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Gustav Stålhammar new research group leader for ocular oncology and pathology research 

12 March 2021

At the turn of the year, Consultant and Associate Professor Gustav Stålhammar was assigned as research group leader for the ocular oncology and pathology research group at St. Erik Eye Hospital and the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet. He shares the leadership of the research group, called Stålhammar/Seregard, with Professor Stefan Seregard.

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Consultant, Associate Professor and Research Group Leader Gustav Stålhammar.

What kind of research do you perform?

"We do research on different types of eye cancers. The most common malignant tumour in adults is malignant melanoma, and in children retinoblastoma," says Gustav Stålhammar.

What is the goal?

"To extend our knowledge about these aggressive diseases, and to improve diagnostic procedures and patient survival rates."

Why is it important to do research in this area?

"A fairly large proportion of patients with ocular malignant melanoma, so-called uveal melanoma, develop metastases and die from their disease. Additionally, uveal melanoma is more or less the only tumour disease that we have not been able to improve survival rates on in the last fifty years. The need for progress is enormous – and we have an opportunity to contribute to this progress."

What projects are currently underway?

"We have several exciting ongoing projects. For example, we are developing tests that accurately can predict whether the patient will develop metastases or not, based on ordinary blood samples. Additionally, we are planning a large clinical study to test whether we can prevent the development of metastatic uveal melanoma. If we succeed, it could save many lives!"

What is your ambition as a research group leader?

"To lead and support our researchers, to give them their own space to grow and develop with their own ideas, and to create a peaceful workspace for our important work."

What are the challenges?

"There are many researchers competing for few available financial grants. Research is also enjoined by many regulatory obstacles that the researcher must overcome. Running projects like this at the same time as working as a consultant also means constantly moving around puzzle pieces to make sure there is enough time. It is about keeping your eyes on the prize and patiently trudging on. Then we can finally make a real difference for our patients."