What are your research topics?
My group is investigating paediatric congenital liver and biliary tract diseases, as well as development disorders of the intestine. Our goal is to determine the central mechanisms of these diseases, which cause organ damage and functional disturbances. Success would make it possible to develop increasingly effective therapies.
Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?
Congenital biliary atresia, one of our primary research targets, remains the most common reason for children's liver transplantations throughout the world. It is associated with liver damage that progresses for an unknown reason. A pharmaceutical treatment preventing such damage could substantially reduce the need for liver transplantations in patients with biliary atresia and other congenital disorders that block the flow of bile.
What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?
As with many other diseases, genetic research that utilises the collection of tissue specimens also quickly increases understanding of disease mechanisms for these diseases. Our group is contributing to such research, and it will be interesting to see whether new research findings will lead, in the foreseeable future, to breakthroughs evidenced in patient care.
Mikko Pakarinen is a professor of paediatric surgery at the Faculty of Medicine.