Funding of €2.5 million to research in health inequalities as well as the logic of the concepts of dependence and independence

The European Research Council (ERC) awards Advanced Grants for groundbreaking and ambitious projects with a potential for an extremely high-level impact.

Professor of Demography Pekka Martikainen and Professor of Mathematics Jouko Väänänen have both been awarded a five-year Advanced Grant by the European Research Council. The grants are awarded to established researchers with a track record of significant research achievements.

Professor Martikainen’s ERC-funded project is aimed at understanding the causes of health inequalities and related change. Health and mortality inequalities between different social groups occur everywhere in the world, and the differences have grown over the past 30 years. Differences in life expectancy between people with a low or high income can be as great as those seen between smokers and non-smokers.

In a project entitled ‘Social inequalities in population health: integrating evidence from longitudinal, family-based and genetically informed data’, researchers are looking into the intergenerational nature and long-term change of health inequalities, as well as the combined effect of social and genetic factors on health and health inequalities. The project also explores the causes of health inequalities in different countries.

The research carried out in the project brings together perspectives and approaches from a number of disciplines. The research data utilised by Martikainen's group comprise an internationally unique mix of population registers and survey datasets that contain genetic and clinical data.

The data extend over several decades and cover as many as four generations, enabling research designs that are better equipped to verify causalities compared to traditional social research and epidemiological studies. In other words, they make it possible to increasingly effectively direct measures aimed at promoting health and reducing health inequalities.

The Population Research Unit headed by Pekka Martikainen conducts groundbreaking research on health inequalities between social groups. This work has helped to understand the causes and trends of mortality inequalities in Finland.

The logic of concepts associated with dependence, quantum mechanics and foundations of mathematics

In its ERC-funded project ‘Team semantics and dependence logic’, the group led by Professor of Mathematics Jouko Väänänen investigates the logic of dependence and independence.

The polarity between absolute certainty and multiplicity, a phenomenon seen in, among other things, quantum mechanics and set theory, is studied through the lens of the concepts of dependence and independence. These are introduced into traditional logic in the interest of identifying the rules of logic which dependence and independence obey.

The concepts of dependence and independence are familiar from society and a range of scientific fields. In the project, the logic of these concepts will be developed. Uncovering such logic opens new avenues for applications in biology, philosophy, physics, logic, mathematics, game theory, economics, artificial intelligence, computer science and statistics.


ERC promotes top-level research

The European Research Council (ERC) is one of the most esteemed funders of research. With a multidisciplinary approach, it promotes top-level research by awarding long-term research grants. 

Advanced Grants are targeted at established researchers at the top of their field. There are currently several ERC-funded research projects ongoing at the University of Helsinki.