Maria Skaalum Petersen
PhD, associate Professor in Health Sciences and Research Leader
Faculty of Health Sciences
Telephone +298 216695
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Description of teaching

Maria Skaalum Petersen has 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. She has been supervising both Master and Bachelor students and is currently supervising three PhD students (2019-2021)


Maria has 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, she has embarked on aging research in healthy people through the Faroese Septuagenarian cohort where a 10-year follow-up has just been completed and a wealth of data is collected. In addition to her own research projects, she is involved in, and has 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.

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

  • Petersen MS, Restorff M, Stórá T, Waldemar G, Joensen S. Trend in the incidence and prevalence of dementia in the Faroe Islands. J Alzheimers Dis, 2019, doi: 10.3233/JAD-190341
  • Louis ED, Eliasen E, Kim C, Ferrer M, Gaini S, Petersen MS. High Prevalence of Dystonia in the Faroe Islands: A Population-Based Study. 2019 Aug 20:1-5. doi: 10.1159/000502455
  • Kim CY, Petersen MS, Eliasen E, Defazio G, Greene P, Jinnah HA, de Koning-Tijssen MAJ, Louis ED. Involuntary thumb flexion on neurological examination: an unusual form of upper limb dystonia in the Faroe Islands. Tremor Other Hyperkinet Mov. 2019; 9. doi: 10.7916/tohm.v0.686
  • Petersen MS. Assessing the prevalence of undetected possible dementia in Faroese nursing homes. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2019 Jul 18:1-9. doi: 10.1159/000501607
  • Lynge E, Petersen MS, Lophaven SN. Inflammatory bowel disease and Parkinson’s disease. Gut, 2019. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2019-318958
  • Petersen MS, Lophaven SN, Lynge E, Weihe P. What does migration between the Faroe islands and Denmark tell us about the etiology of Parkinson's disease? Mov Disord. 2019 Jun;34(6):922-923. doi: 10.1002/mds.27692
  • Hammer T, Lophaven SN, Nielsen KR, Petersen MS, Munkholm P, Weihe P, Burisch J, Lynge E. Dietary risk factors for inflammatory bowel diseases in a high-risk population – results from the Faroese IBD study. United European Gastroenterol J. 2019 Aug;7(7):924-932. doi: 10.1177/2050640619852244
  • Vollstedt E, Brüggemann N, ……..Petersen MS et al. Using global team science to identify genetic Parkinson’s disease worldwide. Ann Neurol. 2019 Aug;86(2):153-157. doi: 10.1002/ana.25514
  • Eliasen E, Louis E, Ferrer M, Gaini S, Petersen MS. Prevalence of Essential Tremor in the Faroe Islands: A Population-Based Study. Neuroepidemiology. 2019;52(3-4):227-236. doi: 10.1159/000499070
  • Louis E, Ferrer M, Eliasen E, Gaini S, Petersen MS. Tremor in Normal Adults: A Population-Based Study of 1,158 Adults in the Faroe Islands. J Neurol Sci. 2019 May 15;400:169-174.
  • Veyhe AS, Andreassen J, Halling J, Grandjean P, Petersen MS, Weihe P. "Prevalence of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes in two non-random populations agen 44-77 years in the Faroe Islands". J Clin Transl Endocrinol. 2019 Mar 20;16:100187
  • Petersen MS, Lophaven SN, Lynge E, Weihe P. What does migration between the Faroe Islands and Denmark tell us about the etiology of Parkinson's disease? Mov Disord. 2019 Apr 9. doi: 10.1002/mds.27692
  • Petersen MS, Halling J, Jørgensen N, Nielsen F, Grandjean P, Jensen TK, Weihe P. Reproductive Function in a Population of Young Faroese Men with Elevated Exposure to Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and Perfluorinated Alkylate Substances (PFAS). Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Aug 30;15(9). pii: E1880. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15091880
  • Petersen MS, Debes F, Grandjean P, Weihe P. Gender differences in cognitive performance and health status in the Faroese Septuagenarians cohort. Eur J Public Health. 2018 Jul 18. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cky133
  • Crooks S, Bech S, Halling J, Christiansen D, Petersen MS. Carnitine levels and mutations in the SLC22A5 gene in Faroes patients with Parkinson's disease. Neurosci Lett. 2018;675:116-119. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2018.03.064
  • Veyhe AS, Andreassen J, Halling J, Grandjean P, Petersen MS, Weihe P. Prevalence of type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes in the Faroe Islands. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2018;140:162-173. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2018.03.036
