Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment decides on Postdoctoral Researcher funding, focuses on collaboration and quality

27 Apr 2020

The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment has decided to fund 33 new posts as Postdoctoral Researcher. This year, besides the high scientific quality of the application and the qualifications of the applicant, the Research Council put particular emphasis on the applicants’ existing national and international cooperation networks.

Postdoctoral Researcher funding supports the most talented researchers who have recently completed their doctoral degree in gaining competence for demanding researcher or expert positions. It is also aimed at assisting the transition towards an independent research career.

The new Postdoctoral Researchers will receive funding for three years. The Research Council’s total funding for the new posts comes to 9 million euros. The success rate was approximately 16%. Around 73% of the funded Postdoctoral Researchers are women, compared to 58% of the applicants.

Professor Ursula Schwab, Chair of the Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment, said: “The Postdoctoral Researcher applications were of very high quality this year. We granted funding to promising researchers who had submitted innovative applications that were of a particularly high standard and included international collaboration.” All funded applications had received a rating of either 6 or 5.

In line with the Academy of Finland’s general funding policies, Postdoctoral Researchers are required to be closely connected to the Finnish scientific community so that the funding benefits Finnish research and society. This means that the funding will be administered by a Finnish organisation. The funding is intended for the Postdoctoral Researcher’s salary, personal research costs as well as international and national mobility.

The Research Council funded several scientifically excellent researchers. Here are a few examples:

Nina Mars from the University of Finland studies hereditary breast cancer. Genetics can be used for identifying individuals who harbour high-risk mutations that increase the risk for breast cancer. But breast cancer also has a polygenic mode of inheritance that is measurable through genetic risk scores and that can help identify women with a substantially higher risk of developing breast cancer. In her project, Mars will make use of Finnish registers and the FinnGen study, which includes nearly 500,000 samples. Mars aims to investigate whether genetic risk scores can be used for improving the precision of breast cancer risk assessment. and for assessing the need for individualised breast cancer screening or the prediction of breast cancer.

Carolina Voigt from the University of Eastern Finland aims to explore the role of the Arctic region in climate change. The Arctic region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. Arctic ecosystems play an important role in climate change due to their large carbon stocks. These carbon stocks may be released into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases as the Arctic warms up. While Arctic wetlands are known to be major sources of methane, not much is known about the capacity of Arctic upland tundras to absorb atmospheric methane. The project will shed light on how methane uptake varies on a diurnal and seasonal scale and identify the dominant environmental controls on the uptake. Using high-precision gas flux measurements, stable isotope and microbial studies, Voigt will produce new knowledge of whether the Arctic region may be an underestimated methane sink.

Petteri Hyvärinen from Aalto University seeks to develop methods to identify individuals with an increased risk of noise-induced hearing loss. Exposure to loud sounds can be harmful for hearing, but the specific effects of such noise are very individual. At present, however, hearing loss is usually diagnosed only after significant degradation in hearing sensitivity has already occurred. There is therefore a need for more sensitive measures of hearing that would indicate the individual response of the auditory system to noise exposure. Identifying those who are at the greatest risk of noise-induced hearing loss would allow preventive actions to be taken before irreversible hearing damage occurs. Hyvärinen will assess this reaction to everyday sound environments using a novel mobile-device-based approach.

Inquiries and more information:

Do you have questions or feedback for us?