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Another six years to the head of the Department of Forensic Medicine

Christian Lindholst has been reappointed to the position of department head at the Department of Forensic Medicine. He will work to strengthen the department’s research efforts and expand its international relations.

2020.05.27 | Henriette Stevnhøj

Christian Lindholst’s appointment in 2013 as department head at the Department of Forensic Medicine caused a bit of a stir, as he was the first forensic chemist to be appointed to a position that had previously always been held by a state-appointed forensic pathologist with a medical degree. Now he is taking another six years as head of the department. Something which Dean Lars Bo Nielsen, who is also chair of the appointment committee, is very satisfied with:

"Christian has succeeded in strengthening the Department of Forensic Medicine while also focusing on ensuring that the department delivers research-based public sector consultancy of the highest quality. He has also made a significant contribution towards making the department’s social utility much more visible to the outside world," says Lars Bo Nielsen.

Bringing knowledge home from abroad

With the reappointment, Christian Lindholst will be at the forefront of efforts to bring a well-functioning department to a new level with a greater international outlook.

"In a national perspective, forensic medicine is a small field, and although the three forensic medicine departments in Denmark have a good collaboration, we still need to do work internationally so we can become even better. It’s our responsibility to deliver and document the best quality, and we can achieve this by fostering and making use of our international relations," says Christian Lindholst.

The department's two Honorary Skou professors are one means of doing this, but otherwise Christian Lindholst’s vision is for as many of the department's researchers as possible to work and carry out research abroad. Short stays abroad are also valuable, he says.

Research boosted by collaborations

When Christian Lindholst took up the position of department head six years ago, the department was already in the process of organising research into three units; the bioanalytical unit, the unit for clinical forensic medicine and the unit for forensic diagnostic imaging and osteology. Since then, the units have been further strengthened with additional PhD students, researchers and research funding.

"We’ve benefited from more research funding, partly through a new financial agreement with the police force, and partly through increased external research grants. Furthermore, we’ve seen an increase in the department's income-generating activities in the form of partnerships with Danish and foreign government agencies and institutions, companies and research groups. This creates more positions and boosts our research environment," says Christian Lindholst.

He also hopes that there will in future be greater synergy between researchers and public-sector consultancy, which is to say the section of the department's tasks that involve providing services for the police districts in Jutland.

"Living up to our ambition of delivering research-based services also calls for increased research in cases involving public sector consultancy. We already have examples of new research projects which derive from public sector consultancy, such as 3D printing technology to support written declarations, as well as metabolomics applied to data from routine forensic chemistry cases for the study of metabolite profiles," explains Christian Lindholst.

Inviting listeners and viewers behind closed doors

In 2015, the general public were given a rare insight into the work of forensic pathologists when DR journalist Anders Agger made a documentary programme about the department. The programme gave viewers a closer look at a forensic autopsy in a way that was otherwise reserved for professionals.

"We wanted to help make this specialist area of medicine less of a taboo which most people only know about from crime series and whodunnits on TV and in books. We think the programme achieved that and it led to positive feedback from relatives of those who were to undergo an autopsy. In addition to being fascinating, it can be liberating and less worrying to have more specific knowledge about what actually takes place during a forensic examination,” says Christian Lindholst.

Since the TV programme, the department has also been involved in the publication of a book on the history of forensic medicine in Denmark titled: ’Retsmedicin i 100 år. Til gavn for de levende’, and most recently a series of podcasts that provide an insight into the methods and considerations of forensic chemists and forensic pathologists.


"Modesty is a virtue, but it's also a shame not to talk about the contribution we make. We can also see from the number of listeners that they’re many people who wish to know more about what we do," says Christian Lindholst. 


More about Christian Lindholst

  • Department head at the Department of Biomedicine from 2013
  • Appointed associate professor at Aarhus University in 2008
  • PhD from the University of Southern Denmark in 2002
  • Born 1972. Married to medical doctor Bettina Bak, lives in Skødstrup outside Aarhus and has three children.
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