Academy of Finland funds topical, high-impact and innovative Postdoctoral Researchers in biosciences, health and environment

3 May 2021

In its Postdoctoral Researcher funding decisions, the Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment stressed the high scientific quality of research and the pursuit of international collaboration.

The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment today decided to fund 33 new posts as Postdoctoral Researcher. In addition to the high scientific quality of the research plan and the competence of the applicant, this year the Research Council particularly emphasised the planned international research cooperation and mobility. The Research Council made the decisions taking into account the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on mobility and mobility plans, but it stresses that international cooperation involves a lot more than the applicant’s own mobility.

Professor Ursula Schwab, Chair of the Research Council, said: “The applications were of a high quality. Funding was granted to promising researchers whose innovative applications included justified and top-level international collaboration.” All funded applications had received a rating of either 6 or 5.

The new Postdoctoral Researchers will receive funding for three years. The Research Council’s total funding for the new posts comes to some 9 million euros. The success rate was approximately 15%. This year, around 52% of the funding recipients are women, and their proportion was the same among the applicants.

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.

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. 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:

Melissa Meierhofer (University of Helsinki). Meierhofer studies how bats can carry several potentially harmful zoonotic pathogens. There are currently no existing data on how bat ecology is reflected in the dynamics of pathogens they carry, or how a changing climate may affect this. Meierhofer will examine the prevalence and dynamics of pathogens in three bat species with different migratory behaviours. An understanding of the composition of the pathogens of migratory species can help able to predict shifts and the risks to humans, perhaps for the next possible zoonotic disease that may affect the human population.

Toni Grönroos (University of Turku). Grönroos studies type 1 diabetes, which has high prevalence in developed countries. It has severe long-term complications and constitutes a significant challenge to the healthcare system. The objective of Grönroos’ research is to improve our understanding of the disease process by studying changes in immune cells during the early stages of disease development. Another aim is to discover and validate these changes that could potentially be used to predict, diagnose and monitor type 1 diabetes. The project combines expertise and methods from different disciplines, cutting-edge experimental methods and computational systems biology. The overall aim is to discover new opportunities for early prevention and treatment of the disease.

Charlotte Angove (Natural Resources Institute Finland). Angove studies hydrogen isotopes. Forests play an important role as a carbon sink. In 2019, Finnish forests were a carbon sink for 50% of Finland’s carbon dioxide emissions, not including emissions by land use and forestry. Forests are also significantly important for Finland’s bioeconomy. Climate change significantly affects tree functioning, especially in northern latitudes, but these effects are not yet sufficiently understood. Chemicals in annual tree rings (e.g. the stable isotope ratio of hydrogen, δ²H) provide dateable archives of climate change effects to tree growth and carbon sequestration. Angove will investigate this poorly understood chemical tracer to help better understand tree responses to climate change and to improve predictions of how trees respond to climate change.

Inquiries and more information

  • List of funded researchers
  • Funding criteria and policies of the Research Council for Biosciences, Health and the Environment
  • Outi Ala-Honkola, Science Adviser, tel. +358 295 335 029, firstname.lastname(at)
  • Laura Forsström, Science Adviser, tel. +358 295 335 041, firstname.lastname(at)
  • Harri Hautala, Science Adviser, tel. +358 295 335 019, firstname.lastname(at)
  • Päivi Lindfors, Science Adviser, tel. +358 295 335 028, firstname.lastname(at)
  • Rita Rinnankoski-Tuikka, Science Adviser, tel. +358 295 335 096, firstname.lastname(at)
  • Marko Uutela, Science Adviser, tel. +358 295 335 113, firstname.lastname(at)
  • Vesa Yli-Pelkonen, Science Adviser, tel. +358 295 335 095, firstname.lastname(at)

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

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