New projects

Below you will find information on current research projects in The Department of Neonatology.

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Please see our annual report  for current research projects.

New projects a listed below.

New Ph.D. projects

PrePhage – Improving gut flora in preterm infants using beneficial viruses from healthy infants

Gustav Riemer Jakobsen (Lise Aunsholt, Susanne Søndergaard Kappel) 
The purpose of this study is to improve gut flora in preterm infants and ultimately prevent the severe gut-disease, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). We aim to transfer isolated viruses - so called bacteriophages - from healthy term infant stool, to preterm infants. 
The project has the following sub-goals: 
  • Mapping the development of normal gut bacteria and viruses in healthy term infants and examining the relationship between the bacteria and viruses and external factors such as diet
  • Testing the effect of human bacteriophage transfer to preterm piglets. This study will examine both the safety of the treatment, if the treatment prevents NEC, as well as examining how the treatment works
  • Testing the effect and safety of treating with gut-viruses in preterm infants for the first time worldwide. We believe that the beneficial gut viruses will have a protective effect on the preterm infant’s fragile intestinal system. 
The primary goal is to ensure that the treatment is in fact safe. If the infants who in this study receive the treatment do not experience serious side-effects, a larger study will be performed. 
This study is done in collaboration with 2 departments at the University of Copenhagen: Translational Pediatrics and Nutrition, and Microbiology and Fermentation. 

Surfactant treatment in preterm infants: improving education, assessment, and clinical outcome

Niklas Breindahl (Lise Aunsholt, Martin Tolsgaard and Tine Brink Henriksen)
The purpose of this PhD-project is to gain insight to optimize surfactant treatment using the LISA method in preterm infants with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS).
In our first study, we will conduct a Delphi-survey to achieve international consensus on the training needs to inform a simulation-based curriculum and an assessment tool designed to evaluate competence among LISA operators. Based on these results, we will develop a simulation-based education using a simulator for exploring critical aspects of LISA performance. 
In our second study, we will collect validity evidence for the assessment of LISA in a controlled training environment without any patient risks. Further, we will collect data in the simulated setting to train a model using neural networks informed by hand-motions and video from the laryngoscope obtained during the procedure. 
In our third study, we will randomize preterm patients with RDS to receive LISA either using standard pharmacological analgesic treatment or a non-pharmacological approach as there is clinical equipoise regarding the effect of pharmacological analgesic treatment when performing LISA.
This PhD-project is expected to be terminated in January 2026.

Implementation and evaluation of a Mother-newborn Zero-separation intervention in high-intensive treatment and care

Joan Neergaard Larsen (Jette Led Sørensen, Ragnhild Måstrup, Helena Hansson, Laura Navne)

This project investigates an intervention of family rooms securing a sick mother and her newborn sick child to stay together and receive treatment and care in the same room in cooperation between the Department of Neonatal and the Department of Obstetrics. The overall aim is to quality whether this model is of high treatment and care quality, feasible, acceptable, and sustainable for newborns, mothers, partners, and healthcare professionals. The specific aims are to:
  • Explore neonatal and obstetrics healthcare professionals´ expectations, concerns, and educational needs related to zero-separation in family rooms and to develop an educational program for healthcare professionals. A qualitative descriptive study.
  • Identify the organizational facilitators and barriers, social, and ethical challenges for the healthcare professionals. A qualitative observational study.
  • Explore parents´ experiences of zero-separation in family rooms. An interview study.
  • Detect differences between the intervention group (zero-separation) and control group in time to first breastmilk expression, first skin-to-skin contact, and first breastfeeding attempt.
The project is expected to be finished in august 2025.

New pre-graduate projects

International consensus on a simulation-based curriculum for neonatologists and interdisciplinary neonatal transfer teams

Emma Therese Bay (Niklas Breindahl, Mathilde Maagaard Nielsen, Martin Tolsgaard og Lise Aunsholt)
Purpose: We will conduct two studies to establish international consensus on a prioritized list of technical skills to be included in a simulation-based curriculum for specialty training in neonatology and interdisciplinary neonatal transfer teams, respectively. 
Design: Online survey questionaries using the Delphi method. 
Status September 2022: Inclusion of international neonatal experts in the first study. 

Use of antibiotics in preterm infants, and absorption of antibiotics in ill infants

Anna Bjerager Arnesen, (Emma Malchau Carlsen and Bo Mølholm Hansen)
Purpose: The study consists of two investigations and therefore has two primary purposes: 1) to describe the epidemiological aspects of infection and the use of antibiotics in preterm infants, and 2) to study the absorption of antibiotics during the first day of life in ill and preterm infants.
Design: A retrospective cohort study and a prospective cohort study, respectively.
Status: Devising the research protocol and generating data for the epidemiological study.​

New postdoc projects and other projects

​Human milk oligosaccharides and microbiome ​

Human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) impact on maturation of the gut microbiota participating

The aim of this study is to investigate the role of HMOs in the maturation of a healthy gut bacterial community during weaning. Stool and breast milk samples are collected from 20 mother-child pairs just before the introduction of solid food and then at two different time points during the transition. The samples will be pseudonymized and then analyzes will be carried out at DTU.

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