Bergström, Sune Karl (1916-2004) was a Swedish biochemist who made important discoveries about prostaglandins—hormonelike substances I found in the prostate gland and seminal vesicles.
In the 1930's, scientists involved with artificial insemination noted that seminal fluid stimulated contraction and subsequent relaxation in the smooth muscle of the uterus. Using sheep seminal fluid, Bergström and his research assistants, who included Bengt Ingemar Samuelsson were able to identify six prostaglandins and determine how they were formed. Bergström also established the composition of two prostaglandins, called PGE and PGF. For their findings, Bergstrom and Samuelsson, along with John Robert Vane from the United Kingdom, shared the 1982 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.
Prostaglandins have a number of medical benefits, including treating circulatorv problems and regulating fertility. Bergstrom's work with prostaglandins led him to become active in issues involving family planning and nutrition, especially in developing nations.From 1977 to 1982, he held the post of chairman of the World Health Organization's Advisory Committee on Medical Research.
Following high school, Bergstrom worked as a research assistant at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. In 1938, he spent a year at the University of London as a research fellow. Two years later, he received a Swedish-American fellowship, which allowed him to study at Columbia University in New York City and to conduct research at the Squibb Institute for Medical Research in New Jersey. In 1942, he returned to Sweden. In 1943, Bergstrom married Maj Gernandt.
Bergstrom went on to earn doctorate degrees in biochemistry and medicine from the Karolinska Institute. In 1944, he accepted a position as assistant in the biochemistry department at Karonlinska's Medical Nobel Institute. Three years later, he was named professor of physiology chemistry at the University of Lund. In 1958, he was appointed professor of chemistry at Karolinska, where from 1963 to 1966, he served as dean of the medical school. Bergstrom died in Sweden in 2004.