Alexandra Havdahl

Associate Professor - Department of Psychology

Academic interests

I am an Associate Professor at the University of Oslo Department of Psychology and member of the PROMENTA research centre. I lead the Psychiatric Genetic Epidemiology (PaGE) group at Nic Waals Institute of Lovisenberg Diaconal Hospital and the psychiatric genetics (PsychGen) group at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo. At the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol I am an Honorary Research Fellow.

My research group has three primary aims:

  1. Elucidating when and how genetic risk for mental disorder manifests in signs and symptoms from birth to adulthood
  2. Distinguishing genetic and environmental pathways of within-family transmission of mental disorders
  3. Identifying causal environmental risk and protective factors for mental disorders

We utilize prospective and longitudinal pregnancy cohorts such as the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Our approaches include structural equation modelling, polygenic scoring, Mendelian randomization, negative control comparison, and diverse family designs.

I am involved in several international research collaborations, including the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC), the Childhood and Adolescence Psychopathology: unravelling the complex etiology by a large Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Europe (CAPICE), and the EArly Genetics and Lifecourse Epidemiology (EAGLE) Consortium.

Another line of research that I am strongly engaged in aims to improve early identification, assessment tools, and interventions for individuals with autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions. I am a member of the Lancet Commission on the Future of Care and Clinical Research in Autism and a lead trainer in the national network for clinician training in the use of autism diagnostic assessment tools.



  • 2016: PhD. Department of Psychology, University of Oslo

  • 2011: Cand. Psychol. (6-year clinical psychologist degree), University of Oslo, accredited psychologist 2011

Employment history

  • 2019 -current: Associate Professor (20%), Dept of Psychology, UO

  • 2018 -current: Research group leader (80%), head of the Psychiatric Genetic Epidemiology group, Nic Waals Institute, Lovisenberg Diaconal Hospital

  • 2018 -current: Researcher and co-PI of the psychiatric genetics (PsychGen) group (20%), Dept. of Mental Disorders, Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH)

  • 2016-2018: Senior Research Associate (100%, permanent), MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol, UK

  • 2013-2016: PhD Fellow, Nic Waals Institute, Lovisenberg, Norway

  • 2013-2015: Visiting PhD Researcher (100%), Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, Weill Medical College, Cornell University, New York, USA

  • 2011-2012: Clinical Psychologist (100%) in the Autism Birth Cohort Study (ABC) nested in the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort, Nic Waals Institute, Lovisenberg

  • 2007-2011: Research Assistant (20%), ABC Study, Nic Waals Institute, Lovisenberg


  • 2020: Career grant from the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority

  • 2019: Best paper of 2019 award from Lovisenberg Diaconal Hospital

  • 2018: Exchange fellowship for 1-year research stay at the University of Bristol. The South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority

  • 2016: Award for best clinical PhD dissertation from the International Society for Autism Research

  • 2012: Exchange fellowship for 1-year research stay at Cornell University. The South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority

  • 2012: PhD fellowship. The South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority

Organization of International Conferences

  • 2018: Established and organized the Norwegian and British population cohorts meeting 2018 (35 speakers) at the University of Bristol, UK

Tags: Developmental psychology, genetics, Psychopathology
Published Dec. 9, 2020 11:35 AM - Last modified Dec. 9, 2020 4:09 PM