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 Professer

Phone: +45 60 15 55 45



Name Contact Information
Postdoc Tim Cadman
Postdoc Vanessa Coffman 
PhD student Efstathios Vryonidis



Microchimerism, namely the presence and persistence of cells originating from other individuals, is common in women. ‘Foreign’ cells, which often derive from pregnancy, occur at low concentrations, and reside in tissues and organs throughout women’s bodies. Also during pregnancy, cells traffic from the pregnant woman to her fetus, where they may engraft and persist. Although pregnancy is the most common source of microchimerism, other unknown sources exist. The microchimerism epidemiology (ME) group is investigating the secretive etiology of microchimerism. Intriguingly, microchimerism is strongly associated with health. The scarce literature demonstrates an increased risk of autoimmune disorders, but also a decreased risk of malignancy in women who harbor alien cells compared with women who do not. The ME group also investigates the role of microchimerism in women’s and children’s health. Microchimerism research is based on biological material. We are utilizing blood samples and data from unique cohorts of elderly women and their offspring, and repeat blood donors, in combination with health data from national registries to learn about:

  • The etiology of microchimerism in women and children
  • Links between microchimerism, preeclampsia, and cardiovascular disease in women
  • Associations between microchimerism and malignancies in women
  • Relations between microchimerism and autoimmunity in children

Our research is carried out in close cooperation with national laboratories, and peers from the few international microchimerism environments. Our expertise in this field is the use of standard and customized epidemiological designs and analytical approaches to test and develop hypotheses.

Group leader:

Associate professor Mads Kamper-Jørgensen


Associate professor Mads Kamper-Jørgensen
PhD student Sara Hallum
Postdoc Gitte Lindved Petersen



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