Lisbeth E. Knudsen

Lisbeth E. Knudsen


Professor Lisbeth Ehlert Knudsen is MSc in biochemistry from the University of Copenhagen in 1980 PhD in biomedicine in 1993. Lisbeth has worked as civil servant (in the Environmental Protection Agency, the Danish Working Environment Authority, and the Danish Medicines Agency) and as a researcher (at the National Research Centre for the Working Environment and the University of Copenhagen). With this diverse background, she has a unique ability to understand the context in which research takes place and to effectively communicate scientific concepts to non-academic audiences.

Lisbeth's research is primarily in toxicology, specifically reproductive toxicology with an emphasis on fetal exposure, biomonitoring of environmental and occupational influences, and ethical considerations regarding individual participation. Lisbeth has also worked on alternatives to animal testing and the ethical aspects of genetic testing. Lisbeth successfully mapped numerous exposures among school children and mothers in close collaboration with key stakeholders in Denmark through the European pilot project for human biomonitoring in Denmark, DEMOCOPHES. This project has evolved into the European Human Biomonitoring Initiative, HBM4EU, with Lisbeth as a partner with the specific task of managing ethical aspects and serving as Denmark's national focal point.

Five scientific articles stand out in her communication efforts:


Throughout her career, Lisbeth has engaged in extensive communication efforts, both with the general public and as an expert advisor to governmental bodies. She is frequently approached by journalists to explain complex scientific issues related to pollution, and she gladly offers her expertise in exchange for quotes or background information. Lisbeth sees active engagement with societal needs as an essential component of a professorship at the University of Copenhagen, which has been highlighted in light of the PFAS case. This situation required Lisbeth to balance several factors, including scientific rigour, media sensationalism, public concerns, and political interest.

Among Lisbeth's numerous media appearances, the following stand out:

Primary fields of research

  • Ethics and the use of human material
  • Toxicology, genotoxicology, biomonitoring of environmental and occupational impacts, ethical aspects of genetic testing (including pharmacogenetics and sensitivity markers)

Responsibilities/Work Tasks:

  • Professor of toxicology at the University of Copenhagen, Department of Public Health Sciences
  • Chair of ethics committee for SUND/Science and chair of Regional scientific ethics committee F
  • Teaching in toxicology, in vitro testing, environment and occupational health, and health
  • Previous head of studies for bachelor/master's degree programs in public health sciences at the Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Previous elected member of the Faculty of Health Sciences in the Academic Council at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences and member of the nomination committee

Current research

Current Projects

European Human Biomonitoring Initiative -HBM4EU - Horizon2020 program contract No 733032. Linked Third Party via NRCWE focusing on ethics and the national hub contact point finished in 2022 however many activities still ongoing in relation the succeeding project PARC-Partnership for the Assessment of Risks from Chemicals

Human Exposure to PCB in buildings. HBM projekt with National Research Center on Building and the National Research Center on Working Environment

Past Projects

BRIDGE-Health (BRidging information and Data Generation) for Evidence-based Health Policy and Research) aims to create European health information (EU-HI) and data generation networks covering major EU health policy areas. Project no.: 664691. 2015 –

Review of the state of the art of human biomonitoring for chemical subtances and its application to human exposure assessment for food safety. EFSA contract by BiPro 2014

Human exposure to novel flame retardants from materials to humans (NO FLAME). DFF post doc bevilling til Marie Frederiksen, Statens Byggeforskningsinstitut, Aalborg Universitet

COPHES: (COnsortium to Perform Human biomonitoring on a European Scale) FP7 2009-2013, half of the expenses for sampling and analysis nationally to be covered by DEMOCOPHES EU Life+ and further funding from the ministries of Health, Food and environment each contributing with 1/6th of the expenses (2009-2013).

Endocrine disruption by pesticides. Research financed by the Environmental Protection Agency Pesticide Fund (2009-2013).

Toxicology in vitro in Denmark: Danish Network in vitro toxicology and alternative methods (2008-2011).

Nanotest Development of methodology for alternative testing strategies for the assessment of the toxicological profile of nanoparticles used in medical diagnostics. A Collaborative Project. Small or medium-scale focused research project, under FP7 (2008-2011).

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) - fetal and neonatal exposure. Project in collaboration with the National Environmental Institute and partly financed by the Danish Medical Research Council (2007-2009).

NEWGENERIS Newborns and genotoxic exposure risks: Development and application of biomarkers of dietary exposure to genotoxic and immunotoxic chemicals and of biomarkers of early effects, using mother-child birth cohorts and bio banks (EU Integrated Project). LEK is partner with placenta perfusion, samples for biomarker analysis and ethics. (2006-2011).

ESBIO Expert team to Support BIO monitoring specific support action to support a pilot project with biomonitoring in EU (2005-2007).

