Section for Epidemiology

​Section for Epidemiology comprises the population studies in Glostrup together with two research groups focusing on micronutrients and chronic diseases and lifecourse epidemiology. The section deals with many research areas, however, they all work with data and methods focusing on population data (e.g. Copenhagen School Health Records Register and the Population Studies in Glostrup) together with data fra national registers.

 Research areas

Lifecourse Epidemiology 

Associate Professor and Senior Researcher Jennifer L. Baker leads the group “Life Course Epidemiology of Growth and Health" in the Section for Epidemiology. A substantial part of the work in her group uses the data resource of the Copenhagen School Health Records Register which contains measures of height and weight on 405,000 school children born from 1930-1996. Though linkages with national health registers, cohort studies and databases, this resource supports studies examining how childhood body size and growth, alone and in conjunction with adult size, relate to the risks of cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, as well as many other diseases. Another key data resource used by the group is the Infant Health Visitor Records Register which contains information on approximately 95,000 infants born from 1958-1967. Again, through linkages with other data resources Jennifer and her group members investigate how early life growth and nutrition are related to health later in life. 

Populationbased Epidemiology, micronutrients and chronic diseases

Diseases that are prevalent and undiagnosed or which cause is not understood
The population studies have traditionally been focused on the more prevalent lifestyle diseases like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, but in the section we also study asthma and allergies and potential explanations for the increased prevalence of these diseases. Likewise, we have studied gluten intolerance and worked on showing that the actual prevalence of this disease is far more common in the Danish population than the national disease registries would suggest. Recently, we have also studied the development and treatment of depression and differing factors with importance to cognitive function.The group is also working with functional disorders that often can be undiagnosed and are barely understood. The section did the world's largest cohort study of functional disorders, and the group are at work on data analyses and a repetition study that began in the spring of 2018.

Monitoring disease and risk factors
Data from the national health surveys are an excellent resource for studying the prevalence of diseases in the population and the extent of different risk factors. Especially, monitoring of risk factors it is necessary to have access to data of biomarker concentrations in blood or urine tests.
In the section we have been particularily interested in micronutrients, such as: Iodine, Vitamin D and table salt. This involves both the monitoring of the consumption by the Danish population and its significance for development of different diseases. We have been active in the discussion regarding the national consumption of Vitamin D and the danger which low average consumption poses to national health and efforts in disease prevention.We are likewise deeply involved in the monitoring of the Danish iodine enrichment programme (DanThyr) and take part in international collaborations regarding iodine and its importance to the development of metabolism

Biomarkers and genetic markers
In Section for Epidemiology we are interested in new biomarkers that can have possible applications in evaluating disease risk or severity. We are therefore currently working with a new biomarker for Vitamin K and likewise have previously worked with biomarkers for diagnosis of celiac disease. We also have active partnerships where our national health data is used to provide better information regarding the specific biomarker levels used in clinics for diagnostic and monitoring purposes. Genetic markers are also a substantial parameter in a large part of the sections research. The genetic markers used are often for Mendelian randomisation, as a specialised tool using knowledge of different gene variations to analyse risk of disease development. We work with the genetic markers independently and in collaboration with our international collaborations, for example our ongoing work with UK Biobank.

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