Jennifer R. Harris

Senior Researcher, Norwegian Institute of Public Health

Dr. Jennifer Harris is a Senior Researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, Norway, where she leads the program in genetic epidemiology. She has interdisciplinary training in life-span development, genetics, behavior and epidemiology and was awarded a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm through the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, as part of the Research Network on Successful Aging. Since 2000 she has also been a consultant at the NIH, to the National Institute on Aging, Division of Behavioral and Social Research, where she advises on the development of research directions that integrate genetics/genomics with a broad behavioral and social science portfolio.

In 1992 Dr. Harris founded the population-based twin panel study at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health under her research interests to integrate developmental approaches with genetic research into complex phenotypes. She developed the data as a national research resource that have become an integral part of the National Twin Register. In addition to her participation in the Nordic-wide twin study collaboration on cancer (NorTwinCan), her other twin research includes epigenetic studies of autoimmune disorders, research into social environments and health, and sex-differences on body composition. In 2013 she won the James Shields Award for outstanding research in behavioral genetics using the twin method. She is also one of the founders of the International Network of Twin Registers (INTR) that is being developed to facilitate harmonization and collaboration of twin studies worldwide.

Dr. Harris has been highly active in several international projects on the harmonization of large-scale biobanks in epidemiology. She led the European Union project Promoting Harmonization of Epidemiological Biobanks in Europe (PHOEBE) and she led the Norwegian research participation in Genome-wide Analyses of European Twin Cohorts to Identify Genes in Common Diseases (GenomEUtwin) and the European Network of Genetic and Genomic Epidemiology (ENGAGE). Currently, she participates in the 7th framework project Biobank Standardisation and Harmonisation for Research Excellence in the European Union (BioSHaRE-EU), where she leads the work package on Strategic Integration with other biobank projects. She is also leading the ethics work package in Biobank Norway, which is a national hub working with the BBMRI-ERIC. Dr. Harris has broad commitment to the wider scientific community and serves on several expert panels, boards, steering groups, scientific advisory committees, and editorial boards.