University of Minnesota

Knut Westlund, MD

1923 — 2007

Knut Westlund was born in Oslo and graduated from the University of Oslo as MD in 1949. He received postgraduate education at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health leading to a PhD degree in 1953. After working at the Life Insurance Companies’ Institute for Medical Statistics at the Oslo City Hospitals in 1953-72, he was named Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Tromsø in 1972-91 and became Research Director of the Norwegian Mass Radiography Service (later National Health Screening Service), Oslo, in 1984-89.

Westlund had an important role in the design of the Oslo Study, a large population-based cardiovascular risk screening study started in 1972, led by Paul Leren, with several trials arising from it. Based on the Oslo Study experience, Knut Westlund designed, together with Kjell Bjartveit, the Cardiovascular Disease Study in Norwegian Counties, a cardiovascular risk survey program based on mobile screening units, launched from 1974-1976.

Westlund was one of the early researchers in the epidemiology of coronary heart disease and diabetes. He studied the large north-south gradient of cardiovascular disease in Finnmark in the north and Sogn and Fjordane and Oppland in the south, but later surveyed all counties and provided risk factor trends for Norway. He also had a key role from 1973-1974 in the initiation of the Tromsø Study, the long-term prospective study of cardiovascular epidemiology conducted in the most northern university town of Scandinavia.

Knut Westlund was the key pioneer of cardiovascular epidemiology and prevention in Norway, leading the younger generation of Norwegian scientists on the right track. (KP)


Kalevi Pyorala

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