Erik Strömgren

- In honour of Professor Erik Strömgren


In 2017 Niels Bohr Professor John McGrath received the Erik Strömgren Medal for his research in Psychiatric Epidemiology, especially within the field of schizophrenia.

Erik Strömgren was born on 28th November 1909 in Copenhagen to Swedish parents. From the age of 17 he studied medicine at the University of Copenhagen. In 1945 he became Professor in psychiatry at Aarhus University and Chief Physician at the Psychiatric Hospital in Risskov from where he worked until 1979.

Erik Strömgren's research is especially related to his main areas of interest in psychiatry: Genetics and epidemiology. As the first researcher in Denmark he performed a large population survey of psychiatric morbidity, conducted on the island of Bornholm. This became his dissertation work from 1939: “Beiträge zur psychiatrischen Erblehre auf Grund von Untersuchungen an einer Inselbevölkerung”. Later, he conducted a number of epidemiological studies on hospitalized patients in Danish psychiatric hospitals, the famous cross-sectional surveys repeated every five years since 1957.

Erik Strömgren is famous for his effort to raise psychiatric research to the same level as other areas in medicine - in Denmark but also internationally. From 1955 Erik Strömgren was linked to WHO, where he among other things contributed to some of WHO international multicentre studies of schizophrenia. He also participated in the development of the ICD 10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders.  

At his retirement in 1979 a memorial plaque in honour of Erik Strömgren was set up in the Psychiatric Hospital auditorium, with only his name, dates, and four nouns for his major areas of functioning engraved: Physician, teacher, researcher, and planner. In this auditorium he is honoured at the annual Strömgren lectures by internationally distinguished psychiatric researchers, and the Strömgren medal (containing a miniature of the memorial plaque) is awarded.

Read more about Erik Strömgren:

Erik Strömgren 100 år (in Danish): An article about Erik Strömgren and his thesis about psychiatric morbidity in Bornholm.

Editorial – Strömgren remembered:  An article about Erik Strömgren's life and his work within the field of psychiatry.


See list of all Strömgren medal award winners