Via the research themes below you can find an overview of research projects with participation from researchers at the Section of Epidemiology


Our environment plays a key role in determining survival, health and wellbeing throughout the life course.
Early life, starting at conception, is a vulnerable period of life during which our environment can have immediate and lifelong adverse and beneficial effects. Harmful environmental exposures such as air pollution contributes to adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes, mortality, diseases and disabilities in early years and shapes health and resilience to unhealthy environmental exposures later in life.

Our research group is conducting epidemiological research, mainly focused on the lifelong health effects of environmental exposures in early life. Additionally, we study how environmental exposures during pregnancy influence maternal health.

Environmental exposures do not occur in isolation. Different environmental exposures can interact with each other and with other determinants of health such as social and lifestyle factors. Geographical variation and variation over time, as well as potential differential effects depending on the timing of the exposure, further challenge epidemiological studies of health effects of environmental exposures in early life.

Our research group works with unique datasets and benefits from ability to access and link comprehensive environmental exposure data with longitudinal birth cohort and registry data in Denmark. Our goal is to improve epidemiological studies of complex environmental exposures through the development and application of biomarkers of exposures and advanced modelling of environmental exposures that take into account variation over space and time. We aim to provide useful information needed for risk assessment and for implementation of cost-effective preventive actions aimed at reducing harmful environmental exposures and promoting beneficial exposures.

Research group leader: 
Marie Pedersen
Associate Professor

Phone: +45 60 15 55 45






Our increased life-expectancy and protracted disease trajectories cause profound upheaval from an individual and a societal perspective. Above age 65, the great majority of the population suffer multiple morbidities and polypharmacy is the rule. Age is the most important single risk factor of diseases such as diabetes, cancer and dementia, but it is too often ignored as the underlying causal mechanism and largely understudied.

The vision of the Center for Healthy Aging is to better understand the aging process, to interfere in the biomolecular process, and to prevent and delay the occurrence of morbidity. The mission is to bring together excellent researchers with complementary expertise who develop new methods to generate high-throughput computer-assisted analyses of exceptional datasets that go beyond traditional reductionist approaches. The purpose is to enable people to live healthier life for longer.

Our interdisciplinary research adheres to these key principles and makes use of three complementary sources of knowledge:

  • There is no institution in the world that has acquired so much information on citizens as Statistics Denmark, and we will systematically trace individuals over time to identify key events during the life course that result in different patterns of aging and pathology;
  • The Register of Pathology holds tissue samples and accompanying data for one third of the Danish population, and we will use machine based learning to dissect the complex relationship between morphology of cells and their biological behavior that cannot be detected with standard pathological examination;
  • The Centre for Healthy Aging is at the forefront of identifying causal cellular mechanisms, and we will perform an in-depth investigation of the dynamic behavior of nuclei and mitochondria in human samples in response to external and internal perturbations.

We have put in place a durable and flexible systems-wide-strategy, i.e. that will open up unique opportunities to explore the data sources mentioned above. We will apply classic epidemiologic tools, and develop new, to study the long-term biological, behavioral, and psychosocial processes that link physical or social exposures acting early in life with disease risk late in life.

Group leader:

Professor Rudi Westendorp

Scientific Coordinator:

Dr Sasmita Kusumastuti



Main area of research have been various aspects of obesity, genetic and environmental causes, life course development, changes in occurrence over time, emergence of the obesity epidemic, psychosocial and metabolic health consequences, morbidity and mortality including relations to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancers.

Current main interest is development of a theory about causes and consequences of obesity. A new area of interest is the theory and methods about generating clinical epidemiologically valid evidence for ‘personalized medicine’.

PI: Professor emeritus Thorkild IA Sørensen



Formålet med Projekt Metropolit er at undersøge sammenhænge mellem forhold i barndommen og helbred i voksenlivet. Det overordnede formål er at bidrage til forebyggelsen af nogle af de store folkesygdomme (for eks. hjertekarsygdomme, diabetes, depression og demens).

Projekt Metropolit blev startet i 1965 af en gruppe forskere under ledelse af professor Kaare Svalastoga ved Sociologisk Institut, Københavns Universitet. Formålet var at undersøge sammenhænge mellem social baggrund og karriere blandt unge mænd. Deltagerne blev valgt blandt alle drenge født i Storkøbenhavn i 1953, i alt 12.270 drenge.

I 1966 deltog drengene i skolens standard regne- og skriveprøve. Klasselæreren udfyldte på dette tidspunkt et oplysningsskema fra Sociologisk Institut med resultaterne fra de to prøver og om drengenes sociale status. To år senere udvalgte man en stikprøve på omkring 33 % af drengenes mødre til at deltage i et interview om familiens sociale forhold, holdning til opdragelse og fritidsaktiviteter.

