I am an assistant professor in genetic epidemiology of aging, interested in combining genetic and longitudinal designs to understand complex traits.
My primary research aim is to understand how overweight influences risk of age-related diseases, by studying why different forms of overweight have different effects on the risk of dementia, cardiovascular disease, and type-2 diabetes. I am also interested in understanding how geographic circumstances influence late-life health.
Adiposity and the risk of age-related disease
The project aims to leverage the heterogeneity of adiposity-related traits, to understand better how adiposity influences the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and dementia. My hypothesis is that specific adiposity-related traits have different effects on the risk of the age-related diseases, and that these differences are explained by differences in e.g. metabolic factors or accelerated aging. I study adiposity in general (e.g. BMI and body fat distribution), and specific adiposity-related traits: a) metabolically unhealthy vs healthy adiposity; b) environmentally vs genetically driven adiposity, and c) adiposity measured in midlife vs late-life. These adiposity-related traits are associated with substantially increased, vs only slightly increased or even decreased risk of age-related disease (compared to having normal weight), and by studying what differs between them, I aim to advance our understanding of both the heterogeneity of overweight and of how adiposity in general affects late-life health.
In addition to myself, two PhD students are conducting their thesis work within this project:
Peggy Ler, thesis title: How do body mass index and metabolic health in mid and late-life impact biological aging and mortality?
Elsa Ojalehto, thesis title: How does adiposity influence the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes? Exploring confounding and mediating factors
Life course geographic circumstances and late-life health
Together with colleagues in Sweden, the UK, and the US, I am studying life course geographic circumstances in relation to dementia and other outcomes related to late-life health. Our aim is to examine 1) how genetic and environmental factors contribute to how people choose where to live, and 2) how life course geographic circumstances affect Alzheimer’s and related dementias and other late-life outcomes.
Within the scope of this project, I co-supervise one PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, and have supervised two master students from Stockholm University:
Otto-Emil Jutila, PhD thesis title: Air pollution and Dementia: Exploring genetic and epigenetic moderators and mechanisms.
Anita Paul, master thesis title: Understanding the relationship between birth weight and frailty, and differences in urban vs. rural living.
Elsa Ojalehto (as co-supervisor, now PhD student), master thesis title: Influences of genetic predisposition to higher education on social and geographical mobility.
Lecturer, School of Health and Welfare, Jönköping University, 2018-2020
- Lectures on statistical methods (doctoral level)
- Lectures on cognition and dementia (bachelor and master level)
- An introduction to genetic and molecular epidemiology, Karolinska Institutet, from 2021 (PhD course, 1.5 credits)
- Statistical Methods, School of Health and Welfare, Jönköping University, 2020 (PhD course, 7.5 credits)
Current supervision of students:
- Peggy Ler, PhD student at Karolinska Institutet, Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics
- Elsa Ojalehto, PhD student at Karolinska Institutet, Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics
- Otto-Emil Jutila (as co-supervisor), PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, Precision Medicine Doctoral Training Program
- Anita Paul, master student from Stockholm University, Public health department
- Elsa Ojalehto (as co-supervisor, now PhD student), master student from Stockholm University, Public health department
PhD in Epidemiology, Karolinska Institutet, 2017
MSc Biomedicine, Karolinska Institutet, 2010
Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, 2021-2022
Fulbright Scholar at the University of California, Riverside, 2019-2020 (6 months)
Institute of Gerontology, School of Health and Welfare, Jönköping University, 2017-2020
Academic honours, awards and prizes
2022: Promising Researcher award, the Nordic Gerontological Federation
2019: Fulbright Scholar Awardee
My research has received funding from FORTE (postdoc and project grant), The Strategic Research Program in Epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet (SFOepi), Karolinska Institutet’s Research Foundation, Loo and Hans Osterman Foundation for Medical Research, Foundation for Geriatric Diseases at Karolinska Institutet, Eurolife, The Fulbrigh Commission, Throne Holst Foundation, and The Medical Research Council UK (as co-supervisor in the Precision Medicine Doctoral Training Program at the University of Edinburgh).