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Sonja Swanson



Sonja Swanson

Phone+31 (0)10 70 38491

Biographical Sketch

POSITION TITLE: Assistant professor, Department of Epidemiology


Institution and location Degree Completion Date Field of Study
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health ScM 2009 Biostatistics
Harvard School of Public Health ScD 2014 Epidemiology

Personal Statement

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Erasmus MC. I also carry an adjunct affiliation with the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. My methodological research focuses on improving the use and transparency of methods for estimating causal effects in epidemiology. Such work spans applications in observational studies and pragmatic randomized trials. My substantive research primarily focuses on neuropsychiatric disorders and related health outcomes, including using appropriate methods to studying potential prevention and treatment strategies.


Positions and Honors

Positions and employment:
2015 - current: Assistant Professor, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2015 - current: Adjunct Assistant Professor, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, US
2014-2015: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, US


2018: Brian MacMahon Early Career Epidemiologist Award (SER)

2017: Dutch L’Oréal UNESCO For Women In Science Fellowship

2016: Kenneth Rothman EPIDEMIOLOGY Prize

Contributions to Science

Select publications of my methodological and substantive research are listed below; a full list can be found here.

Epidemiologic Methods

  • Swanson SA, Hernán MA. How to report instrumental variable analyses (suggestions welcome). Epidemiology. 2013;24(3):370-374.
  • Swanson SA, Robins JM, Miller M, Hernán MA. Selecting on treatment: A pervasive form of bias in instrumental variable analyses. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2015;181(3):191-197.
  • Swanson SA, Miller M, Robins JM, Hernán MA. Definition and evaluation of the monotonicity condition for preference-based instruments. Epidemiology. 2015;26(3):414-420.
  • Jackson JW, Swanson SA. Toward a clearer portrayal of confounding bias in instrumental variable applications. Epidemiology. 2015;26(4):498–504.
  • Swanson SA, Tiemeier H, Ikram MA, Hernán MA. Nature as a trialist?: Deconstructing the analogy between Mendelian randomization and randomized trials. Epidemiology. 2017;28(5):653-9.
  • Swanson SA, Hernán MA, Miller M, Robins JM, Richardson TS. Partial identification of the average treatment effect using instrumental variables: Review of methods for binary instruments, treatments, and outcomes. Journal of the American Statistical Association. 2018.


    Neuropsychiatric Epidemiology

  • Swanson SA, Crow SJ, Le Grange D, Swendsen J, Merikangas KR. Prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2011;68(7):714-723.
  • Miller M, Swanson SA, Azrael D, Pate V, Stürmer T. Antidepressant dose, age, and the risk of deliberate self-harm. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2014;174(6):899-909.
  • Miller M, Swanson SA, Azrael D. Are we missing something pertinent? A bias analysis of unmeasured confounding in the firearm-suicide literature. Epidemiologic Reviews. 2016;38(1):62-69.


    Teaching Epidemiology

  • Swanson SA. Communicating causality. European Journal of Epidemiology. 2015;30(10):1073-1075.
  • Labrecque JA, Swanson SA. Target trial emulation: Teaching epidemiology and beyond. European Journal of Epidemiology. 2017;32(6):473-5.

Research Support

Dutch Research Council (ZonMW) Veni; 2017-2019

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP); 2018-2020


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