Mikael Altun

Dr Med. Sci., Karolinska Institute



Research Gate

Mikael Altun, Dr Med. Sci. is internationally recognized for his basic and translational research in the cellular cleaning and signaling machinery called the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS). A functional UPS is crucial: it keeps the body healthy by making sure that unnecessary proteins in the cells get cleaned, and by facilitating important processes such as repairing the DNA. In short, Dr Altun investigates how this housekeeping machinery should ideally function and how it actually works in sick people.


He is currently a senior researcher and group leader at Karolinska Institutet, as well as a faculty member at the Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab) – a major hub in Sweden’s national bioscience infrastructure. His ongoing research focuses on the complex role of UPS: when it functions well, it enables basic cellular functions; when it malfunctions it can trigger diseases, ranging from muscle atrophies to cancer.


Because UPS can be so versatile Dr Altun is now exploring how UPS could be “hijacked” to direct proteins for destruction in “sick” cells, with the help of molecules. This could lead to novel therapeutic strategies for people diagnosed with cancer. Using this approach, we can hopefully unlock what has been seen as the “undruggable” proteome (i.e. all proteins in the cell) and create a better strategy to combat diseases that are resistant to other therapeutic options.


Dr. Altun started his training at Karolinska Institute and during his medical studies and a year at Harvard Medical School found his passion for science and got his Master’s in medical science. He conducted his doctoral training in three universities, Karolinska Institutet, Harvard Medical School and University of Oxford. After graduation he completed two postdoctoral training programs, one at Karolinska Institute within cancer biology with Prof. M.G. Masucci, and the second at the University of Oxford in chemical biology with Prof. B.M. Kessler, before he set up his research group at the Karolinska Institute.  

Find out more about Dr Altun’s team and research focus here.