Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment funds Clinical Researchers, emphasises high scientific quality

27 May 2020

The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment has decided to fund 12 new posts as Clinical Researcher. The Research Council placed emphasis on the high scientific quality of the proposed research and the applicant’s qualifications and suitability. The criteria also included strong societal impact and initiatives that contribute to scientific renewal.

The Research Council felt that the scientific level of this year’s applications was excellent. The Research Council attaches great importance to the Clinical Researcher funding opportunity. In future, the aim is to encourage clinical researchers to apply for funding with an ever wider thematic scope.

In this round, the Research Council’s funding for Clinical Researchers totals around 2.4 million euros. The success rate was 31 per cent. Women accounted for some 81 per cent of the funding recipients and for 54 per cent of the applicants.

Professor Ursula Schwab, the chair of the Research Council, said: “We received applications of a very high quality. It was a pleasure to see several applications where the research career and the clinical work formed a very high-quality package that promotes both science and clinical work. There were also applications from a number of different fields, which was great.”

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

Emmi Helle from the University of Helsinki studies congenital heart diseases. Congenital heart defects are caused by abnormalities in cardiac development during the first trimester of pregnancy. These defects are known to recur within families. However, research has so far only identified a few gene variants that cause heart defects. Helle aims to identify new genes and molecular mechanisms behind congenital heart defects. To do so, she will use exome sequencing and patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). In the study, stem cells will be differentiated into heart cells and endothelial cells. The results are expected to provide information on the genetic patterns of congenital heart defects and the role of different genetic variants in the development of cardiac defects.

Aarno Dietz from Kuopio University Hospital aims to significantly improve hearing rehabilitation. Dietz intends to develop more personalised rehabilitation solutions and diagnostic tests that facilitate the assessment of rehabilitation quality and effectiveness. In Finland, this has been restricted by a lack of objective hearing tests corresponding to everyday listening situations. Dietz and his team have developed modern speech audiometric tests that simulate everyday listening situations so that the hearing performance can be objectively measured. The team has also studied electrodes and developed new surgical methods to make cochlear implant surgery safer and possible even under local anaesthesia.

Inquiries and more information:

Academy of Finland Communications
Pekka Rautio, Communications Specialist
tel. +358 295 335 040

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