HiLIFE programs supporting life sciences

The University of Helsinki has broad strengths in Life Sciences as exemplified by the themes presented here. HiLIFE enhances top research through excellence-only calls and stimulate new ideas at edges of fields to provide solution to  grand challenges in multidisciplinary collaborations.

The HiLIFE Fellows program aims to nurture excellence and increase interactions among researchers from different fields of life science. The Fellows will help in developing HiLIFE in its early steps. HiLIFE Research Programs are initiating in 2018. In the Innovation and Corporate Collaboration program, HiLIFE has initiated  proof-of-concept grants and facilitated the start of SLUSH Y SCIENCE as detailed below.

The HiLIFE Fellows Program nurtures excellence and increases interactions in the area of life sciences. The HiLIFE Fellows program provides strategic competitive research support and integrates strengths across the life science campuses. HiLIFE Fellows represent outstanding life science area principal investigators at the University and are instrumental in developing HiLIFE in its early days.

Current Fellows have been selected from the 2017 Fellows call, from recipients of life science ERC grants starting in 2017 at the University of Helsinki, and from faculty recruits made from applicants to the 2016 HiLIFE Tenure Track Assistant/Associate Professor call.

HiLIFE Fellows 

A: Lauri AaltonenLaura AhtiainenKari Alitalo, Jaan-Olle Andressoo; B: Sarah Butcher; C: Eero CastrénVincenzo Cerullo; G: Leif Groop; H: Sampsa HautaniemiYrjö HelariuttaAkseli HemminkiVille HietakangasTeppo HiltunenLiisa Holm; I: Elina Ikonen; J: Jukka JernvallEija Jokitalo; K: Kai KailaJaakko KangasjärviJaakko KaprioKristiina KarhuMika KivimäkiJuha KlefströmMikael KnipJonna Kulmuni; L: Anna-Liisa LainePekka LappalainenAnna-Elina LehesjokiSanna LehtonenMiia LindströmDongfei LiuHannes LohiJohan Lundin; M: Juha MeriläMarja MikkolaSatu MustjokiAri Pekka Mähönen; N: Mikko Niemi; O: Timo OtonkoskiOtso Ovaskainen; P: Päivi PeltomäkiMari PihlatieMatti PirinenCraig Primmer; R: Samuli Ripatti; S: Pipsa Saharinen, Hélder SantosIsaac Salazar-CiudadAnu Suomalainen Wartiovaara; T: Jussi TaipaleJing TangHenna Tyynismaa; VW: Jari ValkonenMarkku VarjosaloMaria VartiainenIlpo VattulainenKrister Wennerberg, Merja VoutilainenAnna Vähärautio

HiLIFE assistant/associate professors

Juha Huiskonen, Structural biology, associate professor, HiLIFE & Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pekka Katajisto, Aging biology, associate professor, HiLIFE & Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Juha Saarikangas,Quantitative biology, assistant professor, HiLIFE & Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Rose Thorogood, Behavioural ecology, assistant professor, HiLIFE & Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Sara Wickström, Tissue architecture, associate professor, HiLIFE & Faculty of Medicine

We aim for comprehensive solutions to fight cancer. Recent scientific breakthroughs in cancer biology, genomics, and medical oncology are providing new ways to attack cancer and its microenvironments. We are working in a creative research environment that promotes the development of basic discoveries into clinical applications. In collaboration with the Helsinki University Hospital we have the only Nordic OECI-accredited Comprehensive Cancer Center. There are unique opportunities for integrative approaches from health care records to biobanks due to national efforts including a national cancer center, genome center, and biobanks.

HiLife: cancer

The brain integrates nature and nurture. Our goal is to understand the functioning of the brain from molecules to mind, development to degeneration, and genes to behaviour. Together with Helsinki University Hospital we host world-leading center in basic and cognitive neuroscience, imaging, and surgery. Our research tackle developmental, neurological and psychiatric disorders and their genetic components from model organisms to clinical trials taking advantage of cutting-edge research infrastructures in imaging and unique characteristics of the Finnish population to develop preventive and therapeutic solutions.

HiLife: Brain

Our extending lifespans, low physical activity and unhealthy diet make age-related diseases one of the today’s biggest health care challenges. We are developing solutions for healthy aging with research on metabolic diseases, mitochondria, regeneration and stem cells. Strengths include a unique homogeneous Finnish population, full coverage of health care records and registries that can be coupled to biobank data and to strong basic research.

HiLife: regereration

We aim to identify and understand interactions shaping the diversity of life and the survival of species. Understanding both the molecular interactions within individuals and the ecological interactions between individuals and populations from deep times to fast adaptation provide the knowledge for future healthy ecosystems. The university hosts the globally leading Metapopulation Research Center and has strong links with the Natural Resources Institute of Finland on the Viikki campus and University of Helsinki research stations.

HiLife: Nature

Bioeconomy is a national focus area in Finland. Plants provide us with oxygen, food, fibre, renewable energy, even medical compounds. Our research aims to understand plant growth and environmental responses from molecular signalling pathways to forest ecosystems, and thereby address challenges from crop improvement to climate change and utilizing plants in new ways.

HiLife: Growth

From soil to gut, microbes are vital throughout the food chain. We combine a strong tradition in microbiology and food safety research spanning the Viikki environmental and Meilahti medical campuses in collaboration with the Food Safety Authority Evira. By studying microbes, their communities and interactions, as well as genetics, epidemiology, ecology, and physiology, we tackle risks and maintain the health of humans, animals, and the environment.

Hilife: Microbiomes

HiLIFE  Innovation and Partnership program promotes  cooperation with other research centers,  key stakeholders and industry and is coordinated by Pia Runeberg-Roos.

Ongoing collaborations include a number of big pharma companies, startups and joint projects within the Horizon 2020 and Innovative Medicines Initiative Program carried out by HiLIFE operative units in their focus areas (biotechnology, structural biology, molecular medicine, neuroscience).

HiLIFE also supports early stage innovations through  proof-of-concept grants launched in 2017. These HiPOC grants are aimed to accelerate commercialization of research findings and development of novel technologies within life sciences at three stages: i) pre-invention disclosure; ii) pre-patent; iii) improving filed patent application. HiPOC fills the gap between early stage research findings and getting external funding for inventions and innovations. 

Together with the  Faculties of Agriculture and Forestry, Biological and Environmental Sciences, Medicine, Pharmacy, as well as Luomus HiLIFE maintains a  Life Science Stakeholder Program (HiStakes). HiStakes supports and utilizes ongoing pilots and prior experience of life science units to develop a program that involves researchers throughout life sciences. Outcomes of the  HiStakes program includes SLUSH Y SCIENCE. This is an extension of the globally renown SLUSH startup event and provides a novel platform for  interactions between scientists, companies and investors. 

In 2018 a HiLIFE Innovation and Corporate Collaboration Council will be established to stimulate and supervise activities in this area.