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Personal profile


Curriculum Vitae

Arja R. Aro

Contact information: Unit for Health Promotion Research, SDU, Niels Bohrsvej 9, 6700 Esbjerg, Denmark. www.healthpromotion.sdu.dk.
Academic degrees:
Ph.D. in Psychology 1996, (Turku University, Finland); D.Sc. in Health Services Research, 2000 (Netherlands Institute of Health Sciences /Erasmus University). 

Present position(s):

Professor of Public Health, Unit for Health Promotion Research, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark (SDU); retired as of 1 July 2019, cont. as Guest Researcher.

Professor of Public Health, Head (Forskningsleder), Unit for Health Promotion Research, Institute of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark (SDU) as of 1 August 2005 - 31 December 2015.
Adjunct Professor (Docent), Turku University, Finland as of May 2000.

Work experience:

Jan 2016 onwards:
Professor, Unit for Health Promotion Research.

Aug 2005-Dec 2015 : Professor, Head of the unit for Health Promotion Research.As from Jan 2012 - Aug 2015  also head of CMSS, Centre of Maritime Health and Society at SDU.

1992-2005: Senior Researcher, Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland. 

During the above mentioned position: 2001-2003: (part-time) Scientific Researcher, Research Coordinator, Department of Public Health, ErasmusMC, Rotterdam, Netherlands; 

Sept-Dec 2000: Visiting Professor, Academic Medical Center, Department of Social Medicine, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands; 

Nov-Dec 1999: Visiting Lecturer in Australia: Universities in Melbourne, Shepparton, Newcastle; 

1996-1997: Visiting Researcher, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Leiden University, Netherlands.
1988-1992: Researcher, Department of Mental Health, National Public Health Institute; 1985-1988: Social and Rehabilitation Secretary, Finnish Heart Association; 

1982-1985: Research Assistant, Policlinic of Psychiatry, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland; 

1976-1981: Daycare Center Supervisor, Reporter, Playgroup leader, in Khamis Mushayt, Saudi-Arabia; 1970’s: summer jobs as newspaper reporter, Finland.
Committee and expert tasks:

2011-2014: Evaluation Panel Member, Swedish Research Council for Work Life and Social Sciences; 
2007-2009: Evaluation Panel Member and Chair (2009), Swedish Research Council Medicine/Public Health and Nursing Science; 2004-2010: Expert Evaluator, Finnish Cancer Society, Psychosocial and Nursing research; 
1999 onwards (x16): Expert Evaluator for European Union framework programs; 
1992 onwards annually: Evaluator, International Union Against Cancer, Technology Transfer, & American Cancer Society; 
2004-2008: Expert, Finnish Academy Program on Health Services Research; 2005: Member, National Expert Group on Quality Recommendations for Health Promotion, Finland; 
2003-2004: Temporary Advisor, WHO Adherence Program and Network;
2004: Panel Member, National Consensus Meeting on Hormone Replace Therapy, Finland; 
2003: Expert, IARC (International Union Against Cancer) Consultation Process on Research in Behavioural and Social Sciences to Improve Cancer Control and Care - A strategy development. 
2004:Consultancy, evaluation and reviewer tasks in various international and national (funding) agencies, incl. UK Department of Health (pandemic preparedness); EURORDIS (European Rare Diseases Organisation: consultant in Delphi method to evaluate Centres of Expertise); Belgian Science Policy (Social determinants of health); ZonMW (The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development: several programmes, including epidemic control, life style and disease prevention programmes, mental health, communication campaign on HPV vaccination); Netherlands Science Foundation; Qatar National Research Fund (several programmes, including smoking, health education); Estonian Research Council National; Finnish Genetic Screening working group; plus several projects, programs, guidelines, groups.


2009 onwards: Coordinator EIRA (Evidence in Research and Action) Global Network (from Oct 2011 EIRA is merged with the REPOPA project, see later for projects); 

2005 onwards: Member, Public Health Genomics (EU) Network (PHGEN); 

2007 onwards: Advisory Group Member, Circumpolar Health Network; 

2007 onwards: Member, Nordic Health Promotion Network. 

