Heli Skottman and Sampsa Hyysalo receive 2010 Academy of Finland Awards


The Academy of Finland has on Thursday 14 October 2010 awarded the 2010 Academy of Finland Awards to Academy Research Fellow Heli Skottman from the University of Tampere and to Postdoctoral Researcher Sampsa Hyysalo from the University of Helsinki. Skottman is recipient of the Academy of Finland Award for scientific courage, Hyysalo of the Academy of Finland Award for social impact.

Heli Skottman develops new tools for the treatment of retinal diseases

Academy Research Fellow Heli Skottman is currently head of the Ophthalmology Group at the Regea Institute for Regenerative Medicine, University of Tampere. Skottman and her team are working on human pluripotent stem cells and other biomaterials to develop new tissue-engineering tools for the examination and treatment of retinal diseases of the eye. Serious retinal diseases such as age-related degeneration are a source of great difficulty for the people affected, for their families and for an ageing society. No effective methods are currently available for the repair of damaged retinal structures and for restoring the patient’s eyesight. Heli Skottman has decided to tackle this challenge, showing exceptional scientific courage.

“We’re all well aware of the magnitude of the challenge, but of course it’s also an extremely interesting one. We don’t yet know how to control the differentiation of stem cells into one particular functional cell type. The cells we produce must function in their natural manner. With this in mind our aim in the laboratory is to create and test as widely as possible different biochemical and biophysical conditions in the cell growth environment,” Skottman explains.

“International competition in the field is tough and pushing us to find novel and original solutions  to these problems. The work we do is firmly grounded in multidisciplinary cooperation. There’s no question that without this cooperation we would have absolutely no chance of achieving the desired results.”

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

Sampsa Hyysalo interested to research ossified practices and working methods

Based at the University of Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Postdoctoral Researcher Sampsa Hyysalo is interested in the development, reception and adoption of social and technological innovations. In his Postdoctoral Researcher’s project, he has tackled issues that are of great current importance and interest, such as the renewal of health care technologies. The development of new technologies and genuinely usable systems is often hampered by ossified practices, attitudes, working methods and roles. Hyysalo is particularly interested to study the learning and activities of various communities of practice.

“The work I’m doing will give citizens and professionals a better chance to impact technological development by supporting their involvement and by providing them with the tools they need to critically assess technology projects. For people working in product development, my research provides valuable information on how to work with end-users over the technology life span,” Hyysalo says.

Throughout his research career, Sampsa Hyysalo has been interested to explore technology and innovations from different angles. He has also worked in the field of applied innovation development. Hyysalo has published extensively. 

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

Academy of Finland Awards designed to offer recognition and encouragement

The Academy of Finland announced its awards to promising researchers for the eighth time. Recipients shall hold the position of Academy Research Fellow or Postdoctoral Researcher with Academy funding. Nominations are submitted by the Academy’s Research Councils to the Academy Board, who makes the final decision. The purpose of the awards is to recognise and encourage outstanding researchers with dynamic career prospects and to highlight goals and objectives that the Academy considers important. The award recipients are presented with a mouth-blown glass ornament by Miia Liesegang.

Photos of Heli Skottman and Sampsa Hyysalo are available on the Academy website at To find the photos, search with ‘Academy Day 2010’ or the persons’ names.

Photos taken at the event will be available via the Finnish News Agency STT from around 5.30 p.m. on 14 October at

More information:

- Vice President (Administration) Ossi Malmberg, Academy of Finland, tel. +358 9 7748 8230, ossi.malmberg(at)
- Academy Research Fellow Heli Skottman, Regea Institute for Regenerative Medicine, tel. +358 50 396 9645, heli.skottman(at)
- Postdoctoral Researcher Sampsa Hyysalo, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 41 529 1719, sampsa.hyysalo(at)


Academy of Finland Communications
Communications Specialist Risto Alatarvas
tel. +358 9 774 88 345, +358 40 828 0648

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