The Project has just completed its third research project, titled “MERMAID III – The challenge of ovarian cancer: Screening, early diagnosis and the identification of women at high risk”. The aim of the research was to identify one or more methods of diagnosing ovarian cancer at an early stage. The budget has been DKK 36.1mio and the research period has been 7 years.

Prior to MERMAID III the MERMAID Project has been responsible for the research completed for Mermaid I and MERMAID II, focusing on ovarian and cervical cancer respectively. Both Projects have received significant international approval for their important results in the areas.


In the beginning of 2012, the professors in the MERMAID Scientific Committee decided that MERMAID III was to focus on ovarian cancer, as was the case for MERMAID I. The scientists conducting Mermaid I reached valuable and useful results, that among other things demonstrated that genetic factors are one of the causes of ovarian cancer. The MERMAID III project has been focusing on the development of methods whereby you can diagnose ovarian cancer at an early stage. This will allow treatment to be started earlier, and hence there is a greater chance of being able to cure.

The scientists who responsible for the research in respect of MERMAID III are specialists in different fields of ovarian cancer: Professor Susanne Krüger Kjær, The Danish Cancer society and Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Professor Claus Høgdall, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet and Professor Jan Blaakær, University of Southern Denmark – SDU/Odense and Odense University Hospital. The coordinator of the research project has been Professor Bent Ottesen, former center director Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet.

The research in MERMAID III has been taking place in collaboration with scientists from John Hopkins Medical Institutes, Baltimore, US and Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

The fundraising for the Project started in spring 2013 and raised 36.1 million DKK. The research commenced in 2015 and was completed in 2021.


MERMAID III – The challenge of ovarian cancer

MERMAID III – Research

MERMAID III – Evaluation



In 2006, the MERMAID steering committee started collecting funds for our new research project MERMAID II – Cervical cancer – research in genetical and biological markers.

The MERMAID II project on cervical cancer comprises more than 50,000 Danish women. This material which is the largest in the world will be the starting point for our focused research into the following vital fields:

  • Identification of risk groups
  • Efficient methods of screening
  • Genetic susceptibility
  • Follow-up and treatment

The primary cause of cervical cancer is the sexually transmitted infection, human papilloma virus, also called HPV.
Almost 80% of all women are or will be infected with HPV. With many women, the infection disappears by itself, but with some women it becomes chronic. This gives a significantly increased risk of severe cervical cell changes and in the worst case, cervical cancer.

It has been proven that a chronic HPV-infection is a decisive factor to the development of cervical cancer, but we still do not know what factors set off the development of cancer.

A vaccine has been developed which can prevent HPV-infection, but the vaccine cannot prevent all types of HPV-infection, and it is not capable of treating already existing cellular changes. The vaccine is given to young girls before their sexual debut. The vaccine will therefore help new generations and thus, cannot replace screening for cervical cancer. So, it is still incredibly important to find new markers which can improve the present screening, and which can help identify women who are particularly prone to develop cervical cancer.

Every year, several hundred Danish women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Furthermore, almost 5,000 women undergo surgery for severe cellular changes on the cervix, and many need regular check-ups for up to 10 years. 50% of the women diagnosed with cervical cancer are younger than 45 – women with families and children to raise – which means that cervical cancer also has serious social consequences.

MERMAID II is carried out by internationally recognized cancer experts from Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre Hospital, the Danish Cancer Society, University of Tübingen in Germany and University College London in England.

26.3 million DKK was collected to the research, which was concluded in 2014.

MERMAID II – Research

MERMAID II – Evaluation


In 2005 MERMAIDs steering committee reached its target of collecting 19.6 million Danish kroner for MERMAID I.

Every year, up to 200,000 women are afflicted by ovarian cancer.
More than 50% die within 5 years.
This should not be so.

Denmark has the highest incidence of ovarian cancer in the world.
Approx. 25% of the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are younger than 50 years of age, and unfortunately it is one of the types of cancer which has the highest rate of mortality, because the disease is often not recognised until very late in its development. Ovarian cancer is also known as ‘The Silent Killer’, because it is basically symptomless at the beginning, and therefore the disease will have spread in more than 70% of the cases, before the woman is diagnosed.
The researchers behind MERMAID I are among the best og most experienced within this field, and they have already over a number of years collected data from a large number of Danish women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. This material, known as the MALOVA-project, forms a starting point for an efficient and focused research into the following vital fields:

  • Early diagnosis
  • Heredity and genetic susceptibility
  • Important factors to treatment and survival
  • Efficient methods of screening

We raised 19.6 million DKK. The project was concluded in 2010.

MERMAID I – Research

MERMAID I – Evaluation