professor in Tumour Biology at Karolinska Institutet. His research focuses on the roll of viruses in cancer, and he has been very active in popularising modern Bioscience and has written several popular science books on the subject. His is currently chairman of the KI Cultural Council (Kulturrådet)

Tel: 08-524 862 62


Researcher: Professor Fredrik Ullén

Fredrik Ullén is a Director of the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt, and Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet. His research focuses on the neuropsychology of expertise and creativity, i.e. the various brain mechanisms that allow us to perform at a very high level within a specific field, using music as a model domain. Methodologically his team combines neuroimaging with experimental psychology and behavior genetic analyses. He is currently heading a larger research programme, Humans Making Music, that involves collaborations with the Swedish Twin Registry and other research groups both within and outside Sweden.

In addition to his career as a scientist, Professor Ullén is active as a professional pianist. He has performed as a soloist in leading festivals and concert venues in most European countries, Canada, and the US. He is represented on more than 20 CD records, many of which have received outstanding critics and awards from the international press. Professor Ullén is a lifetime fellow of the Swedish Royal Academy of Music since 2007.


Webmaster: John Sennett

John Sennett has been the centre’s webmaster since 2019, with many years experience of working with WordPress and Drupal systems at Karolinska Institutet, including Linux and MySQL administration. He has also studied at Stockholm University and has a Master of Arts (M.A) in Musicology.