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Centre For Arctic Health

Centre for Arctic Health (CAH)

Centre Director
Professor Eva C. Bonefeld-Jørgensen
Phone: +45 8716 8012

The Centre for Arctic Health is located at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Public Health, University of Aarhus, Bartholins Allé 2, building 1260, DK-8000 Aarhus and has representatives at the Primary Health Care Clinic in Nuuk and at the Greenland Institute of National Resources in Nuuk.

The aim of the Centre for Arctic Health is:

  • To undertake and strengthen the research within the field of Arctic Health
  • To undertake and strengthen the collaboration between national and international Arctic research institutes and organizations
  • To strengthen the collaboration in circumpolar research on Arctic Environmental Medicine and Arctic Health
  • To participate in collaborative programmes within the fields of Environmental and Health research in the Arctic
  • To participate in circumpolar Arctic Health education programmes

The Centre for Arctic Health is the organisational body for the scientific and administrative collaborators who in accordance with the aims of the Centre undertake research and education together with related activities.

The Centre for Arctic Health is managed by a director appointed by the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences. The Centre has an advisory board appointed by:

  • The Department of Public Health, Aarhus University
  • Greenland Self-Government, The Directorate of Health
  • The Health Department of the Faeroe Islands
  • The Greenlandic Medical Society
  • The National Institute of Public Health, Copenhagen University
  • The Faculty of Health Sciences, Aarhus University

The functions of the Centre for Arctic Health 

The research activities associated with the Centre for Arctic Health are of an epidemiological character:

  1. Responsible for the established ‘Biological Bank for Greenlandic samples’ (daily operations and transfer of materials) in cooperation with a steering committee with representatives from The Department of Public Health and The Faculty of Health Sciences, Aarhus University; The Greenland self-Government, The Directorate of Health; The Country Doctor for Greenland.
  2. Monitoring and assessment of the effect of persistent environmental contaminants on humans in Greenland.
  3. Establishment of an Inuit mother and child cohort in Greenland
  4. Time trends and geographical variations of environmental factors such as chemicals, metals and trace elements in humans.
  5. Assessment of human contaminant burden versus lifestyle factors, e.g. diet and smoking
  6. Contaminant burden and neonatal sex ratio
  7. Intake of long chained marine fatty acids in relation to obesity, diabetes and atherosclerosis
  8. Assessment of human contaminant burden and the risk of reproductive anomalies and breast cancer
  9. Research in the Cellular and Molecular basic mechanisms behind the toxicology of environmental contaminants
  10. Endocrine disrupting potentials of environmental contaminants

Circumpolar memberships of The Centre for Arctic Health

  • The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) for human health: “The Human Health Assessment Group” (HHAG).
  • The Arctic Health & Well Being Network
  • Planning group for the PhD program on Arctic Health & Well Being
  • The International Network for Circumpolar Health Research (INCHR)
  • The Nordforsk Network for Research on Fluorinated Compounds
  • The Nordic Network Investigation of use and emission of per- and polyfluorinated substances in the Nordic countries

Research and Education

The Centre for Arctic Health is responsible for the master course in Arctic Medicine for medical students at the University of Aarhus, and summer school courses for Arctic PhD students. There are currently 3 PhD students attached to the Centre for Arctic Health.  An agreement of co-operation between the Centre and the Master of Public Health Program, AU has been made with an annual intake of 2-3 students from Greenland to ensure a Greenlandic relevant study.

The duties of the Centre for Arctic Health 

  • Coordinator for the cross disciplinary Arctic Health Research at Aarhus University
  • Board member of the cross faculty “Arctic Research Centre” (ARC) at Aarhus University
  • Implementation of the AMAP Human Health Program in Greenland
  • Coordinator for the HHAG implementation of:
    1. The circumpolar human xenobiotica-effect program
    2. Integration of the AMAP discipline data for humans, marine, terrestrial and atmospheric environment in Greenland
    3. Standardization of diet investigation program in Greenland

Perspective for future development: 2008-2015

With the transition from the second to the third phase of AMAP at the end of 2002 an increasing importance of effect-related studies in the Arctic environment and population is anticipated. Recently, the report of the third phase of AMAP was published in July 2009. The report assessment indicates the importance of effect and genetic related studies in the Arctic. Thus the Centre for Arctic Health will play an important role as co-coordinator in this collaboration nationally and international.

There will be a continuation of the collaboration with other Arctic health projects such as the Arctic Health & Well Being program, Oulu, Finland; the Children and Youth in the North study managed by Canada Health under the Arctic Council; the WHO/UNEP initiative “Health in the Arctic” and the PTS (Persistent Toxic Substances) project in Russia.

The Centre for Arctic Health is and will be active in the emerging climate change problems with respect to effects on human health (

In order to strengthen the close bonds between society in Greenland and the Centre for Arctic Health research at Aarhus University, contact has been established at the ‘Dronning Ingrid’s Hospital’ in Nuuk, Greenland including the Department of Gynaecology, the Primary Health Care Clinic and the Natural Science Institute. The aim is to strengthen the local environmental research milieu, and with time to establish the possibility for expert guidance of PhD students working in Greenland.

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Revised 2013.03.11