Petter Ljungman

Principal researcher

I am a cardiologist and environmental epidemiologist. I grew up in the US, Kenya, India, Chile, Italy and Sweden, experiences that have contributed to my interest in global environmental health.

About me

I am Associate Professor and Research Group Leader at the Unit of Environmental Epidemiology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, KI and Senior Consultant of Cardiology at the Department of Cardiology, Danderyd Hospital.

I have been investigating the cardiovascular effects of air pollution exposure in national as well as in European collaborations since 2004. I completed a 2 year postdoc at Harvard Medical School, researching vascular effects of air pollution in the Framingham Heart Study.

My current research interests center around cardiovascular effects of environmental exposures including air pollution, ambient noise as well as ambient temperature. Recently, I am expanding air pollution research efforts into low and middle income countries that are experiencing extreme levels of air pollution and rapid urban development. Together with colleagues at Harvard and the Public Health Foundation of India, I am heading a large-scale effort to comprehensively assess PM2.5 levels across India and collaborate with Indian health researchers to conduct health association studies for a range of outcomes. I believe an important future direction is to harness the opportunities to prevent non-communicable disease through creating healthy urban environments, translating research into policy. 

I also have an assignment as expert coordinator at the Centre for Health Crises at KI, in the field of extreme weather, climate and health effects. 

Research description

Current projects:

AIRFIB and DANTE: Air pollution and atrial fibrillation: We are investigating associations between short-term exposure to air pollution in relation to the burden and onset of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation using handheld EKG devices as well as implanted pacemakers and defibrillators. Funded by FORTE.

SCAC: Sources of particulate air pollution and cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease: Using detailed dispersion models in Stockholm, Göteborg and Umeå we are investigating which local particulate matter source emissions may be most responsible for effects on mortality and incidence of ischemic heart disease and stroke. Funded by Swedish EPA.

ELAPSE: Low-level air pollution exposure and mortality and morbidity in Europe: We are participating in a multi-center European study headed by University of Utrecht using hybrid air pollution models to study associations with mortality, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and cancer in the low exposure range, exploring the relevance of current air pollution standards. Funded by Horizon 2020.

CHAIR-India: Air pollution, temperature and health in India: In this international collaboration between Karolinska Institute, Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health and the Public Health Foundation of India, including researchers from Brown University, Boston University and Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, we are setting up a comprehensive assessment model by applying machine learning algorithms to estimate daily levels of ambient fine particulate matter air pollution (PM2.5) and ambient temperature for every square kilometer across India since 2008. By linking historical air pollution estimates to existing health studies, we can then characterize the links between air pollution and temperature and different disorders such as heart and lung disease, dementia, pregnancy and birth outcomes. Financed through Formas and donations from Carl Bennet.

MiljöSCAPIS: Road traffic noise and air pollution and cardiometabolic outcomes in the Swedish Cardio Pulmonary Imaging Study (SCAPIS). Dispersion models of air pollution and noise models will be used to understand how environmental exposures may affect the risk of atherosclerosis and metabolic disease characterised by advanced computer tomography exams in 30 000 individuals from 6 Swedish cities. Financed through FORTE. 


Past projects include air pollution and ventricular arrhythmias in ICD patients, cardiac arrest patients, vascular function in the Framingham Heart Study, and biomarkers of inflammation in myocardial infarction survivors. We have also studied the associations between ambient temperature and the risk of cardiac arrest.

PhD supervision:

Auriba Raza, completed 2018, main supervisor

Marcus Dahlquist, ongoing, main supervisor

Joakim Olbers, ongoing, co-supervisor

Martin Jonsson, ongoing, co-supervisor


2019: Associate Professor of Epidemiology

2017: Assistant Professor of Epidemiology

2012-2014: Post doc Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit, Dep of Cardiology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA 

2012: Specialist of Cardiology

2010: Specialist of Internal Medicine

2009: PhD Karolinska Institute "Cardiovascular effects of short-term exposure to air pollution"

1999: Medical License

1996: MD Uppsala University

Academic honours, awards and prizes

2016: 2+2 year Strategic Research Area (SFO) Epidemiology Assistant Professor position

2015: FORTE Junior researcher grant

2012: 36-month COFAS Marie Curie Research Program fellowship for postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School and Karolinska Institute

2012+2014: Swedish Society for Medical Research (SSMF) postdoc and researcher grants

2012: Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation grant