Heli Simojoki appointed as associate professor in ruminant medicine in the Helsinki One Health research network

Heli Simojoki, who has been appointed as associate professor in the Helsinki One Health network, specialises in bovine infectious diseases and calf diseases. Resistance problems related to antibiotic treatments and their use are best decreased by decreasing the incidence of illnesses in animals.

The new associate professor has always liked cows.

“Cows are a versatile companion for people and provide us with high-quality protein in the form of milk and meat. I’ve been around cattle from a young age.”

Before her appointment as an associate professor, Simojoki worked as a clinical instructor of ruminant medicine in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Helsinki.

Clinical work raises questions about problems, their causes and how to manage them.

“I’m particularly interested in bovine infectious diseases and calf diseases. Resistance problems related to antibiotic treatments and their use are best decreased by decreasing the incidence of illnesses in animals.”

Heli Simojoki’s associate professorship is shared by two faculties.

“The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry have many shared interests and I hope that I can combine expertise from both of the faculties.”

Helsinki One Health focuses on research into human and animal health, welfare, and their mutual effects. Simojoki’s recent research is also closely linked with climate change.

“It is likely that great changes towards a more carbon neutral direction in livestock farming will be made in the near future. The effects of this development on cattle health and welfare must be taken into account in research conducted in the next few years.”

Other issues affecting research is cattle size and changes in animal husbandry on farms.

“Cattle size has grown even though, on a global scale, our cattle size continues to be small. Infectious diseases are more difficult to manage in large cattle sizes. Decreasing the use of antibiotics is part of disease control, since we have already, for a long time, avoided giving unnecessary antibiotic treatments.”

Helsinki One Health is a widely multidisciplinary network and Simojoki considers its ability to offer varying perspectives on the issue studied as one of its benefits. For example, research on the entire food chain needs this kind of approach. Simojoki considers the future of research into "one health" bright: 

“Even though research is often focused on minute details, I hope science can also be utilised to form a larger overall picture.

One health is currently a topical and important subject.

"Humans do not differ much from animals biologically and we share the same living environment. What we do to animals and nature affects us all,” says Simojoki.

The HOH Helsinki One Health research network is based at the University of Helsinki and combines research into the health and welfare of animals and humans. You can follow the HOH network on Twitter @HelsinkiOneFacebook, and LinkedIn.