Five consortia receive funding in follow-up call for Health from Science Academy Programme

17 Sep 2020

The Academy of Finland has selected five research consortia to receive funding under the follow-up call for the Health from Science Academy Programme. The total funding, a joint pot between the Academy of Finland, the Foundation for Paediatric Research, the Finnish Medical Foundation and the Finnish Brain Foundation, comes to 3.45 million euros for two years. The Academy’s contribution is 3 million euros.

The Health from Science (TERVA) Academy Programme seeks bold, new research initiatives that can solve health issues related to major public health diseases. The programme highlights the importance of scientific research in solving public health challenges. TERVA has taken a unique approach and implemented new forms of cooperation with foundations supporting health research.

The programme’s first funding period was three years, and the extension covers two years. Professor Mika Rämet, who chaired the steering group of the programme, said: “The funded projects are highly competitive at an international level and implemented by truly high-quality consortia. Pooling funds from the Academy and the foundations has created a solid funding base for the projects. The additional funding will ensure that the most successful projects can continue to aim to reach their full potential.

In the follow-up call, the main funding criteria were the progress made so far, the scientific quality, innovativeness, novelty and impact of the research, and how the project implements the programme’s objectives. An international panel of experts reviewed the applications.

Funding was granted to the following consortia:

Associate Professor Merja Heinäniemi (University of Eastern Finland) heads a project developing new methods for mapping the inflammatory state in order to identify changes that may prolong inflammations. The methods could be used, for instance, in monitoring early stages of coronary artery disease or metabolic syndrome. The results of the research have wide potential applicability, because the inflammation state affects the progression of many diseases.

Professor Vesa Kiviniemi (University of Oulu) heads a consortium that aims to develop a novel, multi-level treatment strategy for detected failures in the brain’s clearance mechanism. Based on observations, the consortium will produce tools for detecting failing brain clearance along with new ways to boost the clearance so that the development of Alzheimer’s disease might be slowed down or even prevented. The multi-level treatment strategy to be developed will incorporate a spectrum of options for advanced diseases states that can be tailored to suite patient treatment at individual level.

Professor Satu Mustjoki (University of Helsinki) is principal investigator of a consortium exploring the disease mechanisms underlying rheumatoid arthritis. Based on their results, the researchers aim to develop novel, more effective and better tolerated treatments. Working in
collaboration with rheumatologists, Mustjoki’s consortium has already developed a mathematical model to predict drug-induced side-effects. The results of the research could enable more individualised diagnostics and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, and thus benefit both patients and society.

Professor Kirsi Pietiläinen (University of Helsinki) heads a research project that aims to develop new personalised treatment strategies for obesity. The goal is to create a tool that can predict weight loss and develop personalised and effective treatments. The tool will be based on mitochondrial capacity in subcutaneous fat tissue: the consortium has observed that mitochondrial energy metabolism predicts success in weight loss.

Professor Sampsa Vanhatalo (University of Helsinki) leads a consortium developing solutions for early neurological diagnostics and remote monitoring and treatment of infant brains. The consortium has already developed medical infant wearables for detecting neurological abnormalities in infants more reliably and more accurately than before so that rehabilitation can be started earlier.

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