The Folkhälsan Research Center focuses on biomedical and health science research. Altogether 239 original papers were published during 2019, a significant portion of them in high impact journals.

Altogether 239 original papers were published in scientific journals and presented at both national and international congresses and seminars. Some highlights of the publications – reflecting the diversity of our research – are summarized in this annual report.

Five graduate students from the Genetic Research Program defended their doctoral theses at the University of Helsinki. Nine master’s theses and four in-depth projects were completed at the Research Center.

The Research Center strives to increase its visibility, both within the Folkhälsan organization and within the scientific community as well as among the public. In 2018, the Center established a task-group with the responsibility to coordinate strategic visibility. The group continued its work on the center’s visibility in 2019, especially within social media. Furthermore, document templates and graphic materials were created with the Research Center’s new logo in order to strengthen our visual identity.

In the autumn of 2019, several events were organized. Most significantly, Biomedicum Helsinki hosted a scientific symposium called “From rare to common diseases – hope for treatments?”, with an audience of approximately 150. The Research Center also initiated a studia generalia lecture series with two lectures, one about diabetes and the other about rare diseases. The occasion was well received, with an audience of approximately 100 on site.

Close research collaboration with the University of Helsinki, which started as early as 1996, continues within the following groups affiliated with the Center and the new research programs of the University of Helsinki Faculty of Medicine for 2019–2025: Prof. Per-Henrik Groop, Prof. Outi Mäkitie and Docent Tiinamaija Tuomi – Clinical and Molecular Metabolism (CAMM) Research Program; and Prof. Juha Kere and Docent Jukka Kallijärvi – Stem Cells and Metabolism (STEMM) Research Program. Furthermore, Anna-Elina Lehesjoki and Hannes Lohi work as HiLIFE Fellows at the Helsinki Institute of Life Science (HiLIFE) at the University of Helsinki in 2017–2020.

The groups were successful in obtaining external funding for their research. The total funding for 2019 was 8.5 million euros, of which 46 % came from the Folkhälsan Research Foundation and 11 % was from the Samfundet Folkhälsan funds. External financing accounted for 43 %.

Awards

  • Hannes Lohi’s research group received the Finnish Federation for Animal Welfare Associations SEY’s Animal Welfare Award for their work on dog and cat genetics. The prize is awarded for work that significantly promotes animal welfare.
  • Marco Savarese received the ‘Presidential Prize’ at the World Muscle Society congress.
  • Per-Henrik Groop received a prize by the International Diabetes Federation IDF for the research conducted by the FinnDiane group.

Appointments

  • Anna-Elina Lehesjoki was elected to the Finnish Science Society in December 2018, and Vineta Fellman and Hannes Lohi in December 2019.
  • Trine Rounge was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Oslo from August 15, 2019.