University of Turku
Olli Raitakari (b. 1963) is a highly respected expert in his field and is excellently placed to take charge of the International Childhood Cardiovascular Cohort (i3C) Consortium’s efforts to combine the datasets from the world’s four biggest longitudinal studies on cardiovascular risk factors, to make globally available a unique Finnish research dataset and to promote the prevention one of the nation’s biggest public health problems. It is expected that the research conducted under the direction of Professor Raitakari will have significant social impact.
Cardiovascular diseases account for almost half of all deaths in the Finnish working-age population and constitute a major public health problem not just in Finland but around the world. Exposure to cardiovascular risk factors begins in childhood. Lifestyle and environmental factors in early childhood are significantly reflected in many cardiovascular risk factors in adulthood, including obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood pressure.
The detailed mechanisms leading to an elevated risk of cardiovascular risk are still largely unknown. During his term as Academy Professor, Olli Raitakari will pool data on aetiological factors from four separate longitudinal studies in Finland, the United States and Australia. These four datasets represent the world’s biggest and best-designed studies in this field. Data have been compiled for more than 40 years from the subjects’ childhood through to adulthood. The integration of these datasets under the i3C Consortium greatly increases the prospects of finding evidence of the impact of genetic and environmental factors on the development of cardiovascular diseases.
Professor Raitakari’s research is based on a unique Finnish dataset and will generate new information about the factors underlying cardiovascular diseases. It will also support and promote preventive health efforts and in this way have significant social impact.
Raitakari received the degree of Doctor of Medical Science at the University of Turku in 1995 and earned the degree of Specialist in Clinical Physiology in 1996. He is an Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology and Clinical Physiology. Since 2007, he has served as Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Turku, and he is Director of the Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine at the same university. Since 2004, Professor Raitakari has also been Medical Director at the Department of Clinical Physiology, Turku University Hospital and Assistant Director at the Turku PET Centre.