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Anna Rising

Anna Rising


About me

I have always been interested in animals and medicine, so for me it was a natural choice to study Veterinary Medicine at SLU.

After working as a veterinarian a few years, I decided to get a PhD and joined an EU project, which aimed at producing artificial spider silk for medical applications. The project started with me going on an “adventure trip” to South Africa to collect 100 spiders in the wild. Since then, I am fascinated by this impressive material, and the spiders that produce it.

In 2007 I received my PhD, and soon after we started the company Spiber Technologies AB to commercialise our research findings. I was CEO from 2008 to 2012. In 2011-2017 I worked as an Assistant Professor at Karolinska Institutet, where I still work part time, and  as an Extension Specialist/Senior Lecturer in Translational Medicine at SLU. Since 2018 I am professor of veterinay medical biochemistry at SLU.

Photo: Kerstin Nordling

Research and area of expertise

My research area and area of expertise include translational medicine, regenerative medicine, molecular biotechnology and medical biochemistry.

We can artificially synthesize spider silk fibers that have the same strength as tendons, are biocompatible and degrade as new tissue is formed in the body. The material has the potential to be used in a range of medical fields. We focus on regenerative medicine (tissue repair), mainly cultivation of stem cells, which is a relatively new area of research. The ultimate goal is to be able to replace or restore damaged organs and structures.

Photo: Andersson, Jia et al. Nature Chemical Biology 2017

In another project we study a specific part, NT, of the spider silk protein, which increases the solubility of the spider silk proteins when they are stored in the spider’s silk glands. The solubility enhancing properties of NT apply also when NT is fused to other proteins with low solubility. Therefore, we use NT to produce drugs, which today are difficult or impossible to manufacture.

NT also accelerates the formation of spider silk fibres in the passage of the spider silk gland, a property that we study and use in innovative projects in biotechnology.

Photo: Andersson, Jia et al. Nature Chemical Biology 2017

Current research

My research has several main focuses:

1.  To make artificial spider silk replicas

2. To use spider silk to regenerate damaged tissue and to be able to culture stem cells under defined conditions

3. to use Nature’s own solubility increasing domain (NT) to develop poorly soluble proteins (drugs).

4. To develop novel lung surfactant preparations for the treatment of various lung conditions and as a vehicle for drug delivery to the lungs.

Photo: Andersson, Jia et al. Nature Chemical Biology 2017

Research problems

Can we spin artificial spider silk fibers with the same mechanical properties as the natural spider silk fiber?

Can artificially produced spider silk be used as implants to replace damaged tissues and organs?

Can NT be used for the production of valuable and aggregation prone proteins with low solubility?

Can Lung surfactant be used as a drug delivery vehicle and can we make surfactant preparations that are more resistant to inhibition?

Film 1. Artificial spiderweb is made when a proteinKonstgjord spindeltråd som bildas när en proteinlösning sprutas ut i en buffrad vattenlösning. Publicerad av: Anna Rising & Jan Johansson (Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet & Karolinska Institutet). Källa: Andersson, Biomimetic spinning of artificial spider silk from a chimeric minispidroin, Nature Chemical Biology, 

Film 2. Konstgjord spindeltråd rullas upp på en roterande ram i luften. Publicerad av: Anna Rising & Jan Johansson (Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet & Karolinska Institutet). Källa: Andersson, Biomimetic spinning of artificial spider silk from a chimeric minispidroin, Nature Chemical Biology, 


Photo: Andersson, Jia et al. Nature Chemical Biology 2017

My research colleagues

I share my time between the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and Karolinska Institutet (KI).

SLU: Nathalie Gonska, Sumalata Sonavane

KI: Olga Shilkova, Tina Arndt, Medoune Sarr, Sameer Hassan, Urmimala Chatterjee, Juanita Francis, Benjamin Schmuck, Fredrik Bäcklund, Nina Schiller


We work in close collaboration with Jan Johansson (KI) for protein biochemistry realted questions, and with:

Kristaps Jaudzems (LiOS, Riga), NMR spectroscopy

Michael Landreh (KI), Mass spectrometry

Mattias Sköld (KI), regenerative medicin, regeneration of nerve tissue

Hans Hebert (KI),  Elektronmicroscopy

Lena Holm (SLU), histology

Vadim Kessler (SLU), Atomic Force Microscopy AFM

José Perez Riguero (UPM, Spanien), Mechanical testing of fibers, fiber spinning

Nicola Pugno, Gabriele Greco (Trento U, Italien), Native spider silk, mechanical testing of fibers


Spider silk has long been used in folk medicine. I aim to use spider silk in the treatment of diseases and injuries, for which there is no or poor treatment options available due to the lack of suitable materials. I also work to facilitate production of protein-based drugs together with a pharmaceutical company.

