First HiLIFE Fellows selected

The HiLIFE Fellows program aims to nurture excellence and increase interactions among researchers from different fields of life science. The first 56 Fellows have been selected for the first 3-year round of the new program.

HiLIFE Fellows represent outstanding life science area Principal Investigators, from starters to advanced, at the University of Helsinki. In the future, Fellow's may be selected from partner organizations as well.

One of the first selected is HFSP and MSCA Fellow Jonna Kulmuni from the Department of Biosciences, who investigates how new species arise and especially which genes drive the process of speciation.

“I am extremely happy to be awarded the HiLIFE fellowship as it will support me in having more impactful start with my new research group,” Kulmuni says.

"HiLIFE Fellow program will strengthen our multidisciplinary collaborations by coupling our computational simulations and theoretical science even more concretely to cell biology, pharmacology, structural biology, bioinformatics and data sciences in contexts related to biomembranes, neurotransmission, and trafficking,” says professor Ilpo Vattulainen, another newly selected HiLIFE Fellow from the Faculty of Science.

His team focuses on computational and theoretical biological physics, where a variety of quantum-mechanical, atomistic and molecular-scale simulation techniques are used to strengthen the understanding of biological processes to promote health. The research is related to e.g. cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and concentrates on high gain projects coupled to experimental collaborations.

"The call identified outstanding scientists from very diverse areas including all six life science faculties," notes HiLIFE Director Tomi Mäkelä. "It’s great to have the Fellows' input into developing HiLIFE in its early steps."

A total of 154 eligible applications throughout life sciences were received by the HiLIFE Fellow call deadline in April.

"There was a lot of interest and questions relating to the call indicating this has been waited for. I’m glad that with the program HiLIFE is able to recognise and invest into so many of our top scientists,” says HiLIFE Head of Administration Jonna Katajisto. "The most common questions were on the eligibility criteria, and we gained important multifaceted feedback that will be taken into account in next rounds,“ Katajisto says.

The selection was made based on an external peer review on recent scientific excellence, impact and potential. Altogether 47 experts selected by the HiLIFE Board contributed to the review, and all applications were reviewed by a minimum of four reviewers.

Also Principal Investigators with life science ERC grants starting in 2017 at the University of Helsinki as well as those recruited from the 2016 HiLIFE Tenure Track Assistant/Associate Professor call were invited to the HiLIFE Fellows program, and additional selections may be made shortly pending ongoing negotiations.