Eric Herlenius


Inspiration, development of autonomic control, the transition at birth & how novel deep machine learning of vital parameter data better the diagnostics and treatment of newborn and adult patients

Om mig

Eric Herlenius studied medicine at Karolinska Institutet where he also defended his PhD thesis in developmental neuroscience 1998. He subsequently joined Profs Iku Homma and Evan Snyder for postdoc at Showa University, Tokyo and Children’s Hospital, Harvard medical school, Boston respectively, to study activity dependent development and plasticity of functional neural networks. He then specialized in Pediatrics and continued investigations regarding perinatal development of autonomic control. He is a Physician-scientist focused on translational medicine, combining basic mechanistic and patient research to develop novel methods to screen, detect and protect against inflammation related breathing disorders.

Nuvarande Position och Uppdrag

  • Professor i Pediatrik, Karolinska Institutet
  • Överläkare i barnmedicin, Astrid Lindgrens barnsjukhus
  • Vice Ordf. Vetenskapsrådet beredningsgrupp MH-07: Kvinnor och Barns Hälsa
  • KI ansvarig Rekrytering ST-Pediatrik, Karolinska Universitets sjukhuset 2012-
  • FoUU-ansvarig vid Barnakut- och infektionssjukvård, Tema Barn- och Kvinnosjukvård, Karolinska universitetssjukhuset


Immature respiratory control in infants born may result in apneas, sudden unexpected postnatal collapse (SUPC), secondary hypoxic brain damage, and SIDS. We have shown that prostaglandins are central pathogenic factors in respiratory disorders and the hypoxic response. This has led us to focus on the role of inflammation and brainstem modulation in both clinical and mechanistic studies. These are used to define mechanisms for factors disturbing the physiological and neural pathways that control breathing. Main goals are:

1) Develop better clinical guidelines and best practices to prevent sudden cardiorespiratory failure in newborns, Sudden Unexpected Postnatal Collapse (SUPC).

2) Deep-NEWS! To clinically characterize how dysregulation of respiratory control induces life-threatening events and if subtle alterations in cardiorespiratory parameters may act as early warning scores for infection, inflammation and a need for therapeutic intervention. We use Deep Machine Learning based analysis of individual patients real time vital parameters to develop rapid semiautomatic Novel Early Warning Systems.

3) To define the pathophysiological mechanism of apneas and involvement of inflammation in the development and activity of brainstem respiration-related neural circuits. In vivo and novel in vitro experimental mouse models and single cell transcriptomics and patch-seq techniques are used.

By complimenting a thorough understanding of the ways in which inflammation impacts breathing and understanding cues that precede respiratory failure, we will enable earlier and novel therapeutic interventions before life-threatening events occur.

Akademiska priser och utmärkelser


1996            President, PhD student association, Karolinska Institutet (KI)  

1996-1997  Member of the Faculty Board, KI

2003           Karolinska Institutet “Promising young Researcher” award

2005-2015 Member of the board Pediatric Div & Dept Women & Child Health KS & KI

2009-          Head, Perinatology course Medical Students, KI

2009-2010  Vice President Junior Faculty, KI

2011-2014   Affiliated Faculty, SciLifeLab, KI

2012-2021  Head KI Pediatric resident recruitment Karolinska University Hospital

2015-          Head Committee National Guidelines against SUPC, LÖF

2016-          Head DeepNEWS - Deep learning Novel Early Warning System KI-K-KTH

2018-2022  Member of evaluation committee, VR

2021-2022  Vice Chair evaluation committee Children & Women’s Health (MH-07) VR

2023-2026  Member of the Nomination Assembly Karolinska Institutet