EUR 13.7 million to Academy Projects in health research

11 Apr 2012

The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Health has decided to grant some EUR 13.7 million to Academy Projects. In the September 2011 call, the Research Council received a total of 197 applications for Academy Project funding. Of the applications submitted, 33 were granted funding.  The number of applications increased by almost 25 per cent compared to the year before. The average funding per project was some EUR 430,000.

The success rate was 17 per cent, and women accounted for 39 per cent of funding recipients. Because of the increased number of applications and a decrease in budget authority, the competition for project funding was extremely tough this year. The review panels, composed of foreign experts, found the scientific quality of the applications overall good. The applications scored with the highest grades were found competitive on an international level.

Academy Projects are the key funding opportunity provided by the Academy for research projects, designed to offer funding for projects where the researchers themselves select the topics. Non-tied project funding is a way to guarantee renewal in scientific disciplines as well as the freedom of scientific research. Academy Project funding provides researchers with an opportunity to carry out scientifically ambitious research, to achieve new breakthroughs and to engage in high-risk research. Most of the funded research involves international cooperation.

Academy Project funding was granted among others to the following researchers:

Senior Researcher Pia Mäkelä (National Institute for Health and Welfare) is investigating the negative effects of alcohol on those other than the drinker. The study consists of three interconnected sub-studies with specific aims:
1) intergenerational inheritance of problems related to substance use;
2) public burden of alcohol: Alcohol users’ non-employment and service use histories;
3) the wellbeing and health status of people suffering from other people’s drinking.
In the first two sub-studies, the data is based on register linkages. In the third sub-study, the data comes from a Finnish population questionnaire. The project aims to gain a better understanding of the processes involved and to identify points of intervention with a view to reducing alcohol-related harms.

Professor David Rice (University of Helsinki) is researching craniosynostosis and how to identify the mechanisms and to prevent the disease. Understanding craniosynostosis and suture biogenesis involves two related but distinct phenomena: the control of osteogenesis and suture patency, more specifically excessive osteogenesis and loss of suture patency.  Craniosynostosis is the second most common craniofacial anomaly in which the sutures in between the bones of the skull and face close over too early. Patients not only suffer from physical deformity but also have dental, visual, auditory, respiratory, neurological and psychosocial difficulties. These problems require multiple courses of treatment over many years. The aim of this study is to understand, at a tissue level, the process by which sutures fuse and preventing the fusion occurring locally, that is to say at the site of fusion. The project will help clinicians and patients understand the condition and take a step forward in the production of targeted therapeutics.

Researcher Pieta Mattila (University of Turku) is researching the role of the cytoskeleton in lymphocyte activation. The research knowledge will help understand how our immune system works. The adaptive immune system works in collaboration with the innate immune system and is pivotal in overcoming the burden of pathogens in our enviroment. The actin cytoskeleton is known to play a key role in endo- and excocytosis, intracellular vesicle sorting and, furthermore, in antigen receptor signalling but the molecular pathways of cytoskeletal regulation in lymphocytes are yet poorly understood.

More information:

  • Science Adviser Sara Illman, tel. +358 9 7748 294

Academy of Finland Communications
Communications Specialist Vesa Varpula
tel. +358 9 7748 8458


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