Maria Skaalum Petersen
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Personal profile

Personal profile

I have served as the principal investigator on many scientific projects in the Faroe Islands and has been successful in attracting funding to research projects. Her initial work focused on the epidemiology of environmental exposures on human health and disease risk. Subsequently, she has also focused on the rich genealogy of the Faroese population, and how genetics might contribute to disease susceptibility, progression and/or response to treatment, especially with focus on Parkinson’s disease, and in recent years Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and essential tremor. Recently, I have embarked on aging research in healthy people through the Faroese Septuagenarian cohort where a 10-year follow-up has been completed and a wealth of data is collected. Futher, in Sep 2021 I initiated a study among nonagenarians assessing their health and medication use. In addition to my own research projects, I am involved in, and have a comprehensive knowledge of, the Faroese child cohorts and other cohorts at the Department of Occupational Medicine and Public Health, and continues to work on the effects of environmental exposure at different time points on different health outcomes, mainly male reproduction. The last 1½ year, I have also been involved in COVID-19 research in the Faroe Islands.

My work takes a holistic approach to gather and integrate Faroese data on human health, epidemiology, environmental exposures and genetics. Thus, my scientific focus areas include neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, essential tremor), healthy aging, epidemiology, environmental epidemiology, genetics, gene-environment interactions, pharmacology, COVID-19 and cancer.


I have been teaching at Bachelor and Master level at the University of Southern Denmark and the University of the Faroe Islands. The topics include pharmacology, genetics, toxicology, research ethics, neurodegenerative diseases, and genetic research. I have been supervising more than 10 master students and I am currently supervising three PhD students (2019-2021)

I have developed and organizing a PhD course ‘R for statistics - basic course in the statistical program R and R Studio’ and a master course ‘Neurodegenerative diseases’. 


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Gene-environment interaction: PCB and mercury exposure, P450 enzymes and Parkinson’s disease in the Faroe Islands, University of Southern Denmark

May 2004Oct 2008

Award Date: 6 Mar 2009

Master, Drug metabolism among Faroese regarding the enzyme activity of CYP2D6 and CYP2C19, The Danish University of Pharmaceutical Sciences

1 Sept 199830 Jan 2004

Award Date: 30 Jan 2004

External positions

Senior researcher , Department of Occupational Medicine and Public Heath

Jan 2017 → …

Post doc, Department of Occupational Medicine and Public Heath

Aug 2011Dec 2014

Researcher, Department of Occupational Medicine and Public Heath

Aug 20082011


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