Academic responsibilities:

Chair or member, several review committees (international, national, within SDU) for professors and other academic positions. Post graduate level: supervisor, opponent, reviewer, advisory committee member of several PhD and other prost graduate students in Finland, Sweden, Germany, Denmark (x 20); currently supervising five ongoing PhD theses. Graduate level: supervisor annually of 4-6 MSc and for 2-5 BSc students, several internship students. 

Current teaching activities at SDU

An international module ‘Public Health Ethics’; and lecturing in several other modules incl. Public Health in the 21st century, and Global Health Research; lecturing also at Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences, Finland. Several invited lectures, plenary and keynote lectures at scientific international and national conferences worldwide. 

Responsibilities in scientific organizations: 

2002-2010: International Society of Behavioral Medicine (ISBM):  

2008– 2010: Board Member; Chair, International Collaborative Studies Committee; 

2007-2008: Chair, Nominations Committee; 2002-2006: Chair, Education and Training Committee; 

2001-2002: Co-Chair, Scientific Program Committee; European Public Health Association (EUPHA):

2001-2006: Member, Scientific Committee; 

2003–2006: Member, Governing Council; World Federation of Public Health Associations: 

2005–2006: Member, Program Planning Committee; 

2004: Chair, Fellowship Committee; 

2000-2001: Chair, Finnish Society of Social Medicine; 

1994-1998: National Representative, European Health Psychology Society.

Editorial responsibilities:

2011 onwards: Editorial Board Member: journal Public Health Genomics;
2010 onwards: Associate Editor: journal Translational Behavioral Medicine; 

2007-2008: Guest Editor, special issue on Risk perception and emerging epidemic diseases, International Journal of Behavioral Medicine; 

2002-2006: Co-Editor, Psychology and Health; 

1998-2006: Member, Editorial Board, Patient Education and Counseling. Regular reviewer tasks for scientific journals in the fields: public health, cancer (prevention), screening, health promotion, epidemiology, internal medicine, health psychology, quality of life, and social medicine about 15 times annually. 


Total of 166 publications, including 112 peer reviewed papers, (excluding conference abstracts often published in peer review journals). In addition, several articles for lay people, and material for patients (not listed). The publications belong to four main categories: public health/health promotion and disease prevention; lay perception of health and illness; evaluation of screening programs; and quality of life measurement.
Research focus areas:

At present: evidence-informed health promotion and public health; more specifically: knowledge transfer/exchange between research, practice and policy making. Further: implementation of public health genomic information and technology – user perspective. Previously: risk communication policies especially in controlling emerging epidemics. Earlier: cancer screening and prevention; and quality of life measurement in different disease groups. Overall, my overarching interest is the interface of research knowledge/health technology/health service/ and citizen/lay/user perspective. 


Previously EU grants received as co-applicant in the areas: Prenatal screening; and Getting Evidence into Practice in Health Promotion; Public Health Genomics I; SARSControl; and several Finnish grants as PI and co-applicant mainly in the area of cancer screening.
Currently funding as the main applicant and project coordinator of REPOPA (Research into Policy to enhance Physical Activity), EC-funded, FP7 Research project of 7 countries, Oct 2011-September 2016; co-applicant in the EU-funded projects: Risk assessment and policy making; Public Health Genomics II; and Healthy Regions; and in the Finnish grants: Quality of Life in Breast Cancer (PI); and Menopause and life style (co-applicant); Danish grants: Psychosocial factors and quality of life in individualization of anticoagulant therapy, Food and Health Program, Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation 2008-2011; Main applicant: Development and validation of web tools to enhance evidence-based decision making in healthy lifestyle choices (with special emphasis to develop a module on evidence-based decision making for local, regional and national stakeholders) –a network grant (2011) from the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. The US partner is Northwestern University, Chicago. 

Leadership experience:
Since August 2005 Head/Research leader (forskningsleder) of the Unit for Health Promotion Research, SDU, with 20+ staff members from different cultural and disciplinary backgrounds. Project leadership experience comes from several EU grants as coordinator; work package leader; as PI in large scale national projects in Finland; as research group leader since 1990. In addition, tasks in international scientific organizations have provided international leadership experience.As from January 2012 head of CMSS, Centre of Maritime Health and Society at SDU.

Research areas

Research areas:

- Evidence-informed health promotion and public health
- Lay/citizen perspectives in health and health care
- Public health genomics 

- Public health and psychosocial aspects of health screening


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