Sygdomsudvikling i kohorten følges

I år 2000 lykkedes det forskere ved Institut for Folkesundhedsvidenskab at lokalisere disse historiske data. I 2001 godkendte Datatilsynet, at man kunne bruge disse oplysninger som udgangspunkt for at undersøge betydningen af forhold tidligt i livet for helbred senere i livet. Med henblik på at følge sygdomsudviklingen i kohorten er der efterfølgende foretaget kobling med bl.a. Landspatient-og Dødsårsagsregisteret.

I efteråret 2004 gennemførtes en spørgeskemaundersøgelse blandt de oprindelige deltagere i Metropolit.

Projekt Metropolit indgik i 2008 som en del af the Copenhagen Aging and Midlife Biobank (CAMB) en database inkl. en forskningsbiobank, som omfatter midaldrende personer, og hvor fokus er på biologiske, psykiske og sociale faktorer for at studere aldringsprocesser over hele
livsløbet. CAMB, som er støttet af Veluxfonden, er beskrevet på

Med det hovedformål at undersøge sammenhængen mellem ændringer i kognitiv dysfunktion hos midaldrende mænd og fysiologiske mekanismer lokaliseret i hjernestammen undersøges udvalgte deltagere ved en omfattende neurofysiologisk undersøgelse som ledes af Neurofysiologisk afdeling ved Rigshospitalet, Glostrup.


Vi takker deltagerne i undersøgelsen, og de som påbegyndte og fortsatte projekt Metropolit fra
1965 til 1983: K Svalastoga, E Høgh, P Wolf, T Rishøj, G Strande-Sørensen, E Manniche, B
Holten, IA Weibull og A Ortmann for deres store arbejdsindsats.

Projektet er støttet økonomisk med bevillinger fra:
Sygekassernes Helsefond
Apotekerforeningens forskningsfond
Else og Mogens Wedell-Wedelsborgs Fond
Københavns Universitets Center for Sund Aldring (Nordeafonden)
Danmarks Frie Forskningsfond


Merete Osler (klinisk professor, ph.d., dr. med.) er hovedansvarlig for den forskningsmæssige videreførelse af projekt Metropolit.


Der er publiceret en lang række videnskabelige artikler hvor der indgår data fra Metropolit.
Endvidere indgår data også i en række artikler fra CAMB.



We are a world leading group that focuses on a diverse range of topics. We research at interface between computer science, mathematics, biology and epidemiology. Our main focus areas are currently 
1) Statistical analysis of register data 
We do traditional epidemiology to answer policy relevant questions as well as explore new methodologies from statistics and deep learning that can improve prediction and estimation.
2) Deep learning 
We employ contrastive learning to study images in both satellites and medical cases. We also are in the beginning of utilizing deep learning for protein structure similarity. 
3) Infectious disease modelling 
We study renewal, hawkes and branching processes to model infectious disease data. Our focus here has recently been on mathematical foundations, but we also do applied work on economics and health.
4) Phylogenetics 
We are studying the question of how to explore the vastness of tree space and developing approximate methods for whole genome analysis
and 5) Causal inference.
We are building the mathematical foundations to estimate time 0
Contact person: Samir Bhatt



The BIO-EPI research group is focused on bridging wet- and dry- lab data for the improved understanding of the underlying biology in non-communicable diseases. Our primary research activities are:

  1. Identification and evaluation of biomarkers for chronic aging-related diseases (fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular, cognitive impairment, dementia) and disease progression;
  2. Investigations of high-dimensional data (genome-wide association studies, metabolomics and proteomics) in observational epidemiology;
  3. Advancement of methodological approaches for the epidemiological investigation of biomarkers in chronic diseases (Mendelian Randomization, multi-omics).

Close collaborations with the Data Science Lab, Statistics Denmark and the Department of pathology, Region Zealand University Hospital – with the aim to combine data repositories and tissue biobank from millions of Danes to estimate prognosis and reclassify (biopsy-proven) diseases (PATHOLIFE).

Partly funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation Challenge Grant “Harnessing the Power of Big Data to Address the Societal Challenge of Ageing” (NNF17OC0027812).

Contact: Majken K. Jensen



The Nutrition, -Omics, and Cardiometabolic Diseases Group focuses on investigating the role of dietary and lifestyle factors in cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. Our goal is to incorporate high-throughput –omics techniques into traditional epidemiological analysis to gain insights into underlying mechanisms.

Research focus

Our research group focuses on integrating nutrition and lifestyle factors with –omics data to advance in the prevention of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

One of our major research focuses is to study the interplay between diet and lifestyle, metabolomics, and cardiometabolic diseases by identifying metabolite profiles and networks associated with cardiometabolic diseases and how diet and lifestyle may modulate these associations.

Another central research focus is nutritional epidemiology. We evaluate the association between several dietary factors, dietary patterns, and their relationship with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and mortality in the context of large prospective cohort studies and clinical trials. We have a particular interest in sustainable diets and their impact on health.

Finally, by leveraging large cohort studies and clinical trials with dietary data and metabolomics, we aim to advance in the field of precision nutrition by improving objective dietary biomarkers through the integration of -omics data and evaluate their association with cardiovascular diseases.

Read more about the project at CBMR (Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research).

Picture of Marta Guasch