€17.6m granted for biosciences and environmental research

25 May 2016

The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Biosciences and Environment received 263 applications for Academy Project funding in the September 2015 call. The Research Council has now decided to fund 39 applications, which puts this year’s success rate at 15 per cent. The Research Council’s total funding granted under the Academy Project scheme amounts to some 17.6 million euros.

Since 2013, the Research Council for Biosciences and Environment has seen a 21 per cent cut to its budget authority. Over the same period, however, applications to the Academy’s various funding schemes have increased by 11–35 per cent. This has forced the Research Council to scale down its funding amounts, especially in the case of Academy Project funding.

Examples of funded projects:

Ruminants such as cattle and sheep produce millions of kilos of methane and other significant environmental emissions each year in Finland alone. These animals need to be treated with synthetic antiparasitic drugs to keep infections by gastrointestinal roundworms in check. This in turn increases the risks on the environment and food quality, as roundworms are becoming increasingly resistant to the drugs and as doses are increasing. Juha-Pekka Salminen (University of Turku) heads a research project that will try to find an alternative solution to control both environmental emissions and nematode infections by naturally including a certain type of tannin into the feeds given to ruminants. Salminen’s project aims at uncovering the plant species that would contain the most active tannins and also the tannins that are needed to stabilise the activity.

Previous studies have established an association between moisture damage, subsequent microbial growth in buildings and deteriorating respiratory health. Thus far, however, efforts to identify the exact culprit have failed. Anne Hyvärinen (National Institute for Health and Welfare) and Kati Huttunen (University of Eastern Finland) head a research project that aims to pin down the microbial signatures of moisture damage and recognise damp-building-related cellular signals in human lung tissues. The project will utilise existing data as well as recruit new moisture-damaged and reference homes to be studied. The work aims at translating the microbiological and toxicological signatures of moisture damage into quantitative measurement approaches. This will provide key elements to future research on mechanisms of adverse health effects. Ultimately, the results of the project will also help people dealing with and working on damp buildings.

Microplastics are small, potentially hazardous plastic particles commonly found in aquatic systems. Although previous studies have verified that many marine organisms ingest microplastics, the biological impacts of the phenomenon remain largely unknown. The pressures behind microplastics loads vary by region. The project headed by Maiju Lehtiniemi (Finnish Environment Institute) and Arto Koistinen (University of Eastern Finland) will focus on some of the most crucial knowledge gaps that hinder efficient management of microplastics in urban areas. The project will investigate microplastics emissions in stormwater and their impact on aquatic biota in Finnish coastal waters and freshwaters. The project is an efficient mix of high-quality knowledge on the dynamics of Baltic Sea and Lake Kallavesi food webs, methodological expertise and the newest infrastructure on material characterisation.

More information

  • List of funded projects
  • Science Adviser Jaana Lehtimäki, firstname.lastname(at), tel. +358 295 335 060
  • Science Adviser Päivi Lindfors, firstname.lastname(at), tel. +358 295 335 028
  • Science Adviser Timo Sareneva, firstname.lastname(at), tel. +358 295 335 106
  • Science Adviser Kata-Riina Valosaari, firstname.lastname(at), tel. +358 295 335 128

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

Last modified 20 Jun 2016
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