A finger on the pulse

December 1, 2006

Improved collaboration in biomedical research could lead to leaps in diagnosis, says Kalervo Väänänen

Medical research in Finland is built on quality healthcare for all, a positive attitude and patients' willingness to take part in clinical research trials. The biomedical research community has made possible the development of new diagnostics and treatments. Since 1987, the Ministry of Education has run a funding programme to develop six biocentres linked to universities and medical faculties. Biocentre Finland has been established to create more intensive collaboration between the six biocentres. In addition, a Centre for Molecular Medicine, linked to the University of Helsinki, will be set up.

One of the challenges is to bring young doctors onto the research track. The Academy of Finland encourages MDs to engage in clinical research by offering part-time academic research posts.

One of the academy's strategies is to increase collaboration between Finnish and foreign research teams. It is developing a new funding instrument that will support young scientists' return to Finland after time abroad. The academy also supports multinational projects. The Centre of Excellence programme promotes multidisciplinary research groups including the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Translational Genome-Scale Biology, led by Olli-Pekka Kallioniemi. It unites several research groups at the University of Helsinki, the University of Turku and VTT Finland - Northern Europe's largest contract research organisation. It studies the impact of human genes on cell growth and premature ageing to identify cancer genes.

Its genome-scale discoveries will advance diagnostics and therapeutics.

Kalervo Väänänen is professor of cell biology at the University of Turku and chairman of the Academy of Finland Health Research Council.

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