Placental transport of pesticides. Research financed by the Environmental Protection Agency Pesticide Fund (2006-2008).

ReProTect: Development of a novel approach in hazard and risk assessment of reproductive toxicity by combination and application of in vitro, tissue and sensor technology. EU Integrated Project. (2004-2009). LEK was partner no 32 with placenta perfusion, biomonitoring and ethics. 


PhD Supervision

Tina Mose: development and optimization of an ex-vivo human placental perfusion system – Placental transfer of chemical compounds. 2009.

Marie Frederiksen: Human exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers. An exposure study of pregnant women and their un- and newborn children. 2010.

Marie Pedersen: Transplacental exposure to environmental pollutants. Biomarkers of exposures and effects in blood from mother-newborn pairs. 2010.

Mia B. Kjærstad: Potential endocrine disturbance of fetal development by azole compounds used as antifungals in pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals – a study on placental transport and effects on steroid receptors and steroid metabolizing enzymes. 2011.

Line Mathiesen: Active transport across human placenta. Defence 25.8.2011.

Thit Aarøe Mørck: Exposures to environmental toxicants amongst schoolchildren and their mothers. From December 2010.

Caroline Pehrsson Placental malaria, free fetal haemoglobin and preeclampsia in collaboration with Thor Theander, Peter Damm and Stefan Hansson. 2016.

Master's Thesis Supervision

Anne Bendix Hansen og Simone hansen Stavad: HDL og hjrtekarsygdom - en undersøgelse af farmakologisk øgning af HDL kolesterol. Master's thesis in Public Health, May 2012.

Allan Askjær: Indeklimaets betydning for astma hos børn. Master's thesis in Public Health, May 2012.

Katarina Pollakova: In vitro and ex vivo transport experiments of Fe3O4 and SiO2 nanoparticles performed on human skin and HaCaT keratinocyte cell line. Master’s thesis in Environmental Chemistry and Health, July 2011.

Marie Sønnegård Poulsen: In vitro test methods for transport of selected small chemicals and nanoparticles in human placenta models. Master’s thesis in Human Biology, July 2010.

Ane Dahl Jørgensen og Line Kenborg: Udendørsarbejde og risiko for hudkræft og læbekræft. Et registerbaseret case-kontrol studie blandt mandlige danske lønmodtagere. Master's thesis in Public Health, August 2008.

Pernille Winton Hansen: Eksponering for PCB og kviksølv blandt danske skolebørn og deres mødre. Master's thesis in Public Health, 2014.

Giuseppina Zuri: Development and Validation of a Reversed-Phase HPLC method for the simultaneous detection and quantitative determination of parabens and p-hydroxybenzoic acid in human placental perfusion. Master’s thesis in Environmental Chemistry, 2015.

Maria Guerra: Placental transport of parabens studies by the human dual perfusion system. Master’s thesis in Environmental Chemistry, 2015.

Ine Wouters: Prenatal environmental exposure and neonatal health outcome: analysis of the epigenetic biomarkers DNA methylation and DNA hydroxymethylation in mononuclear cells from newborn and their mothers in the Danish part of the NEWGENERIS study. Erasmus exchange student from Biomedical Science Studies. Antwerp University, 2015.

Sara Højriis: Effects of oral exposure to formononetin in Sprague Dawley rats. Completed 2016.

Heidi Katrine Hansen: Risikovurdering af den danske befolknings udsættelse for glyphosat. Master's thesis in Public Health, December 2016.

Alexandra Opalinska: Transfer of paracetamol, aniline and the metabolites in the ex vivo human placental perfusion model. Master’s thesis in Environmental Chemistry. December 2016.

Mathilde Veje: Er det farligt for fosteret at tage paracetamol når man er gravid? Master's thesis in Medicine. June 2017.

Raagavi Thangarajah: En kvalitativ undersøgelse af oplevelsen af det nye diabetesambulatotierstruktur på pædiatrisk afdeling (sygehus Lillebælt). Master's thesis in Public Health, August 2018.

Rikke Færgeman Sørensen: Amniocentesis projekt på RH Vækst og Reproduktion. Master's thesis in Public Health, August 2019

Ida Iwersen: Sundhedsmæssig risiko ved ulykker på atomkraftværker. Master's thesis in Public Health, June 2019.

Mathias Johannes Hansen: Påvirker intrauterin udsættelse for paracetamol/acetaminophen kvindelig reproduktionsudvikling? Master's thesis in Medicine 2019

Stine Søgård Normann: Overførsel af xenobiotiske stoffer fra moderen til barnet i løbet af graviditet og amning. Study based on the COPSAC2010-cohort. April 2021.

Possible conflicts of interest


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