The CoE’s research focused on exploring the underlying mechanisms of cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome and diabetes and on developing tools for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these diseases.
Cardiovascular diseases are a major cause of death worldwide. Metabolic syndrome and diabetes are rapidly increasing and multiplying the risk of cardiac disease. Metabolic interaction and dysfunctions between different tissues and the circulatory system are poorly understood. These can be studied by means of molecular imaging, particularly the method known as positron emission tomography (PET).
The aim of cardiac research at the CoE was to develop new imaging methods that would help determine the risk and severity of coronary heart disease and heart failure and provide guidance for therapy decisions. In diabetes research, the aim was to elucidate the interactions between different organs, such as adipose tissue, the liver, central nervous system and heart in the pathogenesis and development of the diseases. This will pave the way to developing and testing new treatments. To facilitate the use of molecular imaging methods in this area, another important focus of work was to develop new contrast agents for PET and magnetic imaging.
The CoE was headed by Professor Juhani Knuuti, Director of the national PET Centre in Turku. Knuuti specialises in studying and developing cardiac imaging methods.
The PET Centre is jointly administered by the University of Turku, Åbo Akademi University and the Hospital District of Southwest Finland. The resources and hardware available at the Centre are globally unique. The CoE research team comprised 71 academic scholars and 23 doctoral thesis writers.