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) 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 vital parameters to develop rapid semiautomatic Newborn 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

President, PhD student’s association, KI                                                                   1996

Member of the board, Faculty Board, KI                                                                    1996–1997

4-year Junior Research position (Forskar-assistent), Swedish Research council      2002

Karolinska Institutet “Promising young Researcher” award                                        2003

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

3-year Senior Clinical Research position, Wallenberg foundation award                   2008

Head, Perinatology course Medical Students, Karolinska Institutet                           2009-

Vice President Junior Faculty, Karolinska Institutet                                                     2009–2010

6-year Senior Clinical Research position, Swedish Research council (VR)                2010

ERA 2010 KI-Evaluation of my research team: Excellent                                            2011

Affiliated Faculty, SciLifeLab, Karolinska Institutet                                                       2011-2014

Head KI Paediatric resident recruitment Karolinska University Hospital                      2012-

Head Perinatology PhD-course, Karolinska Institutet                                                   2013-

Head Committee National Guidelines against SUPC, LÖF                                          2015-

Head NEWS- Newborn Early Warning Signs KI-KTH-SLL collaboration                      2016-

Head KI research Paediatric Emergency at the Karolinska University Hospital           2017-