The most impressive scientific findings

Thomson Reuters highlighted six University of Helsinki researchers on its list of the world’s most influential scientific minds of 2014. Finland did best in geosciences, molecular biology and genetics.

In June, Thomson Reuters, one of the best known evaluators of research results and findings, published a list of researchers cited with particular frequency by their peers. The list came to include some 3,200 researchers, chosen based on the citations they accumulated over the past 11 years.

Titled the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds 2014, the publication highlights 14 researchers working primarily at Finnish universities or research institutes. Their fields of interest include geosciences, medicine, agricultural sciences, biosciences, pharmacology, microbiology and genetics.

Sweden got nearly 30 and France over 80 names on the list. As usual, the top spot went to the US.

6 × University of Helsinki

Six of the Finnish star researchers have the University of Helsinki as their primary affiliation on the list. Moreover, Professor Emeritus Jaakko Tuomilehto, representing Austria, and FiDiPro professor Leif Groop, scoring for Sweden, both have close ties to Helsinki. For years, the two have made major contributions to diabetes research conducted on the Meilahti campus.

Of the other Finns on the list, four are from government research institutes, three from the University of Eastern Finland and one from the University of Oulu. In terms of fields, Finland is strongest in geosciences, molecular biology and genetics.

Pharmaceuticals and the heart

Aside from Groop, Tuomilehto and Professor Leena Palotie, who died of cancer in 2010, the Thomson Reuters list includes two other Meilahti-related researchers, namely Professor Mikko Niemi and cardiologist Markku S. Nieminen, head of the cardiology unit at the Helsinki University Hospital. Professor Nieminen’s unit handles all heart transplants in Finland.

Professor Niemi, in turn, studies the genetic variation of cell-membrane transport proteins that carry drugs to cells in humans. One of his most influential publications deals with the potential adverse effects of statins, which are used to regulate cholesterol levels. Professor Niemi’s team has found a genetic mutation that affects the properties of a transport protein in the liver and may explain the adverse effects.

Food safety and the future of the atmosphere

On the geosciences list, the University of Helsinki is represented by Academy Professor Markku Kulmala as well as Professor Tuukka Petäjä, who works in the Centre of Excellence led by Professor Kulmala. Also on the list is research professor Veli-Matti Kerminen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute. A member of Professor Kulmala’s CoE, Kerminen worked as a professor at the University of Helsinki from 2009 to 2010.

Professor Kulmala’s team studies the atmosphere and its interactions with various ecosystems in an effort to further our insight into climate change processes.

The Viikki Campus is represented on the list by Academy Professor Willem de Vos, a specialist in molecular microbiology at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. Like Leif Groop, de Vos was recruited to Finland as a FiDiPro professor.

Willem de Vos studies the diversity, wellbeing and functions of human gut microbiota. Of special interest in his research project is Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, a probiotic commonly used in dairy products.