Hans Lennernäs prioritises patient benefits over likes


On Hans Lennernäs’ desk is a christmas greeting, signed by a German patient expressing his gratitude for the cortisol replacement Plenadren, ”The best Christmas gift I ever got”. Despite our time’s frenzy for digital recognition, the card will never reach social media. But chances are it will inspire future pharmaceutical progress.

Hans Lennernäs, Professor in Biopharmacy
Hans Lennernäs, Professor in Biopharmacy, Uppsala University (left)

Show me your LinkedIn profile and I’ll tell you who you are. In a time where it is customary to expose our lives and deeds for public scrutiny, a surprise awaits anyone who clicks his way to Hans Lennernäs’ curriculum vitae. Admittedly, we learn that he around the turn of the millennium accepted the professorship in Biopharmacy at Uppsala University. But after that: Nothing. On the other hand, most people with any interest in Swedish research noticed who received the Hjärnäpplet Innovation Prize a few years ago. So maybe he just forgot to update?

“To be honest, I hardly remember why I created that account. And an award is of course nice to get and might even put a quality stamp on our work in calls. Beyond that, I can’t see who it’s relevant to. Personally, I find inspiration in the opportunity to contribute to improved therapies. And when patients tell me that my work has helped them in life... well, that’s why we do what we do.”

A little more than forty years have passed since Hans Lennernäs first arrived at Uppsala University. By then, his journey from childhood locality Bollnäs had already stopped in Gothenburg where he immediately located the nearest bandy arena. He found Åby skating rink, by coincidence located within walking distance from Hässle AB. Here, at the pharmaceutical company that, among other things, created Losec, young Hans did his high school internship, after which the career compass has consistently pointed towards the Faculty of Pharmacy.

“Among our faculty’s advantages is it’s close proximity to Uppsala’s clinical environments. In one of our earliest works, carried out in collaboration with, among others, the University of Michigan, the opportunity to conduct clinical studies at the Uppsala University Hospital was a key success factor. It resulted in the Biopharmaceutics Classification System that is currently used by the WHO and regulatory authorities worldwide. I am not saying that our region has it all, but if we lack something, we just initiate collaborations where we find it.”

Hans LennernäsAn early and important research partner was his brother, Bo, also receiver of a doctorate at Uppsala University and equally convinced of the essentiality of turning innovative ideas into products of benefit to patients. Together with colleagues in Uppsala and Gothenburg, they laid the foundation for the drug Abstral, providing healthcare a much needed tool against breakthrough pain. With the successes, the assignments grew, and in 2012 IMI announced that they had appointed Hans Lennernäs as Managing Entity for OrBiTo, the European consortium where academia and industry united to develop models for better prediction of delivery and uptake of oral drugs.

“Six interesting years followed, which showed me how much IMI projects actually generate. We developed solutions of great value to numerous projects, while also contributing future competence via the PhD students who received their research training in the consortium. For sure, IMI projects are also complicated, expensive and caused a temporary drop in my publishing flow, still OrBiTo is an experience I do not want undone.”

Despite any slowdowns: A search on Hans Lennernäs in the Web of science generates impressive findings. With more than 300 publications and 18,000 citations, he also occupies a prominent position on Stanford University’s ranking of individual research achievements. His accomplishments has enabled both new drugs and improved treatments, and when German Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung announced the 2022 recipients of their prestigious Research Award ”to researchers whose results have had lasting significance”, Hans earned his place in the highly exclusive assembly of Swedish researchers to have, so far, received this recognition.

“The award comes with a grant to finance a project in collaboration with a German research environment and, together with a group at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, we are analysing substances that can contribute to reduced side effects during chemotherapy treatment against cancer. This is resource demanding work, but with generous funding and great commitment, we have good prospects to succeed.”

According to Humboldt’s statutes, the laureate’s scientific catalog must convey expectations of continued significant research. And even though this particular award will likely never find its way to LinkedIn, it indicates that Hans Lennernäs is right in his optimism. Still, on one point we must correct him: It is extremely relevant. For all of us!


  • Hans Lennernäs' research in Translational drug development has a pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic focus on improving medical therapies (translating innovation for delivery to patients).
  • The performance of pharmaceutical products is optimized using various experimental models and clinical studies together with theoretical modeling and simulation.
  • This is conducted within the following main research areas:
  • New and innovative tumor treatments: Mechanisms of intestinal injury by cancer drugs and new therapies
  • Gastrointestinal absorption of drugs and new formulations



Hans Lennernäs, Professor
Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences


Text: Magnus Alsne, foto: Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, Mikael Wallerstedt

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Last modified: 2022-11-08