University of Helsinki, HUS and MSD launch partnership

The University of Helsinki, the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) and the international pharmaceutical conglomerate MSD have concluded an agreement to increase their cooperation in drug research with the specific goal of developing personalised medicine.

International competition between regional centres of medical research is becoming increasingly intense. The Academic Medical Centre Helsinki (AMCH) campus of the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Hospital have the kind of top research skills which correspond to MSD’s interests in drug and health care development. MSD is already conducting significant clinical drug trials at HUS, and they believe there is room to grow, particularly in the area of cancer and neurological illnesses. With the new contract, the AMCH campus will have a prominent place among MSD’s strategically important partners.

 “We expect that through this cooperation, the AMCH will gain more of an edge in the competition for clinical drug trials, and that MSD will conduct more experiments on our campus, particularly in the early stages of drug development,” says Risto Renkonen, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki.

 “The AMCH campus is in a very good position to become an interesting partner in the field of personalised medicine development, as it combines the University of Helsinki's genetic research excellence with the patient samples stored in biobanks," emphasises Kimmo Pitkänen, director of Helsinki Biobank.

While there has already been long-term cooperation in the field, there is still considerable potential to expand. This potential is boosted by the fact that the Finnish government is currently actively promoting infrastructure and legislation which will facilitate the use of health data stored in the biobanks.

The University of Helsinki, HUS and MSD also see cooperation opportunities in the development of tools for treating certain severe diseases, such as diabetes or hepatitis C. Both of these diseases result in significant social costs in addition to direct treatment expenses. The registers and digital systems of the AMCH provide completely new kinds of opportunities for eradicating these diseases.

 “The cooperation between MSD, the University of Helsinki and HUS is a good example of the new health cooperation efforts generated by the growth strategy for the health sector drafted by ministries, research communities and companies. It specifically answers the strategy’s call for new growth in the health sector through research investments and new types of cooperation," emphasises CEO Ilpo Tolonen from MSD.

MSD is a pharmaceutical company based in the United States and operating in 140 countries. In North America, the company operates under the trade name Merck.

More information:

Dean Risto Renkonen, University of Helsinki, tel. 029 412 5110,

Research Director Anne Pitkäranta, HUS, tel. 0406430511,

CEO Ilpo Tolonen, MSD Finland Ltd, tel. 040 581 9133,