  • Timmermann CA, Choi A, Petersen MS, Nielsen F, Budtz-Jørgensen E, Weihe P, Grandjean P. Secondary Sex Ratio in Relation to Exposures to Polychlorinated Biphenyls, Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene, and Methylmercury. Int J Circumpolar Health 2017;76(1):1406234. doi: 10.1080/22423982.2017.1406234
  • Timmermann CA, Budtz-Jørgensen E, Petersen MS, Weihe P, Steuerwald U, Nielsen F, Jensen TK, Grandjean P. Shorter duration of breastfeeding at elevated exposures to perfluoroalkyl substances. Reprod Toxicol. 2017;68:164-170. doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2016.07.010
  • Timmermann CA, Budtz-Jørgensen E, Jensen TK, Osuna CE, Petersen MS, Steuerwald U, Nielsen F, Poulsen LK, Weihe P, Grandjean P. Association between perfluoroalkyl substance exposure and asthma and allergic disease in children as modified by MMR vaccination. J Immunotoxicol. 2017;14(1):39-49
  • Gustavsson E, Trinh J, McKenzie M, Bortnick S, Petersen MS, Farrer MJ, Aasly J. Genetic Identification in Early-Onset Parkinsonism among Norwegian Patients. Mov Disord Clin Pract 2017 23;4(4):499-508, doi:10.1002/mdc3.12501
  • Weihe P, Debes F, Halling J, Petersen MS, Muckle G, Odland JØ, Dudarev A, Ayotte P, Dewailly É, Grandjean P, Bonefeld-Jørgensen E. Health effects associated with measured levels of contaminants in the Arctic. Int J Circumpolar Health. 2016;75:33805.
  • Weihe P, Bjerregaard P, Bonefeld-Jørgensen E, Dudarev A, Halling J, Hansen S, Muckle G, Nøst T, Odland JØ, Petersen MS, Rautio A, Veyhe AS, Wennberg M, Bergdahl I. Overview of ongoing cohort and dietary studies in the Arctic. Int J Circumpolar Health. 2016;75(1):33803.
  • Timmermann CA, Budtz-Jørgensen E, Petersen MS, Weihe P, Steuerwald U, Nielsen F, Jensen TK, Grandjean P. Shorter duration of breastfeeding at elevated exposures to perfluoroalkyl substances. Reprod Toxicol. 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2016.07.010
  • Dalgård C, Petersen MS, Steuerwald U, Weihe P, Grandjean P.Umbilical Cord Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations and Relation to Birthweight, Head Circumference and Infant Length at Age 14 Days. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2016;30(3):238-45
  • Gustavsson EK, Trinh J, Guella I, Szu-Tu C, Khinda J, Lin C, Wu R, Stoessl J, Appel-Cresswell S, McKeown M, Rajput A, Rajput A, Petersen MS, Jeon BJ, Aasly J, Farrer MJ. DCTN1 p.K56R in progressive supranuclear palsy. Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2016;28: 56-61
  • Perry MJ, Young HA, Grandjean P, Halling J, Petersen MS, Martenies SE, Karimi P, Weihe P. Sperm aneuploidy in men with elevated lifetime exposure to Dichlorodiphenyldichloro¬ethylene (DDE) and Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) pollutants. Environ Health Perspect 2016; 124(7): 951-6.
  • Trinh J, Guella I, McKenzie M, Gustavsson EK, Szu-Tu C, Petersen MS, Rajput A, Rajput AH, McKeown M, Jeon BS, Aasly JO, Bardien S, Farrer MJ. Novel LRRK2 mutations in Parkinsonism. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2015;21(9):1119-21
  • Petersen MS, Guella I, Bech S, Gustavsson E, Farrer, MJ. Parkinson’s disease, genetic variability and the Faroe Islands. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2015;21:75-78.
  • Petersen MS, Bech S, Nosova E, Aasly J, Farrer MJ. Familial aggregation of Parkinson disease in the Faroe Islands. Mov Disord 2015;30(4):538-44.
  • Petersen MS , Halling J, Weihe P, Jensen TK, Grandjean P, Nielsen F, Jørgensen N. Spermatogenic capacity in fertile men with elevated exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls. Envion Res. 2015;138:345-351
  • Zugna D, Galassi C, Annesi-Maesano I, Baïz N, Barros H, Mikel Basterrechea M, Correia S, Duijts L, Esplugues A, Fantini MP, Forastiere F, Gascon M, Gori D, Inskip H, Larsen PS, Mommers M, Andersen AMN, Penders J, Petersen MS, Pike K, Porta D, der Voort AS, Steuerwald U, Sunyer J, Torrent M, Vrijheid M, Richiardi L, Rusconi F. Maternal Complications in Pregnancy and Wheezing in Early Childhood. A pooled analysis of Fourteen Birth Cohorts. Int J Epidemiol Int J Epidemiol. 2015;44(1):199-208.
  • Casas M, Nieuwenhuijsen M, Martínez D, Ballester F, Basagaña X, Basterrechea M, Chatzi L, Chevrier C, Eggesbø M, Fernandez MF, Govarts E, Guxens M, Grimalt JO, Hertz-Picciotto I, Iszatt N, Kasper-Sonnenberg M, Kiviranta H, Kogevinas M, Palkovicova L, Ranft U, Schoeters G, Patelarou E, Petersen MS, Torrent M, Trnovec T, Valvi D, Toft GV, Weihe P, Weisglas-Kuperus N, Wilhelm M, Wittsiepe J, Vrijheid M, Bonde JP. Prenatal exposure to PCB-153, p,p'-DDE and birth outcomes in 9000 mother-child pairs: Exposure-response relationship and effect modifiers. Environ Int. 2014;74C:23-31.
