Talent development

Talent development is a main aim at the interdisciplinary research centres at Aarhus University, and CIRRAU supports the education of new researchers within register-based research. The support consists of e.g. personal training and stipends. Below is a list of PhD and postdoc stipends awarded by CIRRAU.



PhD student Anita Tønder Nielsen, National Centre for Register-based Research, Aarhus University

Stipend 01.01.16 - 31.12.16

Sub-optimal treatment of physical illness in persons with severe mental illness: identification and quantification of contributing factors to excess mortality

Severe mental illnesses (SMI) such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are considered some of the most disabling disorders worldwide. Life expectancy for persons with SMI is reduced by 20 years compared to the general population. Explanations for the reduced life expectancy are multiple, but sub-optimal treatment of physical illnesses like cancer and cardiovascular disease seems to play a major role. Sub-optimal treatment of physical illness includes patient delay, diagnostic delay, under-detection, under-treatment, lower participation in screening programs, lower compliance when patients are transferred from one section in the health care system into another and lower quality of medical care that requires routine follow-up, for example relating to cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

The purpose of this PhD project is identification and quantification of factors related to sub-optimal treatment of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease and thereby also to excess mortality in persons with SMI. This will be done through epidemiological register-based follow-up studies on nationwide, population-based Danish registers, where health-related data will be combined with socioeconomic data. Evidence from this study may contribute to better treatment of physical disorders like cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease among persons with SMI and thereby help reduce the excess mortality in this group.

This PhD project involves Aarhus University researchers based at the Department of Economics and Business Economics and at the Department of Public Health. It is jointly funded by The Lundbeck Foundation and by MEPRICA, the Graduate School of Health, CIRRAU, and NCRR at Aarhus University.


Postdoc Sanni Nørgaard Breining, Department of Economics and Business Economics

Stipend 01.01.15 - 31.12.16

Effects of early childhood conditions on human capital accumulation

Early-life medical interventions have significant effects on the outcomes of treated children. Medical treatments soon after birth have been shown to substantially improve short-term health and long-term outcomes such as academic achievement. Part of this postdoc project will investigate spillover effects of these early-life medical treatments on the siblings of treated children. Specifically, a regression discontinuity design will be used exploiting changes in medical treatments across the very low birth weight threshold.

It is likely that the effects of these early-life medical treatments are heterogeneous across child- and parental characteristics. A particular focus will be placed on these potential heterogeneities.

A second part of the postdoc project will consider hospital resources. Specifically, the project will investigate how exogenous variation in the availability of hospital resources affects patient outcomes. Further potential spillovers onto other family members will be explored along with heterogeneities across different characteristics.

This postdoc project involves Aarhus University researchers based at the Department of Economics and Business Economics and is funded by CIRRAU.


PhD student Peter Rønø Thingholm, Department of Economics & Business Economics

Stipend 01.01.15 - 31.12.15

Investigating health responses of individuals with low socioeconomic status

The purpose of the project is to investigate the consequences of a switch from a principle of universality in the health sector to more targeted use of resources in that sector by using relatively more resources treating individuals with low levels of health literacy. Health literacy is the ability of an individual to mobilize own resources to take preventive measures or adhere to a certain treatment regimen. Investigating the effectiveness of the health care sector across individuals with varying health behavior and education, potentially lead to policy recommendations to target certain groups differently to increase aggregate health stock and reduce the increasing health care expenditures.

As the first pillar of this project, the variation in general practitioners' ability to facilitate adherence to prescription drugs are used to estimate the effects of these prescription drugs, and drug effectiveness across socioeconomic groups and health status are investigated.


PhD student Jörg Schullehner, The Geological Survey of Greenland and Denmark (GEUS)

Stipend 01.06.14 - 31.05.15

Groundwater N-pollution and public health effects - The example of gastrointestinal cancer

This PhD project is analyzing the health effects of nitrate in drinking water in Denmark, exemplified by the case of gastrointestinal cancers. We are taking advantage of the unique set of registers that are available in Denmark. On the effect side, health data from the National Cancer Register is combined with geocoded addresses of all Danish residents from the CPR register, supplied by CIRRAU. In combination with newly developed annual drinking water quality maps for the whole country based on the national geo-database JUPITER, exposure to nitrate from drinking water at an individual level can be estimated for large parts of the population since 1978. The resulting epidemiological study will have by far the largest study population and therefore be an important input to the so far equivocal question of health effects of nitrate in drinking water.

If a positive association between nitrate in drinking water and cancer should be found, the health related costs of nitrogen use in agriculture on society will be investigated.

This PhD project is part of the research alliance DNMARK (www.dnmark.org), and funded by The Danish Council for Strategic Research and CIRRAU. It is a collaboration between the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) and Aarhus University, Department of Public Health.


Postdoc Robert G Peel, Department of Environmental Science, AU

Stipend 01.04.14 - 31.03.15

Agricultural airborne N-pollution, agricultural particle pollution and public health effects

Atmospheric particulate pollution can have a significant effect on human health, especially in the vicinity of active sources. The intensive agriculture practiced in Denmark releases large amounts of several different types of particles into the atmosphere. This project will focus on two agriculturally emitted species – ammonia, and the fungal spore Alternaria. Ammonia from agriculture makes a considerable contribution to fine airborne particles (those less than 2.5 μm in diameter) through the formation of secondary particles. Fine airborne particles are thought to contribute significantly to negative health effects amongst the Danish population, however there is evidence to suggest that the contribution from agricultural emissions of ammonia may be small. Spores of some fungal species within the genus Alternaria are allergenic, and can cause allergic diseases such as hay fever. This is thought to have a considerable health impact on the Danish population. High atmospheric concentrations of Alternaria spores have recently been linked with particular agricultural activities.

The aim of this post-doc project is to investigate the impact of agricultural ammonia emissions on the health of the Danish population. This will be achieved by assessing exposure to ammonia and its derivatives using both simple distance-related proxies and calculations performed with advanced atmospheric chemistry-transport models. Epidemiological studies will then be performed, in which exposure data will be combined with data from health and other registers.

This post-doc project involves Aarhus University researchers based at both the Department of Environmental Science and the Department of Public Health, and is jointly funded by CIRRAU and the research alliance DNMARK (www.dnmark.org).