What are your research topics?
I study chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which has for reasons unknown very quickly become increasingly prevalent in the West. In Finland, currently almost 1% of the population have the disease. We aim to determine risk factors associated with the onset of the disease, the microbiome of the digestive tract in childhood and intestinal bacteria in particular being our current focus.
Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?
We are looking for methods to identify individuals with a great risk of developing the disease in order to investigate whether the onset of IBD could be suppressed or delayed. Another goal is to describe the development of the intestinal microbiota in childhood, specifically looking into the long-term effects of antibiotics and how to ensure the recovery of the intestinal microbiome after drug therapies.
What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?
At the moment, I’m interested in new collaborative projects and the fact that HELMi, our research project on the development of the microbiota in childhood and the underlying factors, has been well received by families. They have really committed to the study, and we are currently analysing the initial results.
Kaija-Leena Kolho is the Swedish-language professor of paediatrics at the Faculty of Medicine.