By close collaborations with national and international partners in industry and at universities, my research will benefit society at large.

Our research has been on public display at exhibitions at Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Arbetets Museum in Norrköping, Skansen Aquarium (Skansen-Akvariet), Sweden, the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, and Paris Natural History Museum, 2011-2012.

Photo: Marlene Andersson


I teach on the programme in Veterinary Medicine at SLU

Other professional activities

Founder, Spiber Technologies AB

Senior Researcher, Karolinska Institutet

Current Funding

Europeiska forskningsrådet (ERC) Consolidator grant



CIMED (Stockholms Läns Landsting, Huddinge Kommun, Karolinska Institutet)

SFO Regenerative Medicine (Karolinska Institutet)

Excellensbidrag from the Vice Chancellor (SLU)

For details and past funding please check my ORCID, link can be found below


Read more

TV4 Nyhetsmorgon. Interview. Sep 15, 2017.är-du-nya-spindelmannen-3934570

BBC. Interview. Sep 2017.

RadioScience. Podcast. 2016.

Spinning like a spider. Academia Net. Interview Sep 11, 2017.

Silk gland mimic spins strong fibres. Nature. 541, 137. Jan 12, 2017. doi:10.1038/541137b


Selected Publications
Otikovs M, Andersson M, Jia Q, Nordling K, Meng Q, Andreas LB, Pintacuda G, Johansson J, Rising A, Jaudzems K. Degree of biomimicry of artificial spider silk spinning assessed by NMR spectroscopy. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2017. Oct 2; 56(41):12571-12575.

Andersson, M., Jia, Q., Abella, A., Lee, X-Y., Landreh, M., Purhonen, P., Hebert, H., Tenje, M., Robinson, C. V., Meng, Q., Plaza, G.R., Johansson, J., Rising, A. Biomimetic spinning of artificial spider silk from a chimeric minispidroin. Nat Chem Biol. 2017 Mar;13(3):262-264

Kronqvist N, Sarr M, Lindqvist A, Nordling K, Otikovs M, Venturi L, Pioselli B, Purhonen P, Landreh M, Sjöberg L, Robinson CV, Pelizzi N, Jörnvall H, Hebert H, Jaudzems K, Curstedt T, Rising A, Johansson J. Efficient protein production inspired by how spiders make silk. Nat Commun. 2017 May 23;8:15504

Kronqvist, N., Otikovs, M., Chmyrov, V., Chen, G., Andersson M., Nordling, K., Landreh, M., Sarr, M., Jörnvall, H, Wennmalm, S., Widengren, J., Meng, Q., Rising, A., Otzen, D.,  Knight, S. D., Jaudzems, K., Johansson, J.  Sequential pH-driven dimerization and stabilization of the N-terminal domain enables rapid spider silk formation Nat Comm. 2014. DOI:10.1038/ncomms4254

Andersson M, Chen G, Otikovs M, Landreh M, Nordling K, Kronqvist N, Westermark P, Jörnvall H, Knight S, Ridderstråle Y, Holm L, Meng Q, Jaudzems K, Chesler M, Johansson J, Rising A. Carbonic Anhydrase Generates CO2 and H+ That Drive Spider Silk Formation Via Opposite Effects on the Terminal Domains. PLoS Biol. 2014 Aug 5;12(8):e1001921

Wu S, Johansson J, Damdimopoulou P, Shahsavani M, Falk A, Hovatta O,Rising A. Spider silk for xeno-free long-term self-renewal and differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells. Biomaterials. 2014 Oct;35(30):8496-502.

Lewicka, M., Hermanson, O., Rising, A. Recombinant spider silk matrices for neural stem cell cultures. Biomaterials, 2012. 33(31):7712-7717

Askarieh, G., Hedhammar, M., Nordling, K., Saenz, A., Casals, C., Rising, A., Johansson J., Knight S.D. Self-assembly of spider silk proteins is controlled by a pH-sensitive relay. Nature. 2010, 465:236-239.

Professor at the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (AFB); Division of Anatomy and Physiology
Telephone: +4618672114, +46709744888
Postal address:
Institutionen för anatomi, fysiologi och biokemi
Box 7011
Visiting address: VHC Huvudentré, Ulls väg 26, hus 5, plan 4, Uppsala

Publications list: