The winner of this year’s Leena Peltonen prize, awarded at the ESHG annual meeting being held in Vienna, Austria, is Dr. Andrea Ganna, from the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), HiLIFE, University of Helsinki and Harvard Medical School. The prize is awarded to an outstanding young researcher in the field of human genetics, and honours the memory of Dr. Leena Peltonen, a world-renowned human geneticist from Finland who died in 2010 and who contributed greatly to the identification of disease genes for human diseases.
Andrea Ganna started as a FIMM-EMBL group leader at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), University of Helsinki in 2019. He did his post-doc at the Analytical and Translation Genetic Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and his PhD at Karolinska Institute. His research interests concern the intersection between epidemiology, genetics, and statistics, and to that end he started the FinRegistry project. FinRegistry uses nationwide registry data to build machine learning models to help better understand and predict the onset of diseases in the Finnish population. In 2020, he received ERC starting grant for his project “AI-PREVENT”.
He has authored and co-authored both methodological and applied papers focusing on leveraging large-scale epidemiological datasets to identify novel sociodemographic, metabolic, and genetic markers of common complex diseases. He currently leads two major international consortia: the COVID-19 host genetics initiative and the H2020 INTERVENE consortium. His research vision is to integrate genetic data and information from electronic health records/national health registries to enhance the early detection of common diseases and public health interventions.
Andrea Ganna is the fifth Leena Peltonen award winner, joining Cecilia Lindgren, Ben Neale, Tuuli Lappalainen and Gosia Trynka.
"Andrea's cutting-edge work at the interface of epidemiology and genetics, innovative use of registry-based data, and leadership efforts in international efforts such as the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative made him a clear choice. For those of us who worked with and knew Leena and her importance to the founding of FIMM, it is a particularly proud moment that the recipient of this prestigious award for the first time is awarded to a FIMM Group Leader", said Mark Daly, Director of FIMM.