04 June 2024

Ahmed Elserafy spends his days researching skin and stem cells and how they can be used in the treatment of burns and wounds that do not heal properly. Over the last few years, he has also devoted many evenings to sharing his knowledge through a popular science book – in Arabic.


Headshot of a man in a clinical reserch lab.
Ahmed Elserafy develop cell-based treatments for patients with hard-to-heal wounds.Anna Nilsen


“I’ll never forget the patient who was almost convinced that he would lose his foot, but who with our treatment was able to keep it and walk again. Or the patient who couldn’t swim for two years because of his skin wounds and, after treatment, was able to swim again. Seeing the significance of our research for patients is very valuable in a way that can’t be translated into money or fame,” says Ahmed Elserafy.

Research about treatment of chronic wounds.
Transplantation of skin cells for treatment of chronic wounds.Ulrik Svedin


He is a doctor who early in his career became interested in stem cells. Today he works at the Burn Centre (Brännskadecentrum) and the R&D Unit for Skin and Cultured Cells at Linköping University Hospital. There, researchers work closely with healthcare personnel to develop safe and effective cell-based treatments for patients with hard-to-heal wounds. These are chronic wounds or burns, which either cannot heal naturally or have not been helped by conventional treatments, such as wound dressing or surgeries.

“Stem cells have great potential in treatment. The challenge now is to control this potential in a way that will benefit the patient and won’t cause side effects.”

Unscrupulous medical practices are a problem

Ahmed Elserafy is not content with just helping people in his work. He has spent much of his free time in the last three years writing a book about stem cells – in Arabic. One of the reasons for this is that over the years he has been contacted by many people seeking treatment for themselves, their children, their wife or husband.

“In some places, stem cell treatments are offered that aren’t based on clinical protocols. Patients pay large sums of money to receive these treatments. And, since they haven’t been studied properly, the treatments aren’t effective. This leads to the perception that stem cell treatment is a scam. So partly there’s a lack of knowledge, and partly there are doctors exploiting the patients' ignorance to make money.”

In 125 pages, Ahmed Elserafy has therefore wanted to write in a popular science style about what stem cells are, how they work and how far research has come in the relatively new area of regenerative medicine. The book has been written in Arabic because, among other things, there is not much information in Arabic about stem cells that is aimed at non-experts.

“It’s part of my role as a researcher”

Since publication of the book, Ahmed Elserafy has been contacted by several colleagues wondering if he can translate it into other languages, because they believe it could also be helpful for students. He is considering translating it into English.

A man using a microscope in a lab.
He is a doctor who early in his career became interested in the potential of stem cells. Anna Nilsen


“I’d really like to translate the book into Swedish too, if I can get help with it.”

The book is in PDF format and can be downloaded free of charge via DiVA, the digital scientific archive, where universities, university colleges and research-conducting public authorities make publications available to all.

“I can see that people can benefit from the knowledge if it’s simplified and made available to them. I think that it’s a duty of anyone who works at a university to help and serve society – this is part of my role as a researcher.”

Come into the lab

Karin Söderlund Leifler and Anna Nilsen

Research that changes lives

It's inspiring to witness how research can make a meaningful impact on people, especially those affected by conditions like burns. Ahmed Elserafy finds purpose in his work by seeing the difference research can make. You can hear more about his engagement in the video.

Subtitles available in English and Swedish.

Want to know more about the research?


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