The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Health has decided on funding for eleven clinical researchers. The Research Council’s total funding for the clinical researchers amounts to 2.5 million euros. The applicant success rate was 29 per cent.
The funding for clinical researchers is a targeted funding scheme of the Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Health. September 2016 was the twelfth funding call organised under the scheme. The funding is granted towards salary and research costs to support part-time research by clinical researchers.
Clinical researchers have an essential role to play in reconciling clinical patient care and basic research. High-quality clinical research can contribute to identifying key questions in clinical patient care and elicit possible answers to these questions from basic research. The Research Council for Health is keen to emphasise the importance of supporting clinical researchers and aims to improve the preconditions for clinical research in Finland.
September 2016 was the first time the clinical research funding scheme was not limited to medical doctors. The applicant may be a medical doctor with a doctoral degree working in clinical practice or some other healthcare professional with a doctoral degree engaged in clinical practice.
Examples of funded researchers
Olli Lohi (Tampere University Hospital) aims to find new targeted therapies for different kinds of acute leukaemia. Although the prognosis of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) has improved markedly during the past decades, the chemotherapeutic treatment is lengthy and many patients still relapse. Lohi will tackle these issues by systematically exploring the genomic features of distinct ALL subtypes. This information will allow Lohi to search for potential target genes and candidate drugs specific for ALL subtypes. The specific aim is to find novel treatments especially for intermediate and high-risk leukaemia patients.
Anastasia Shulga (Helsinki University Hospital) is developing a new method for the rehabilitation and treatment of patients with spinal cord injury. Shulga’s team was the first to apply paired associative stimulation (PAS) to spinal cord injury patients as a long-term treatment with successful outcomes. PAS is a technique where noninvasive brain stimulation is synchronised with peripheral nerve electrical stimulation to induce transient plastic changes in the corticospinal tract. The team’s preliminary experiments have shown that long-term PAS can restore voluntary control over paralysed muscles and enhance the motor output in weak muscles. Shulga’s aim is to confirm the promising results, further develop the method in a larger population of patients, and seek optimal parameters for performing measurements in healthy volunteers.
Kari Tikkinen (University of Helsinki) heads the Clinical Urology and Epidemiology (CLUE) Working Group. Urological diseases are common conditions that impair the quality of life of hundreds of millions of people globally. The causes of the diseases are not well understood, the insights from research remain limited and the treatments are often unsuccessful. The CLUE Working Group consists of a group of experienced clinical researchers, including urologists, clinical epidemiologists and statisticians. The group conducts surveys, cohort studies, systematic reviews and meta-analyses and drafts clinical practice guidelines, and will now be expanding its focus to randomised clinical trials. The overall aim is to create a world-class trial unit, led from Helsinki, with trials addressing critical issues in the management of patients with urological problems.
- Science Adviser Sanna Marjavaara, tel. +358 295 335 070, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi
Academy of Finland Communications
Vesa Varpula, Communications Specialist
tel. +358 295 335 131
The Academy of Finland’s mission is to fund high-quality scientific research, provide expertise in science and science policy, and strengthen the position of science and research. In 2017, our funding for research amounts to 437 million euros. Part of our funds (€70.7m in 2017) come from proceeds of Finland’s national gaming company Veikkaus.