Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Birthdate: December 7, 1945
Family: Married to Karen Bodil Valling Sørensen. Three children born 1972, 1974, and 1977.
Education and occupations
MD (1971), authorized specialist in internal medicine (1983), and in liver diseases (1985). Doctoral degree (Dr Med Sci, 1983). Chief physician at the Department of liver diseases, Hvidovre University Hospital (1988-89). MRC Professor of clinical epidemiology (1989-94). Clinical professor at the Department of Public Health at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, and chief physician in clinical epidemiology at the Copenhagen Hospital System (1994-2017). Director of the Institute of Preventive Medicine at the Copenhagen Hospital System, latest at Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital (1993-2016). Dean of the Faculty (1995-6). Part-time Professor of metabolic epidemiology at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Centre for Basic Metabolic Research, associated with the Section on Metabolic Genetics (2011+), and at the Department of Public Health (2017+) at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen.
Coordinator of several national and international research projects and networks: Nordic Network on longitudinal epidemiology investigating “Pre- and Childhood Growth in Relation to Risk of Cardiovascular Disease”; the EU FP5 project NUGENOB (Nutrient-Gene Interactions in Human Obesity – Implications for Dietary Guidelines, 2001-4); the epidemiological research line in the Integrated EU FP6 project, DIOGENES (Diet, Obesity and Genes, 2005-9); the Integrated EU FP6 project, HEPADIP (Hepatic and Adipose Tissue function in the Metabolic Syndrome, 2005-9). Initiated the formation of the network of Danish research groups focusing on obesity and its causes and complications, which lead to formation of DanORC (Danish Obesity Research Centre, 2007-11), and thereafter the research program GENDINOB (Gene-diet interaction in Obesity, 2010-15), both heavily supported by the Danish Strategic Research Council.
Areas of research activities
Main area of research during the early career was both obesity epidemiology and clinical epidemiological research in hepatology and gastroenterology, but the last ~20 years it has almost exclusively been various aspects of obesity, genetic and environmental causes, life course development, changes in occurrence over time including the obesity epidemic, psychosocial and metabolic health consequences, morbidity and mortality including relations to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Current main interest is development of a theory about causes and consequences of obesity. A new area of interest is the theory and methods about generating clinical epidemiologically valid evidence for ‘personalized medicine’.
Positions of trust
President of The Danish Association for the Study of Obesity in two full term periods, and President of the European Congress on Obesity in Copenhagen (1995). Advisor, supervisor or reviewer of multiple doctoral and PhD dissertations, involved in establishing a graduate school in public health sciences, served as scientific advisor, board member and reviewer for many different national and international institutions, organizations, and journals, and research consortia, including several EU-based projects, e.g. chair of the international panel assessing the application to establish UK Biobank (2006), Chair of an "Independent Expert Group for the future of public health research in Europe" (2012-3) established by the EU Commission with the purpose of providing novel ideas for H2020 about thematic priorities, structure, national engagement and policy implementation in public health broadly defined as health promotion, disease prevention and health services, Chair of the external advisory board of the German Competence Network of Obesity Research (2009-13), and Chair of the International Scientific Panel reviewing proposals for University/hospital departments (DHU) in Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris (2013).
Awards and honours
I have received the Danish awards entitled the Hagedorn (1988), the Codan (1999) and the Erhoff (2009) prizes, the Population Science and Public Health Award from the International Association for the Study of Obesity for research (2010), and the Mickey Stunkard Lifetime Achievement Award from The Obesity Society in Los Angeles (2015). I have become Knight of the Order of Dannebrog (2008), Doctor Honoris Causa at the University of Helsinki, Finland (2010) and of University of Southern Denmark (2011), Honorary Visiting Professor at Bristol University, UK (2011), Courtesy Professor at Cornell University, U.S.A. (2011), Honorary Professor of Public Health at the Faculty of Health, Aarhus University, Denmark (2016). I am honorary member of The Danish Society for the Study of Obesity (2016).