Statens Serum Institut
Bjarke Feenstra is a senior research scientist in the Department of Epidemiology Research at Statens Serum Institut. He has an academic background in both biology and statistics, a Ph.D. in statistical genetics, and several years of international experience from USA and Iceland. He pursues research questions in genetic epidemiology, primarily with a focus on childhood traits and diseases. One example is a serious digestive system disease in newborns, known as pyloric stenosis. Dr. Feenstra led the two first genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of the disease followed up by functional work that suggests possible future strategies for prevention. Another recent example concerns febrile seizures after Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccination. Although generally well-tolerated, MMR vaccination almost triples the risk of febrile seizures in the second week following vaccination. In a series of GWAS analyses, Dr. Feenstra and colleagues were able to identify genetic loci associated with febrile seizures in general and specifically as adverse events of MMR vaccination. Other examples includes studies of preterm delivery, birth weight, childhood eczema, age at menarche, childhood dental health and hypospadias. In addition to the aforementioned projects, Dr. Feenstra pursues research interests in theoretical questions, such as the possibility of detecting sample mix-ups using known SNP-phenotype associations. The combination of detailed phenotype information from Danish health registers and large collections of biospecimens in the Danish National Biobank at SSI provide unique opportunities for genetic epidemiology research.