Federico Bianchi is a specialist in atmospheric sciences at the Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR). He studies the fine particles found in the atmosphere that have an effect on the climate. A number of uncertainties are still associated with the overall effect of such particles.

Bianchi’s particular research focus is the original formation of atmospheric fine particles from gas molecules emitted into the atmosphere. The research involves field observations in pristine and extreme environments, such as the Arctic, Siberia, mountain ranges and oceans.

Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

Chasing pre-industrial aerosols, 2019–2024

    The Bayesian statistics group (BSG), at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, led by professor Jukka Corander focuses on statistical machine learning, inference for intractable models and on evolutionary epidemiology using genomics. Corander is also a group leader of HIIT.

    His ERC Strating Grant funded project focused on stochastic computational and modeling strategies. The research group developed methods that overcame problems associated with the analysis of highly complex data sets. The aim was to be able to solve a multitude of statistical learning problems for data sets which cannot yet be reliably handled in practice by any of the existing Bayesian tools.

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Intelligent Stochastic Computation Methods for Complex Statistical Model Learning, 2009–2014

    Cory Dunn and his group are studying the consequences of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) damage at the cellular level. Nearly one in 5000 people inherit mtDNA mutations that can cause diseases. Others are afflicted with mtDNA-associated diseases after long-term treatment with anti-viral or anti-cancer agents. Throughout their lifespan, humans accumulate damage to their mtDNA, also raising the possibility that mtDNA damage promotes aging.

    In the long term, Dunn's team is using the ERC-funding to find genetic and pharmacological methods by which we can increase the fitness of human cells with impaired mitochondria. Dunn and his team expect to identify new avenues toward the treatment of mitochondrial diseases.

    Project's name and duration:

    Deciphering and reversing the consequences of mitochondrial DNA damage, 2015–2020

    Mikael Ehn from the University of Helsinki’s Department of Physics continues his research into atmospheric vapours with ERC funding.

    Read more about the COALA project

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Comprehensive molecular characterization of secondary organic aerosol formation in the atmosphere, 2015–2020

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Akseli Hemminki: Oncolytic adenoviruses expressing monoclonal antibody trastuzumab for treatment of Her-2+ cancer, 2008–2014

    Ville Hietakangas works at the Department of Biosciences. In his ERC funded project he and his team studied the messages that the organism of a fruit fly sends about its nutritional status. Among other things, the team has discovered a genetic mutation in a fly that severely disturbs glucose metabolism.

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Transcriptional networks in glucose sensing, 2012–2017

    Josephine Hoegaerts studies the political landscape of the 19th century as well as the impact of political rhetoric in European countries and their colonies. Her ERC-funded project focuses on how vocal performances in parliament have influenced the course of political careers and political decision making in the 19th century.

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Vocal Articulations of Parliamentary Identity and Empire, 2018–2023

    Iiris Hovatta, associate professor in neurogenomics, specializes in Anxiety disorders which are the most common mental disorders within the EU and cause considerable disability due to high prevalence (14 %), early onset and chronic nature. The major questions in anxiety disorders are which molecular events lead to and maintain pathological anxiety, and how this pathology can be normalized.

    Starting Grant opened a new phase in Hovatta's research which concentrates on the genetic background of anxiety disorders. ERC funded project aimed to identify gene networks involved in the regulation of anxiety, in addition to individual susceptibility genes.

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    A cross-species neurogenomics approach to anxiety, 2012–2017

    Tuomas Hytönen is a mathematician whose ERC funded project consists of an extensive research program to advance the understanding of singular integral operators of Harmonic Analysis in various situations on the borderline of the existing theory. The work combines techniques from Analysis and Probability.

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Analytic-probabilistic methods for borderline singular integrals, 2011–2016

    Professor and evolutionary biologist Anna-Liisa Laine studies the development of disease resistance. Her ERC funded research focuses on plants, but the mechanisms of diseases and immunity are very similar in other species as well. Laine wants to find out how plants in particular, and any individuals and populations in general, survive and develop their resistance under continuous attack by multiple pathogens.

    Read more about the study

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Resistance evolution in response to spatially variable pathogen communities, 2017–2022
    Starting Grant: Linking Pathogen Evolution and Epidemiology, 2011–2016


    Philosopher Maria Lasonen-Aarnio is formulating and defending a novel approach in epistemology, which hypothesizes that for a wide range of key evaluative notions, competence is neither necessary nor sufficient for success. The main objectives of her ERC-funded research project are to

    1. develop the theoretical foundations for her novel approach
    2. demonstrate how recognizing both cases of competent failure and incompetent success solves highly current problems and puzzles
    3. investigate and ultimately reject as theoretically important the notion of structural rationality as well as offer an alternative, competence-based explanation
    4. explore generalizations of the results of the previous parts of the project to the practical and moral domains

    Lasonen-Aarnio's project website

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Competence and Success in Epistemology and Beyond, 2018–2022

    Assistant professor Sanna Lehtonen studies kidney diseases. In ERC funded research she consentrated on insulin resistance and diabetic nephropathy in her ERC funded project.

