An international research project focused on blood cancers granted significant funding

An international research consortium coordinated by Professor Satu Mustjoki aims to develop novel therapies for blood cancers with a poor prognosis.

The first application round for ERA PerMed funding, focused on personalised medicine, has closed. The international research projects that were awarded funding include three research groups active at the University of Helsinki.

One of the international consortia funded under this round is headed by Professor Satu Mustjoki, and a group led by Research Director Tero Aittokallio is also part of the same consortium. In addition, another consortium successful in the application round includes Professor Olli Kallioniemi’s research group.

ERA PerMed is a network composed of the European Commission and national research funding organisations which supports research projects promoting personalised medicine. The network only awards funding to international projects, encouraging researchers in multidisciplinary activities. Funded projects must combine basic and clinical research with computational methods.

The research conducted by Mustjoki’s JAKSTAT-TARGET consortium focuses on blood cancers.

“Diseases known as mature T-cell leukaemias and lymphomas are blood cancers usually associated with a very poor prognosis and no effective treatments. These diseases encompass various cancer types, but they also share certain features, such as mutations in the genes of the JAK/STAT signalling pathway,” Mustjoki says.

“We aim to understand the origin and evolution of these diseases in order to find personalised and efficacious therapies for the patients.”

The consortium is composed of six research groups, two at the University of Helsinki (Mustjoki, Aittokallio), one in Germany (Marco Herling, University of Cologne), one in Austria (Heidi Neubauer, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna) and two in Canada (Patrick Gunning, University of Toronto Mississauga and Benjamin Haibe-Kains, University Health Network (Toronto).

“The consortium includes specialists in clinical medicine, immunology, computer science and chemistry. In our research, we are utilising unique clinical specimen collections, clinical registers, novel mouse models and tools of machine learning.”

The consortium led by Mustjoki will receive €1,562,000 in ERA PerMed funding, of which €700,000 is allocated to the groups working at the University of Helsinki.

ERA PerMed funding was granted to altogether six Finnish researchers who are contributing to four different consortia. The funding is channelled through the Academy of Finland, and all funded projects will be assembled under the Personalised Health – From Genes to Society (pHealth) Academy Programme.

Further information:

Professor Satu Mustjoki, University of Helsinki


Hematology Research Unit