Esben Agerbo

Staff portrait: Esben Agerbo

Esben Agerbo is associate professor and affiliated with NCRR (National Centre for Register-based Research), which is located in building 2631(K). He has agreed to answer the questions for the staff portrait of this issue of ECON News. Thank you, Esben.

How long have you been employed at the Department of Economics and Business?
I began working at CLS, i.e. Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, in 1996 on a project about psychiatric illness and labour market affiliation. In 2000 I was employed at the NCRR, i.e. National Centre for Register-based Research, which became part of the Faculty of Social Sciences in 2005.

What is your background?
At first I studied Mathematics-Economics, but after a few years I went from natural science to the other side of the University Park.  Soon I shifted to major in statistics and mathematics, as I found that economics at the Department of Economics and Business was a rather talkative discipline. However, as Peter Løchte Jørgensen said the other day in Horsens: “it takes time to mature and we will probably first get there when we retire”. Not only do I agree, but I also believe that I have learned a lot from working with economists. Later during my work at NCRR I wrote some papers on the epidemiology of suicide which I glued together and submitted as a doctoral thesis in medicine (Doctor medicinae).

What are your main areas of research?
Social epidemiology - mostly socio-economic risk factors of psychiatric disorders. A rather talkative subject.

What research projects are you working on at the moment?
My latest paper capitalises on register-based in-vitro fertility treatment, where I try to argue that this register – to some extent - can be used to identify a natural experiment to the exposure of becoming a parent (Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health). Before this, I wrote a paper to Schizophrenia Research on the genetics of schizophrenia where genetic markers (single-nucleotide polymorphism) were measured in 600k positions along the chromosome, but the genuine strength was that we had access to register information on a population-based sample. Currently, I am writing a paper on the propensity for being born in an urban area and the subsequent higher risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia – a really old topic in the field.

Are you planning to take part in any conferences or the like abroad in the near future?
Two weeks ago I went to Stockholm to present a paper entitled “Urban Risk of Schizophrenia - Selection and Early Detection”, and in the middle of December I am going to Baltimore to meet with our collaborators from the Stanley Medical Research Institute. The Stanley Medical Research Institute has supported my boss Professor Preben Bo Mortensen for many years.

Are you expecting any visiting researchers from abroad in the near future (or have you had any visitors from abroad recently)?
In the end of November, Sinead O’Neill from Cork in Ireland will be joining us for a week. We are working on a project where women, their partners and children are followed after caesarean versus vaginal birth.

Are you cooperating with researchers from other departments at AU at the moment?
Marianne Simonsen, Sarah van Mastrigt, Niels Westergård-Nielsen, Tor Eriksson, Jørn Olsen, Mogens Vestergaard, Jiong Li, Jakob Grove and Erik Parner  - just to mention people who pop up in my brain. Otherwise, through my boss Preben Bo Mortensen, I am affiliated with CIRRAU and iPSYC. And of course, I benefit daily from working with my colleagues at NCRR (the Closed Ward).

What do you do when you are not at work?
At this time of year, I really enjoy being a member of vinterbadeklubben Jomsborg, www.vinterbadning.dk (polar bear swim club). I mostly go there in the evening; i.e. 10 to 11pm. Otherwise, I sometimes run and my goal is to run once a week to work – now that it is said, I hope that the present me will commit the future me . Mostly of course, I spend time with my family: Charlotte (wife), Julius (9 years) and my daughter Frederikke (14 years) but she is currently in Texas for a high school exchange.

Please give us your suggestion for the next department staff member to be presented:
Christiane Gasse

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