Cover photo for Ulf Lennart Karlsson MD, PhD,'s Obituary
Ulf Lennart Karlsson MD, PhD, Profile Photo
1935 Dr. Karlsson 2023

Ulf Lennart Karlsson MD, PhD,

September 11, 1935 — November 30, 2023

Pine Knoll Shores

Ulf Lennart Karlsson MD, PhD, renowned radiation oncologist and educator, passed away on November 30th, 2023 at the age of 88. Born in Uppsala, Sweden on September 11, 1935, Dr. Karlsson dedicated his life's work to advancing cancer care through research, clinical practice, and teaching.

After earning his medical degree and PhD in Neuroanatomy in Sweden including a research appointment in California, Dr. Karlsson moved to the United States in 1969 to join the faculty at the University of Iowa. He went on to hold professorships and chairmanships at numerous esteemed universities and medical centers over his prolific career, including UCLA, University of Iowa, Hahnemann University in Philadelphia, the University of New Mexico, and East Carolina University.

Beyond his academic appointments, Dr. Karlsson practiced radiation oncology for over 30 years while simultaneously training new generations of physicians. He published extensively with over 130 papers and book chapters focused on improving radiotherapy techniques and patient outcomes. Even after his 2004 retirement from East Carolina University, Dr. Karlsson continued to serve cancer patients across the country through locum tenens assignments.

Dr. Karlsson's brilliance in the lab and clinic was matched by his wit, kindness, and loving spirit. He was a creative & talented artist in drawing, painting and photography and a master tennis player and pickleball enthusiast. He was a pioneer, adventurer, car enthusiast, traveler, intellectual, activist, a friend of many, an American, a seaman, an Amigo, a goofy guy, a news expert, a fighter, and loved by many. He especially loved animals developing special relationships with cats and birds in his life. Gardening and all of nature was the basis of his philosophy of life. He spent his final years on the North Carolina’s Crystal Coast with his wife, Ilene Biller-Karlsson, and is survived by his brothers Anders and Goran, and his five children Bjorn of Madison, WI, Leif and Ulf of Stockholm, Sweden, Anna of Boise, Idaho, Erik, currently of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as well as 6 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.

Words used to describe Ulf by his family, friends, and colleagues are loved, admired, respected, kind, gentle, loving, loyal, special, warm, smart, a close friend, a good soul, handsome, nice, curious,funny, solid, warm, good with kids, encouraging, supportive, and polite.

Ulf will be deeply missed by all who knew him. Dr. Karlsson leaves behind an incredible legacy as an innovator in his field, a dedicated teacher, and beloved family man. His contributions to oncology and innumerable patients’ lives will not be forgotten.

Memorial services will be held at later dates in Pine Knoll Shores, NC and in Stockholm, Sweden.

As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society OR The Nature Conservancy.

Family and friends are welcome to submit online condolences at

Arrangements by Munden Funeral Home & Crematory in Morehead City, NC.

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