Ann Hellström


“Professor Hellström received her MD in 1986 and her PhD in 1997; she became a specialist in ophthalmology in 2004. Since 2004 she is a full Professor of Pediatric Ophthalmology at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.
Professor Hellström is a leading researcher within the field of experimental ophthalmology and her scientific achievements have attracted worldwide attention. For example, she pioneered the concept that low levels of the growth factor IGF-I can cause blindness in preterm infants. Furthermore, her research group has developed a web based screening tool for the prediction of retinopathy (WINROP), resulting in less stressful examinations for these patients. This tool is now being used routinely in clinical practice worldwide. Professor Hellström is the recipient of several national and international prizes and awards: In 1997 she received an award from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation for “promising female researcher”, and in 2012 she was awarded the Athena Prize – Sweden’s most prestigious prize for clinical research.
In her clinical role, Professor Hellström is a consultant physician in pediatric ophthalmology at the Sahlgrenska University hospital. She also heads the Sahlgrenska Center for Pediatric Ophthalmology Research at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology at the University of Gothenburg, which is a strategic research centre focused on vascular and neural development research. Under Professor Hellström’s leadership, the Center has integrated basic research with clinical research and is today a translational center in which clinical issues and biomedical expertise meet and create new ways of studying the mechanisms behind disease, which may lead to new treatments. With Professor Hellström as the leading researcher, the Center has now taken one drug from “bench to bedside”; the concept of treating preterm infants with IGF-I was taken over by Shire in 2013 that has finalised a Phase II multicentre study, and are now planning a phase IIb study with chronic respiratory failure as primary outcome. The center is at present conducting a randomised clinical trial with fatty acid supplement (AA:DHA) to preterm infants. Her research group has developed a computerized program to predict proliferative disease by monitoring weekly biomarkers, reducing stressful screening examinations in 25-50% of the preterm infants (Löfqvist et al Archives of Ophthalmology 2006). The article rendered an editorial “Screening for Retinopathy of Prematurity- The Promise of New Approaches. The algorithm has now been further developed (web based) and is now being used in clinical practice worldwide. Lately, the research group of Prof Hellström has started to develop a digital e-health solution with the aim to minimize blindness worldwide in preterm born children.

DigiROP – a mobile-health platform for reducing visual impairment and blindness in preterm infants