[Call for Applicants] Two Epidemiological PhD Projects

May 1, 2024

The National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark is looking for applicants to two fully financed PhD student positions. The positions are to be filled from May 1st, 2024 and September 1st, 2024, or at the earliest convenient date thereafter. 

The PhD projects are funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark and the University of Southern Denmark and is part of an overarching project entitled ‘Breastfeeding and environmental chemicals. Can and should all mothers breastfeed’. The project is described here.

PhD project 1: Maternal exposure to the persistent chemicals per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been consistently associated with shorter duration of breastfeeding and other endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have been linked to impaired mammary gland development in rodents, but most EDCs have never been examined in relation to breastfeeding, and mixture effects have not been studied. Using previously collected data based on questionnaires and biological samples from the Danish National Birth cohort and the American Health Outcomes and Measures of the Environment (HOME) study, the aim of the project is to identify individual EDCs and EDC mixtures that affect women’s ability to breastfeed.

PhD project 2: Gut microbiota plays a pivotal role in the maturation of the immune system in the first years of life, and breastfeeding has a major impact on the gut microbiota composition. However, breastmilk also contains PFAS, and PFAS might affect the gut microbiota. The aim of this project is thus to use previously collected data from questionnaires and biological samples in the Norwegian Microbiota (NoMIC) study to detect short and long term effects on child gut microbiota associated with breastmilk PFAS concentrations and breastfeeding quantity. 

Both PhD students will be part of the research environment at the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH, University of Southern Denmark) located in central Copenhagen, and the projects will be conducted in close collaboration with researchers in United States, Norway, Sweden as well as other Danish research institutions. Research stays at our collaborating institutions will be encouraged.

The PhD students will be part of the research group “Epidemiology and interventions” with researchers from different educational backgrounds e.g. biology, medicine, and public health. We have a broad research field, which includes studies on vaccines, alcohol, and environmental health, and we have a strong tradition for collaboration and support between peers. 

With the PhD projects we wish to train excellent young researchers in skills not only related to environmental epidemiology but also project management and other transferable skills that we consider requirements to be a future top researcher. You will become part of active learning environments, and you will obtain an extensive academic knowledge e.g. by participating in relevant PhD courses. In addition to your own PhD project, you can expect to be involved in other projects across the department as well as teaching activities at the University of Southern Denmark.

The ideal candidate will have demonstrated an interest in research within epidemiology, environmental medicine and/or microbiology, and experience with programming using statistical software (such as Stata or R) is considered a strength but not a requirement. A Master’s degree is a precondition for enrollment as a PhD student at a Danish University, and fluent English (both written and spoken) is required.

The positions are fixed-term and are three years of duration from the date on which the successful candidate takes up his or her position to complete the PhD thesis.


For questions and clarification regarding the PhD positions, please contact:

Associate professor Amalie Timmermann
National Institute of Public Health
University of southern Denmark
Phone: +45 65 50 37 43 
Email: [email protected]


View additional information and apply here.