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Christine Stabell Benn appointed Professor in Global Health at University of Southern Denmark

Starting April 15th 2013, Christine Stabell Benn has been appointed both consultant at the Bandim Health Project, Statens Serum Institute, and Clinical Professor in Global Health at the research unit ‘OPEN’ at the Institute of Clinical Research at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) and Odense University Hospital (OUH).

Christine Stabell Benn (44), is researching healthcare for children in low-income countries, and is Head of the Bandim Health Project's Danish department at Statens Serum Institut.

Christine Stabell Benn

Christine Stabell Benn has been appointed Clinical Professor in Global Health at the research unit ‘OPEN’ at the University of Southern Denmark and Odense University Hospital.

In addition to the department in Denmark, the Bandim Health Project consists of a large research station with more than 150 employees in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. It is led by Peter Aaby, anthropologist and adjunct professor at SDU. In Guinea-Bissau, a population of over a hundred thousand is followed with regular household visits, and information on hospitals and health centers is also collected. These data form the basis for a series of studies aimed at improving health in Guinea-Bissau and globally. Research is concentrated on programs to benefit child health, but the people behind the Bandim Health Project also research into tuberculosis, malaria, HIV / AIDS and diabetes and more.

"The appointment of Christine Stabell Benn as a Professor in Global Health, is part of a larger effort in this area of ​​research. Christine Stabell Benn and her colleagues at the Bandim Health Project will strengthen research in this area, but we also hope that the group can improve the education of medical students and newly qualified physicians both in Odense and during research and study tours in Guinea Bissau "says Professor Kim Brixen, leader of the Institute of Clinical Research, SDU.

In 2012, along with partners in Danish hospitals and universities at home and abroad, the Bandim Health Project received one of the coveted center grants from the Danish National Research Foundation to establish the Research Center for Vitamins and Vaccines, CVIVA. CVIVA examines the extent to which health interventions such as vaccines and vitamins have non-specific as well as specific effects on infections and malnutrition. Preliminary studies suggest that our current understanding of the immune system is too simple; and that the immune system can ‘learn’ and be ‘trained’ a more general lesson by vaccines and vitamins, and this ‘training’ may be different for the two sexes. The ultimate consequence could be that we need to treat boys and girls differently.

"We are pleased to welcome Christine Stabell Benn as a professor at our research unit OPEN - ie. Odense Patient Data Exploratory Network ", says Henrik Villadsen from OUH.”This interdisciplinary research unit has been set up to facilitate the work of researchers in establishing clinical cohorts and population studies, and subsequently helping with follow-up in national registers. The name "OPEN" was carefully chosen to signal that the researchers at OUH want to collaborate with researchers around the world. Christine Stabell Benn's specific background as a researcher in Denmark and Africa fits well within this context. We see great potential for closer cooperation between our new professor and the other teams in epidemiology and immunology at OUH, SDU and the Region of Southern Denmark "says Henrik Villadsen.

Christine Stabell Benn grew up in Odense, Denmark. As a medical student in Aarhus, she had the idea of studying the importance of vitamin A supplementation to the immune response to measles vaccine. Christine graduated from the University of Copenhagen in 1996 and began her medical career with rotation in what was then called Copenhagen County. Subsequently, she was taken on as a PhD student at Statens Serum Institut. In 2003, she presented her PhD thesis on epidemiological risk factors for allergy among children. She has since been a post-doc in the Department for Infectious Diseases at the National Hospital, and at the Bandim Health Project, Statens Serum Institut. She has also worked at Stanford University. In 2009, she was awarded the DFF Research Grant for Female Research Leaders. In 2010 she received an ERC Starting Grant. In 2011, she defended her doctoral thesis on the effect of vitamin A on vaccines. In 2012, she became Senior Consultant and head of the Bandim Health Project, Statens Serum Institut as well as Center Leader at the Research Center for Vitamins and Vaccines.

"We are pleased to cooperate with SDU and OUH," says Mads Melbye, Sector Director at Statens Serum Institut. He continues: " SDU have made an important contribution to epidemiology and demography. Both OUH and SDU have also expanded their clinical research significantly in recent years. Our institutions therefore have many common interests, and the appointment of Christine Stabell Benn at SDU will both lead to the recruitment of a number of joint PhD students, and to a strengthened research effort ".

Christine Stabell Benn started out with epidemiological research, but along the way gathered extensive knowledge into immunological research as well, and has a large network of colleagues in both areas. This has led to more than 120 publications in international scientific journals, and she has been invited to hold many presentations and lectures both in Denmark and internationally.

Christine Stabell Benn is the founder of the consortium ‘Optimmunize’, which unites more than 20 of the world's leading immunologists in the field of vitamin and vaccine immunology as well as sex-differences in immunity. She has served on the board of the Danish Network of International Health. When it was dissolved, she co-founded the global think tank ‘Global Health Minders’. Christine Stabell Benn is currently an expert member of the Working Groups on Vitamin A and Vaccines at the National Institute of Health, USA, and the WHO.

For more information, please contact: Christine Stabell Benn; +45 32 68 83 54;

Kim Brixen, Head of Department, Institute of Clinical Medicine; +45 51 20 97 87;

Henrik Villadsen, Medical Director, Odense University Hospital; +45 28 95 27 28;

Mads Melbye, Sector Director, Statens Serum Institut;, +45 32 68 31 63; E-mail:

 

Last revised 17 April 2013

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