  • Kvist L, Giwercman A, Weihe P, Kold Jensen T, Grandjean P, Halling J, Skaalum Petersen M, Lundberg Giwercman. Exposure to persistent organic pollutants and sperm sex chromosome ratio in men from the Faroe Islands. Environ Int. 2014;73:359-64
  • Petersen MS, Bech S, Christiansen DH, Schmedes AV, Halling J. The role of vitamin D levels and vitamin D receptor polymorphism on Parkinson's disease in the Faroe Islands. Neurosci Lett. 2014; 21;561:74-9
  • aHalling J, Petersen MS, Jørgensern N, Jensen TK, Grandjean P, Weihe P. Semen quality and reproductive hormones in Faroese men – a cross-sectional population-based study of 481 men. BMJ Open. 2013 Mar 1;3(3) (aHalling J and Petersen MS contributed equally to the writing of this article).
  • Govarts E, Nieuwenhuijsen M, Schoeters G, Ballester F, Bloemen K, de Boer M, Chevrier C, Eggesbø M, Guxens M, Krämer U, Legler J, Martínez D, Palkovicova L, Patelarou E, Ranft U, Rautio A, Petersen MS, Slama R, Stigum H, Toft G, Trnovec T, Vandentorren S, Weihe P, Kuperus NW, Wilhelm M, Wittsiepe J, Bonde JP; OBELIX; ENRIECO. Birth weight and prenatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE): a meta-analysis within 12 European Birth Cohorts. Environ Health Perspect 2012;120(2):162-70
  • Vrijheid M, Casas M, Bergström A, Carmichael A, Cordier S, Eggesbø M, Eller E, Fantini MP, Fernández MF, Fernández-Somoano A, Gehring U, Grazuleviciene R, Hohmann C, Karvonen AM, Keil T, Kogevinas M, Koppen G, Krämer U, Kuehni CE, Magnus P, Majewska R, Andersen AM, Patelarou E, Petersen MS, Pierik FH, Polanska K, Porta D, Richiardi L, Santos AC, Slama R, Sram RJ, Thijs C, Tischer C, Toft G, Trnovec T, Vandentorren S, Vrijkotte TG, Wilhelm M, Wright J, Nieuwenhuijsen M. European birth cohorts for environmental health research. Environ Health Perspect. 2012;120(1):29-37
  • Dalgård C, Petersen MS, Weihe P, Grandjean P. Vitamin D status in relation to glucose metabolism and type 2 diabetes in septuagenarians. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(6):1284-8..
  • Grandjean P, Henriksen JE, Choi AL, Petersen MS, Dalgård C, Nielsen F, Weihe P. Marine food pollutants as a risk factor for hypoinsulinemia and type 2 diabetes. Epidemiology. 2011:22(3):410-7.
  • Pedersen RS, Brasch-Andersen C, Sim SC, Bergmann TK, Halling J, Petersen MS, Weihe P, Edvardsen H, Kristensen VN, Brøsen K, Ingelman-Sundberg M. Linkage disequilibrium between the CYP2C19*17 allele and wildtype CYP2C8 and CYP2C9 alleles: identification of CYP2C haplotypes in healthy Nordic populations. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2010;66(12):1199-205.
  • Dalgård C, Petersen MS, Schmedes AV, Brandslund I, Weihe P, Grandjean P. High latitude and marine diet: vitamin D status in elderly Faroese. Br J Nutr. 2010;104(6):914-8.
  • Choi A, Weihe P, Budtz-Jørgensen E, Jørgensen PJ, Salonen JT, Tuomainen T-P, Murata K, Nielsen HP, Petersen MS, Askham J, Grandjean P. Metlylmercury exposure and adverse cardiovascular effects in Faroese whalingmen. Environ Health Persp. 2009;117:367-72
  • Petersen MS, Choi A, Weihe P, Grandjean P. Increased prenatal exposure to methylmercury does not affect the risk of Parkinson's disease. Neurotoxicology. 2008;29:591-5
  • Petersen MS, Halling J, Bech S, Wermuth L, Nielsen F, Jørgensen PJ, Weihe P, Grandjean P. Impact of dietary exposure to food contaminants on the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Neurotoxicology. 2008;29:584-90
  • aHalling J, Petersen MS, Weihe P, Brosen K, Grandjean P. Genetic predisposition to Parkinson’s disease: CYP2D6 and HFE in the Faroe Islands. Pharmacogenet Genomics. 2008;18:209-12 (aHalling J and Petersen MS contributed equally to the writing of this article)
  • Wermuth L, Bech S, Petersen MS, Joensen P, Weihe P, Grandjean P. Prevalence and Incidence of Parkinson's Disease in the Faroe Islands. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica 2008;18:126-31
  • Petersen MS, Halling J, Damkier P, Nielsen F, Weihe P, Brøsen K, Grandjean P. Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) induction of CYP3A4 enzyme activity in healthy Faroese adults. TAAP 2007;224:202-6
  • Petersen MS, Halling J, Damkier P, Nielsen F, Grandjean P, Weihe P, Brosen, K. Caffeine N3-demethylation (CYP1A2) in a population with an increased exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls. Eur. J. Clin. Pharmacol. 2006;62:1041-48.
  • Halling J, Petersen MS, Damkier P, Nielsen F, Grandjean P, Weihe P, Lundgren S, Lundblad MA, Brøsen K. Polymorphism of CYP2D6, CYP2C19, CYP2C9 and CYP2C8 in the Faroese population. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 2005;61:491-7

