New clinical researchers and Postdoctoral Researchers funded in health research

(4 Jun 2014)

The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Health has decided to fund 16 new Postdoctoral Researchers and ten new clinical researchers. Within the September 2013 call, the Research Council received a total of 130 applications for Postdoctoral Researcher funding and 34 applications for funding for clinical researchers.

Support for clinical research careers

The Research Council for Health supports researchers in clinical practice by providing them targeted funding for their part-time research and research costs. The aim of the funding is to encourage medical doctors working in clinical practice to engage in research so that they can continue to pursue their research career while in specialist training and, upon completion of that training, alongside with clinical practice.

Examples of funding recipients:

Teppo Järvinen (University of Helsinki) conducts research into osteoarthritis, the most common disease of the musculoskeletal system and one of the major health conditions in Europe with respect to the burden on society. The knee and shoulder joints are among the most commonly affected sites. The prevailing understanding regarding the aetiology, pathogenesis and treatment of degenerative knee and shoulder disease is very similar: a mechanical problem causes pain, which can be alleviated (or even cured) by arthroscopic surgery. However, to date, there is dearth of knowledge on the true efficacy of surgical procedures. The primary objective of Järvinen’s research is to address this evidence void using a sham-surgery-controlled study design.

Anna Urrila (National Institute for Health and Welfare) aims to examine the link between sleep and brain structure during adolescence. She hypothesises that poor sleep negatively affects brain maturation during adolescence and predisposes to the later development of insomnia and depressive symptoms. The project is part of IMAGEN, a large European multicenter study assessing brain structures and psychopathology during adolescence. The brain structures of the adolescents are assessed with modern imaging methods and sleep with a self-report instrument. Urrila’s research project will be conducted in a multidisciplinary research environment in close collaboration with the INSERM U1000 research group in France during 2014–2017. A better understanding of the mechanisms behind depression and insomnia can potentially lead to new insights into prevention and treatment.

Mobility a key part of the postdoctoral career

The three-year Postdoctoral Researcher funding is designed to advance the professional competence and independence of the most promising young researchers who have recently earned their doctorate. International engagement is highly important to early-career researchers and most of the Postdoctoral Researchers who were granted funding indeed intend to carry out at least part of their research abroad.

Examples of funding recipients:

Simon Pfisterer (University of Helsinki) is studying lipid accumulation in cells, an underlying cause of major public health burdens. Cholesterol accumulation in macrophages contributes to the development of atherosclerosis. Lipid droplets are the major site for cholesterol storage in macrophages. Lipid droplets consist of a lipid core surrounded by associated proteins that regulate lipid storage. Pfisterer’s project aims at characterising novel proteins that localise to lipid droplets and regulate cholesterol storage in lipid droplets. He will investigate the effects of these proteins on cholesterol storage in macrophages and analyse their influence on the development of atherosclerosis. This will provide important information on the cellular mechanisms that contribute to early susceptibility to develop atherosclerosis.

Leena Forma (University of Tampere) aims to conduct a study focusing on use and costs of hospitals and long-term care among old people from 1998 to 2013, when longevity increased and the service structures were remodelled. The use and costs of services are compared between those who lived their last two years of life and those who were of the same age but lived longer. The purpose is to find out to what extent use of different types of services was concentrated into the last phases of life. The first sample includes (almost) all those who died aged 70 and over in Finland from 1998 to 2013, the second includes 4,000 people aged 90 and over in Tampere. The information on care use will be obtained from national registers. The study will be conducted at the School of Health Sciences of the University of Tampere. The aim is to contribute to the development of services and to promote quality of life in old age.

More information:

Academy of Finland Communications
Communications Specialist Vesa Varpula
tel. +358 295 335 131

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