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National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

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Focus on Fellows: Randi Bertelsen

By: Sara Mishamandani

Dr. Ranadi Bertelsen
(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

An interest in epidemiology and an opportunity to conduct breakthrough research on environmental exposures and childhood asthma and allergies brought Randi Bertelsen, Ph.D., from Oslo, Norway to Research Triangle Park, North Carolina to work with NIEHS researcher Stephanie London, M.D., Dr.P.H.

“I really wanted to get more epidemiology training and I knew that some of my colleagues already had an ongoing collaboration with [London],” said Bertelsen, who is a visiting fellow in the Epidemiology Branch. “Because I knew of all the good research that comes out of NIEHS, and because I was interested in environmental risk factors for disease, NIEHS was an easy choice.”

Because asthma and allergy are chronic diseases that affect a large part of the population and all age-groups, Bertelsen hopes that learning about risk-factors of asthma and allergy may contribute to reducing the risk of developing disease. In her work with the, Environment and Childhood Asthma Study, which investigates data from the Norwegian asthma birth cohort, Bertelsen analyzed measurements of environmental chemicals in urine samples, and reported associations between urinary concentrations of triclosan, a synthetic antibacterial chemical, and allergy in Norwegian children. In her collaboration with London and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) she is studying the association between consumption of probiotic milk products and eczema, allergy, and asthma in early childhood.

Bertelsen became interested in epidemiology after working at the Cancer Registry of Norway for three years before beginning her doctoral studies. Prior to coming to NIEHS in 2011, Bertelsen received her Ph.D. from the University of Oslo in 2010, where she focused on indoor environmental exposures as risk factors for asthma and allergy in children. She then worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the NIPH.

Dr. Bertelsen took a moment to speak to Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) about Childhood Asthma and Phthalates.