2019-present: Head of Centre of Health Science, University of the Faroe Islands

2018: Visiting scientist. Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles

2017-present: Associate professor, Centre of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Faroe Islands

2017-present: Senior scientist, Dept. of Occupational Medicine and Public Health, The Faroese Hospital System, Faroe Islands

2015 -2017: Senior post doc. Dept. of Occupational Medicine and Public Health, The Faroese Hospital System

2014: Visiting scientist. Centre for Applied Neurogenetics, University of British Columbia, Canada

2011 - 2014: Post doc. Dept. of Occupational Medicine and Public Health, The Faroese Hospital System and affiliated to Dept. of Environmental Medicine, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark

2010 - 2015: Faroese Program Committee member in Health, FP7/Horizon 2020. The Faroese Research Council (10 %)

2006: Visiting scientist. Dept. of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, USA


Maria has given several oral and poster presentations at international scientific conferences around the world. She has also engaged in public knowledge exchange within Faroese society by giving public presentations and interviews to the press, both newspapers, television and radio, about research projects and results.

Administrative responsibilities

Maria has gained significant administrative experience in her role as Head of the Centre of Health Sciences. Since 2015, she has been principal investigator and project manager on a number of research projects and has been responsible for staff, including research assistants, graduate students and volunteers at the Department of Occupational Medicine and Public Health.

Research grants

Maria has obtained many research grants from local and international funding bodies since 2005. During the last five years she has obtained grants as principal investigator for approximately 1 million euros.

Maria has been grant reviewer for the Italian Ministry of Health - applied clinical and biomedical research. She serves as review Editor the Frontiers in Reproductive Epidemiology and has served as peer reviewer for a number of international journals including Scientific Report, Environmental Health, Chemosphere, Neuroscience Letters, Parkinsonism & Related disorders, Parkinson's Disease, Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology and Environmental Science & Technology.

Over the years, Maria has managed to build up a substantial international network with renowned scientist from e.g. University of British Columbia, Canada; University of California, Los Angeles and Yale University, USA; University of Southern Denmark and University of Copenhagen, Denmark; University of Science and Technology, Norway. Furthermore, she is member of following consortia: Cohort Studies of Memory in an International Consortium (COSMIC); Genetic Epidemiology of Parkinson's disease consortia (GEOPD); ALS Consortium of Epidemiologic Studies and Lewy body dementia Consortium.

She has an active collaboration with the Faroese Alzheimer’s Association, the Faroese Parkinson Association as well as the Board for the Elderly.