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Sara Hägg

Assistant professor

About me

Associate Professor (Docent) in molecular epidemiology at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet.


  • PhD in Computational Biology, Linköping University, 2009
  • MSc in Molecular Biology, Stockholm University, 2003
  • BSc in Computer Science, Stockholm University, 2003


  • Genetic epidemiology, Medical epidemiology and biostatistics (MEB), KI, 2011-2014
  • Molecular epidemiology, Department of medical sciences, Uppsala University, 2013-2014


  • Stanford University School of Medicine, 2016


Research description

My main research interest is in the field of aging and age-related diseases, applying molecular epidemiological methods. At the moment I am conductiong longitudinal epigenetic- and telomere length analyses in elderly twins from the SATSA study, a sub-study within the Swedish Twin Registry. I am also leading a European collaboration where we look at relations between telomere length and cognitive performance as well as depressive symptoms.

Another project was initiated within the ENGAGE consortia, where I was part of leading several studies using a Mendelian Randomization (MR) approach to assess causality. Here we looked for associations between BMI and a number of different outcomes by the help of genetic variants as instruments. The MR method has been successfully used in a number of other studies where I have a leading role as well.

For a more detailed description of my current research please visit my project page Molecular epidemiology studies of aging and aging-related diseases.


Doctoral students

Teaching portfolio

I am course organizer of Genetic Epidemiology (1.5 ECT) which is a course for PhD-students where we cover basics in genetics and discuss large-scale genetic association studies. I am also coordinator for the Medical degree projects.


Large-scale non-targeted metabolomic profiling in three human population-based studies
Ganna A, Fall T, Salihovic S, Lee W, Broeckling Cd, Kumar J, et al
METABOLOMICS 2016;12(1):-

Longitudinal decline of leukocyte telomere length in old age and the association with sex and genetic risk
Berglund K, Reynolds Ca, Ploner A, Gerritsen L, Hovatta I, Pedersen Nl, et al
Aging 2016;8(7):1398-415

Adiposity as a cause of cardiovascular disease: a Mendelian randomization study
Hägg S, Fall T, Ploner A, Mägi R, Fischer K, Draisma Hh, et al
International journal of epidemiology 2015;44(2):578-86

Age- and sex-specific causal effects of adiposity on cardiovascular risk factors
Fall T, Hägg S, Ploner A, Mägi R, Fischer K, Draisma Hh, et al
Diabetes 2015;64(5):1841-52

Discovery and Fine-Mapping of Glycaemic and Obesity-Related Trait Loci Using High-Density Imputation
Engage Consortium, Horikoshi M, Magi R, Van De Bunt M, Surakka I, Sarin Ap, et al
PLOS GENETICS 2015;11(7):e1005230-

Dominant Genetic Variation and Missing Heritability for Human Complex Traits: Insights from Twin versus Genome-wide Common SNP Models
Chen X, Kuja-halkola R, Rahman I, Arpegård J, Viktorin A, Karlsson R, et al
American journal of human genetics 2015;97(5):708-14

Gene-based meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies implicates new loci involved in obesity
Hägg S, Ganna A, Van Der Laan Sw, Esko T, Pers Th, Locke Ae, et al
Human molecular genetics 2015;24(23):6849-60

Telomere Length Shortening and Alzheimer Disease--A Mendelian Randomization Study
Zhan Y, Song C, Karlsson R, Tillander A, Reynolds Ca, Pedersen Nl, et al
JAMA neurology 2015;72(10):1202-3

The impact of low-frequency and rare variants on lipid levels
Surakka I, Horikoshi M, Mägi R, Sarin Ap, Mahajan A, Lagou V, et al
Nature genetics 2015;47(6):589-97

DNA mismatch repair gene MSH6 implicated in determining age at natural menopause
Reprogen Consortium, Kconfab Investigators, Perry Jrb, Hsu Yh, Chasman Di, Johnson Ad, et al

Inactivation of the budding yeast cohesin loader Scc2 alters gene expression both globally and in response to a single DNA double strand break
Lindgren E, Hägg S, Giordano F, Björkegren J, Ström L
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.) 2014;13(23):3645-58

Leukocyte telomere length associates with prospective mortality independent of immune-related parameters and known genetic markers
Deelen J, Beekman M, Codd V, Trompet S, Broer L, Hägg S, et al
International journal of epidemiology 2014;43(3):878-86

Plasma cholesterol-induced lesion networks activated before regression of early, mature, and advanced atherosclerosis
Björkegren Jl, Hägg S, Talukdar Ha, Foroughi Asl H, Jain Rk, Cedergren C, et al
PLoS genetics 2014;10(2):e1004201-

Serum selenium in relation to measures of glucose metabolism and incidence of Type 2 diabetes in an older Swedish population
Gao H, Hägg S, Sjögren P, Lambert Pc, Ingelsson E, Van Dam Rm
Diabetic medicine : a journal of the British Diabetic Association 2014;31(7):787-93

Telomere length in circulating leukocytes is associated with lung function and disease
Albrecht E, Sillanpaa E, Karrasch S, Alves Ac, Codd V, Hovatta I, et al

Evidence of a Causal Relationship Between Adiponectin Levels and Insulin Sensitivity
Gao H, Fall T, Van Dam Rm, Flyvbjerg A, Zethelius B, Ingelsson E, et al
DIABETES 2013;62(4):1338-44

GWAS of 126,559 Individuals Identifies Genetic Variants Associated with Educational Attainment
Lifelines Cohort Study, Rietveld Ca, Medland Se, Derringer J, Yang J, Esko T, et al
SCIENCE 2013;340(6139):1467-71

Identification of seven loci affecting mean telomere length and their association with disease
Codd V, Nelson Cp, Albrecht E, Mangino M, Deelen J, Buxton Jl, et al
Nature genetics 2013;45(4):422-7

The role of adiposity in cardiometabolic traits: a Mendelian randomization analysis
Fall T, Hägg S, Mägi R, Ploner A, Fischer K, Horikoshi M, et al
PLoS medicine 2013;10(6):e1001474-

Variation in genes in the endothelin pathway and endothelium-dependent and endothelium-independent vasodilation in an elderly population
Lind L, Syvänen Ac, Axelsson T, Lundmark P, Hägg S, Larsson A
Acta physiologica (Oxford, England) 2013;208(1):88-94

Relative deprivation and mortality--a longitudinal study in a Swedish population of 4.7 million, 1990-2006
Åberg Yngwe M, Kondo N, Hägg S, Kawachi I
BMC public health 2012;12():664-

Blood levels of dual-specificity phosphatase-1 independently predict risk for post-operative morbidities causing prolonged hospitalization after coronary artery bypass grafting
Hagg S, Alserius T, Noori P, Ruusalepp A, Ivert T, Tegner J, et al

Carotid Plaque Age Is a Feature of Plaque Stability Inversely Related to Levels of Plasma Insulin
Hagg S, Salehpour M, Noori P, Lundstrom J, Possnert G, Takolander R, et al
PLOS ONE 2011;6(4):e18248-

Multi-Organ Expression Profiling Uncovers a Gene Module in Coronary Artery Disease Involving Transendothelial Migration of Leukocytes and LIM Domain Binding 2: The Stockholm Atherosclerosis Gene Expression (STAGE) Study
Hagg S, Skogsberg J, Lundstrom J, Noori P, Nilsson R, Zhong H, et al
PLOS GENETICS 2009;5(12):e1000754-

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