Research group Erik Melén

Our research projects aim to advance the understanding about the complex interplay between genetic and environmental factors involved in lung growth, respiratory and allergic diseases from childhood to adulthood. Our long-term goal is to develop knowledge and treatments for better lung health over a person’s lifetime.

Several of the projects are based on data from the Swedish birth cohort, BAMSE that allows for unique investigation of health and disease in a large number of subjects up to 24 years. In addition, detailed information about perinatal events, environmental exposures such as air pollution and tobacco smoke exposure from birth and onwards has been collected. In our ongoing genetics projects, genome-wide approaches are primarily used (GWAS, global methylation analyses and RNA sequencing / microarray approaches) together with detailed clinical and epidemiological data. As such, we are conducting translational research, from bench to bedside, using clinical and epidemiological data sets. For example our projects focus on the long-term consequence of preterm birth on lung function in young adulthood, identification of subgroups of the population that are particularly vulnerable to air pollution exposures and elucidation of new genetic mechanisms for disease development.

Research group leader

Erik Melén


Group members

Jenny Hallberg, Researcher

Natalia Ballardini, Researcher

Sofia Björkander, Postdoc

Susanna Klevebro, Postdoc

Petra Um-Bergström, Postdoc

Simon Kebede Merid, Bioinformatician, PhD student

Gang Wang, PhD student

Ashish Kumar, Bioinformatician / Statistician

Björn Lundberg, MD, PhD student

Maura Kere, MD student


Extensive national and international collaborations in the respiratory and allergy fields are established, and our research group is also involved in international Precision Medicine and Exposome projects.


BAMSE: Barn, Allergi, Miljö, Stockholm, Epidemiologi – a birth cohort study including 4089 participants followed from birth to young adulthood with the aim to study lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors and health. PIs Erik Melén, Anna Bergström and Inger Kull. Web page BAMSE Project.

PERMEABLE: PERsonalized MEdicine Approach for asthma and allergy Biologicals SeLEction – a European collaborative project on allergy / asthma mechanisms, disease biomarkers and biological treatment. Swedish PI: Erik Melén.

EXPANSE: EXposome Powered tools for healthy living in urbAN Settings – a European collaborative project on healthy living, urban exposures and non-communicable diseases. Swedish PI: Erik Melén.

Research support

  • European Research Council
  • Swedish Research Council
  • Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation
  • ERA-PERMED (Horizon 2020)
  • National Institute of Health, USA
  • ALF, medicine
  • Karolinska Institutet, SFO Epidemiology


Linking COPD epidemiology with pediatric asthma care: Implications for the patient and the physician.
Melén E, Guerra S, Hallberg J, Jarvis D, Stanojevic S
Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2019 Sep;30(6):589-597

Prenatal Particulate Air Pollution and DNA Methylation in Newborns: An Epigenome-Wide Meta-Analysis.
Gruzieva O, Xu CJ, Yousefi P, Relton C, Merid SK, Breton CV, et al
Environ. Health Perspect. 2019 May;127(5):57012

Impact of IgE sensitization and rhinitis on inflammatory biomarkers and lung function in adolescents with and without asthma.
Hallberg J, Ballardini N, Almqvist C, Westman M, van Hage M, Lilja G, et al
Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2019 02;30(1):74-80

Genomic interactions with exposure to inhaled pollutants.
London SJ, Melén E
J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 2019 Jun;143(6):2011-2013.e1

DNA methylation in childhood asthma: an epigenome-wide meta-analysis.
Xu CJ, Söderhäll C, Bustamante M, Baïz N, Gruzieva O, Gehring U, et al
Lancet Respir Med 2018 05;6(5):379-388

Body mass index status and peripheral airway obstruction in school-age children: a population-based cohort study.
Ekström S, Hallberg J, Kull I, Protudjer JLP, Thunqvist P, Bottai M, et al
Thorax 2018 06;73(6):538-545

Genome-Wide Interaction Analysis of Air Pollution Exposure and Childhood Asthma with Functional Follow-up.
Gref A, Merid SK, Gruzieva O, Ballereau S, Becker A, Bellander T, et al
Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. 2017 05;195(10):1373-1383

DNA Methylation in Newborns and Maternal Smoking in Pregnancy: Genome-wide Consortium Meta-analysis.
Joubert BR, Felix JF, Yousefi P, Bakulski KM, Just AC, Breton C, et al
Am. J. Hum. Genet. 2016 Apr;98(4):680-96

Early-Life Exposure to Traffic-related Air Pollution and Lung Function in Adolescence.
Schultz ES, Hallberg J, Bellander T, Bergström A, Bottai M, Chiesa F, et al
Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. 2016 Jan;193(2):171-7

A large-scale, consortium-based genomewide association study of asthma.
Moffatt MF, Gut IG, Demenais F, Strachan DP, Bouzigon E, Heath S, et al
N. Engl. J. Med. 2010 Sep;363(13):1211-1221

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