As defined by the Academy of Finland, Centres of Excellence conduct research with great potential to achieve scientific breakthroughs and promote science renewal. The Academy expects the CoEs’ research to have impact beyond academia as well.
The new CoE focuses on studying complex genetic diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease as well as neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and addiction using large scale genetics and genomics. Besides identifying common risk variants and high-impact low-frequency alleles, the researchers aim to develop, test and implement strategies for genomic precision medicine.
The CoE is co-chaired by Tiinamaija Tuomi and the team consists of eight additional principal investigators from HiLIFE/FIMM and the Faculty of Medicine: Mark Daly, Martti Färkkilä, Leif Groop, Jaakko Kaprio, Benjamin Neale, Aarno Palotie, Matti Pirinen and Elisabeth Widén. There are also strong local connections to the Helsinki University Hospital and National Institute for Health and Welfare as well as to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.
The new CoE funding scheme period covers eight years. The competition was tough as the CoE 2016 call attracted a total of 179 letters of intent. Thirty-four applicants were invited to the second call stage to submit full applications, reviewed by international expert panels.
This project will enable us to move on from identification of genetic variants toward utilizing these in personalized medicine approaches.
- Leader of the Complex Disease Genetics CoE, Professor Samuli Ripatti
The international evaluators stated in their written feedback that the PIs of the Complex Disease Genetics CoE form a strong group of researchers with an impressive track record and a record of existing collaboration. According to the panelists, the mains strengths of the proposal are the cutting-edge approaches, great access to cohorts, to ability of the team to develop new and innovative strategies and the scale, ambition and enthusiasm of the proposal.
University of Helsinki also hosts two other new Centres of Excellence in life sciences highlighting its strength in this area. These CoEs concentrate on Stem Cell Metabolism and Tumor Genomics. Read more about the other CoEs here.