Vacant phd position


A position as PhD-student is vacant in the project "D-tecting disease". The scholarship is co-financed by The Danish PhD School of Molecular Metabolism.

Project title:

"D-tecting disease - from exposure to vitamin D during critical periods of life"

Project supervisor:

Professor of clinical and metabolic epidemiology Thorkild I. A. Sørensen
Institute of Preventive Medicine
Copenhagen University Hospital

Application deadline:

11 June 2012

Background/ aim of project

Vitamin D deficiency is common among otherwise healthy pregnant women and may have consequences for them as well as the early development and long-term health of their children. However, the importance of maternal vitamin D status has not been widely studied. The present strategic research program includes an in-depth examination of the influence of exposure to vitamin D early in life and during critical periods of growth for development of type 1 diabetes (T1D), obesity and fractures of the wrist, arm and clavicle during child- and adulthood. The study is based on the fact that in 1961 fortifying margarine with vitamin D became mandatory in Denmark and in 1972 milk fortification was allowed. Apart from determining the influences of exposure prior to conception and during pre- and postnatal life, we will examine the importance of vitamin D exposure during specific seasons and trimesters, by comparing disease incidence among individuals born before and after fortification. In the present PhD project, the focus will be on the association between the perinatal vitamin D exposure and development of childhood obesity.

Short project description

We will examine if low levels of vitamin D during critical phases of development and growth will have adverse effects on the long-term health of offspring, and examine if exposure to vitamin D fortified foods beneficially affect the development of obesity in child- and adulthood. The mandatory fortification of milk and margarine in two separate periods from 1961-1985 allows us to examine the effects of low vitamin D during fetal life and other critical growth periods in relation to later development of disease. Comparing the individual risk for subjects born around the time when fortification was initiated or terminated represents a unique research opportunity. We will test the hypothesis that individuals born in the years just after mandatory vitamin D fortified foods were introduced will have a lower incidence of obesity the following approx. 50 years than those born prior to fortification and likewise that subjects born in the years just before fortification was terminated will have a lower disease incidence over the following approx. 25 years than those born in the years after termination. This will be based on analyses of the Copenhagen School Health Record Register including app. 370,000 records with personal identification including date of birth, birth weight and repeated measurement of height and weight in the school health examinations in all schools in the Copenhagen municipality for the birth yeas 1930 through 1989, computerized by the institute during the last 25 years and used for numerous other health research projects related to body size.

Perspectives/ objectives

The results, which will change our current understanding of the significance of vitamin D, will enable new research in related fields, including interventional research designed to assess supplementation needs for different subgroups of pregnant women. Also, other health outcomes can subsequently be studied to generate multiple new interdisciplinary health research opportunities involving vitamin D.

Link to a description on how to apply

To overview
DANORC is supported by the
The Danish Council for Strategic Research
Institute of Preventive Medicine
Frederiksberg Hospital
Nordre Fasanvej 57
2000 Frederiksberg
Tel.: +45 38163025