Academy of Finland Awards to Hannes Lohi and Jan Lundell

Two researchers receive Academy of Finland Awards

The Academy of Finland Awards have been presented to two researchers at the Academy's annual Science Gala in Helsinki on Tuesday 23 October. The awards went to Hannes Lohi, Academy Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor in Molecular Biology, and Jan Lundell, Academy Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor in Physical Chemistry, who are both based at the University of Helsinki. Lohi's research team also belongs to Folkhälsan Research Centre. Lohi was recognized for his scientific courage, Lundell for the social impact of his work.

Academy of Finland Award for scientific courage goes to genome researcher

Academy Research Fellow Hannes Lohi's research interests lie in the genetic background and inheritance of epilepsy. He has launched a genetic research programme at the University of Helsinki that is aimed at identifying genetic defects related to hereditary diseases in different dog breeds. In Finland this marks a whole new approach to studying genetic diseases, making use of canine genome data to explore the heredity of certain similar diseases in both dogs and humans.

Dog breeding programmes provide an excellent source of research material for geneticists. Dogs are second only to humans in the incidence of genetic diseases, and the best-known among canine diseases are very similar to the corresponding diseases in humans. The canine model identified by Lohi has played a major part in attempting to understand the aetiology of epilepsy.

The research undertaken by Lohi has many potential applications in the promotion of human and canine health. A further aim of his research is to help develop better treatments. Lohi is building a Finnish databank of canine DNA samples that will contribute to clarifying the genetic background of both canine and human diseases.

The Academy of Finland Award for scientific courage is granted to a researcher who has shown exceptional scientific audacity, creativity or innovation in their work. The award can also be granted for a novel or original research idea, for forward-looking work that transcends scientific boundaries or for a willingness to take risks in research. 

Academy of Finland Award for social impact granted for the promotion of chemistry teaching

Academy Research Fellow Jan Lundell has significantly promoted the use of computer-aided chemistry in chemistry teaching and in chemistry teacher training. He has produced educational materials both for university teacher training programmes and for supplementary training courses for upper secondary school chemistry teachers.

Lundell has played an active and pivotal role in the start-up of eChemicum, the chemistry information and communication technologies centre at the University of Helsinki, and served as coordinator for the Chemistry Information Networks project at the Department of Chemistry: this is a virtual education project designed to promote and coordinate the systematic application of ICT in chemistry research, classroom teaching and studying. The knowhow gained in this project will be put to use in teacher training courses organised by the Centre for Chemistry Education at the University of Helsinki.

Lundell's goal is to improve the quality of chemistry teaching and to enhance the pedagogic skills of chemistry teachers. "Studying chemistry shouldn't be a matter of learning by heart. Molecular modelling, for instance, provides a hands-on experience where pupils in the classroom can experiment and build. It's a great way of stimulating interest in chemistry, which will no longer seem hard and boring but, on the contrary, easy and interesting. Teachers need to be taught how to use computers so that chemistry can be taught and learned in a new way," Lundell points out.

The Academy of Finland Award for social impact is granted to a researcher who has significantly contributed to increasing public awareness of scientific research or the researcher's job, who has inspired interest in science, who has actively contributed to public debate in society or otherwise strengthened the role, application and impact of research in society.

Nominees for the Academy of Finland's Awards shall hold the position of Academy Research Fellow or work as Academy-funded Postdoctoral Researchers. Nominations are submitted by the Research Councils to the Academy's Board, who makes the final decision. This is the fifth time that the awards have been announced. Previously they were known as the Academy's Recognition and Incentive Awards. The award recipients are presented with a mouth-blown glass ornament by Miia Liesegang.

For further information, contact
- Vice President (Administration) Hedvig Mikkolanniemi, Academy of Finland, tel. +358 9 7748 8230,
- Academy Research Fellow Hannes Lohi, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 9 191 25085,
- Academy Research Fellow Jan Lundell, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 9 191 50165,
- For photos of the award recipients, please call +358 9 7748 8369 or e-mail
- Introductory videos on the Award recipients will be posted on the Academy of Finland website at 6.00 pm on 23 October; go to > Tiedevideoita (only in Finnish).

Academy of Finland Communications
Communications SpecialistTiina Raivo
tel. + 358 9 7748 8369, +358 40 828 1724

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