Three new life science Centres of Excellence to the University of Helsinki

Three national Centres of Excellence in life sciences are hosted at the University of Helsinki highlighting its strength in this area. The new Centres focus on Complex Disease Genetics, Stem Cell Metabolism, and Cancer Genetics.

Centres of Excellence (CoE) conduct research with great potential to achieve scientific breakthroughs and promote science renewal. They can contribute to the renewal of science by supplying new research topics, new methods and approaches, and new combinations of research teams. 

Academy of Finland selected 12 new Centres of Excellence on 1 June. Seven of them are hosted at the University of Helsinki, and the following three focus on life sciences.

Complex Disease Genetics Centre of Excellence

"This project will enable us to move on from identification of genetic variants toward utilizing these in personalized medicine approaches," says the leader of the Complex Disease Genetics CoE, Professor Samuli Ripatti.

The team consists of six additional principal investigators from the Faculty of Medicine and HiLIFE/Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland: Mark Daly, Leif Groop, Jaakko Kaprio, Aarno Palotie, Matti Pirinen and Tiinamaija Tuomi. There are also strong local connections to the Helsinki University Hospital and National Institute for Health and Welfare as well as to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.

Stem Cell Metabolism Centre of Excellence

"Eight year funding for this new project provides a unique opportunity to aim high in our goal to understand the interplay between cell stemness and metabolism," notes Associate Professor Pekka Katajisto, the leader the new Stem Cell Metabolism CoE.

The newly established team has three additional principal investigators: Associate Professor Henna Tyynismaa, Professor Timo Otonkoski, and Associate Professor Ville Hietakangas. The interdisciplinary approach spans from studies on fruit fly glucose metabolism to translational models of diabetes and the groups work on both the Viikki and Meilahti campuses within HiLIFE/Institute of Biotechnology and at the Faculties of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Medicine.

Tumor Genomics Centre of Excellence

"Its great that Academy chose to support our project linking Finnish Cancer Registry, tumor genomics research, public genomics sources and annotation of the regulatory genome. The Centre takes advantage of the strong traditions of Finland in functional genetics, bioinformatics and national registries to unravel the genetic changes critical for tumor development," says Academy Professor Lauri Aaltonen, the leader of the Tumor Genomics CoE.

The Centre Director Aaltonen and Vice Director Jussi Taipale work at the Research Programs Unit of the Faculty of Medicine and the two additional principal investigators are Professor Matti Nykter (University of Tampere) and Director for Statistics Janne Pitkäniemi (Finnish Cancer Registry). 

More information

Academy of Finland Centres of Excellence coordinated by the University of Helsinki