    Read more about the research

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Insulin resistance and diabetic nephropathy – development of novel in vivo models for drug discovery, 2009–2014

    Professor Hannes Lohi and his research group focuses on the development of canine models of human complex diseases. Their approach takes advantage of an experiment initiated by man 15,000 years ago, taming of the wolf and, more recently, generating 400 strictly inbred pure dog breeds. Canine purebreeding has resulted in highly uniform genomes within each breed, in which the “noise” of background genetic variation is reduced making it easier to detect genetic “signals” that contribute to disease.

    Read more about the research

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Starting Grant: Canine models of human psychiatric disease: identifying novel anxiety genes with the help of man's best friend, 2010–2015

    Geographer Enrico di Minin is using his ERC Starting Grant to investigate poaching and trafficking of endangered animals in social media. Social media is one of the centres of trafficking. In their work, di Minin's research group is combining biology, geosciences, computer science, social sciences and economics. Their aim is to develop tools to better uncover the trafficking process from among the data mass of social media.

    Ultimately, di Minin wants to provide functional tools also to authorities that are pursuing traffickers.

    Read more in the article En­rico Di Minin is on the hunt for an­imal traf­fick­ers on so­cial me­dia.

    Project's name and duration

    Quantifying the global patterns and trends of the illegal wildlife trade: from artificial intelligence to financial market analysis, 2019–2024

    Atte Moilanen is interested in the concepts, methods, theory and application of spatial ecology and conservation. He has developed ecologically based, operational computational methods for conservation resource allocation.

    In the ERC funded research project Moilanen and his group focused on global environmental decision analysis. Their aim was to respond to growing environmental challenges with a project that provides improved conservation-oriented analytical methods and tools to underpin knowledge-based land-use planning and associated political decision making.

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Global Environmental Decision Analysis, 2011–2015

    Professor Mikko Niemi has done research on the gene mutations linked to the response to cholesterol medicine and its side effects since the early 2000s. He has found a number of gene mutations that affect patient response to statins, lipid-lowering medications, or that increase their muscular side effects.

    ERC Funding he got for designing a systems pharmacology decision support algorithm which can aid in choosing the most suitable statin for each patient. Read more here.

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Transporter pharmacogenomics – the contribution of transporters to variability in drug response, 2012–2017
    Consolidator Grant: Individualizing statin therapy by using a systems pharmacology decision support algorithm, 2017–2022

    Historian Samu Niskanen is a research director in history at the University of Helsinki and a researcher at Jesus College, University of Oxford. He got ERC Starting Grant for a project about Medieval Publishing from c. 1000 to 1500.

    Read more about the research

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Medieval Publishing from c. 1000 to 1500, 2017–2022

    Otso Ovaskainen has professorship in mathematical  ecology. His research covers mathematical theory, statistical methods, and empirical research, the emphasis being in linking theory to observational and experimental data. He leads a research group called Mathematical Biology Group.

    In his ERC funded research Ovaskainen and his group study natural population dynamics.

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Spatial ecology: bringing mathematical theory and data together,

    Researcher José Fi­li­pe Pe­rei­ra da Sil­va studied in Porto but came to Helsinki to do his PhD in 2004. His area of expertice is medieval philosophy.

    In his ERC funded project RiP he and his team aims to provide a new interpretation of late medieval theories of mind and cognition by focusing on the influence higher cognitive (rational) powers exert on lower (sensory) ones in the neglected tradition of Augustinian philosophy of perception. The project is led by the research hypothesis of whether the development of a unified view of the mind is associated with an active account of perception.

    Read more about the project

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Rationality in Perception: Transformations of Mind and Cognition 1250–1550, 2015–2020

    Mari Pihlatie is studying the role of trees in the production of methane. Atmospheric concentration of methane is rising at an increased rate every year. We know that trees can emit methane, but we do not yet know how much. Pihlatie's group is performing novel laboratory and field experiments to raise the process-based understanding of methane exchange in boreal and temperate forests.

    With her ERC-funding, Pihlatie is constructing a process model for the soil-tree-atmosphere methane exchange. Pihlatie's group aims to revolutionize our understanding of methane flux dynamics in forest ecosystems. It will significantly increase our knowledge of how boreal and temperate forests contribute to the global methane budget. 

    Read more about Pihlatie's ERC-project on the group's website

    Pro­jec­t's name and duration:

    From processes to modelling of methane emissions from trees, 2018–2023

    Academy Research Fellow Marjo Saastamoinen of the Department of Biosciences studies mechanisms for coping with stress. Saastamoinen got the ERC Starting Grant for this project. One part of the study focused on caterpillars living in difficult conditions, especially on the mysteries of their intestines.

    Read more about the study

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Unravelling life-history responses and underlying mechanisms to environmental stress in wild populations, 2015–2020

    If drugs could be targeted to exactly the right place in the body, we could probably do with significantly smaller doses – and consequently fewer side effects. To allow for such precise delivery, we need tiny nanocarriers and even smaller nanotrackers to monitor them. Hélder A. Santos' research group is working on both of these.

    Yliopisto-lehti: Chasing a precise pill

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Multistage-Multifunctional Porous Silicon Nanovectors for Directed Theranostics, 2013–2017

    Tiina Sikanen is a principal investigator at the Faculty of Pharmacy.  With ERC funding she aims to develop inexpensive, high-throughput technology to screen the thus far unexplored metabolic interactions between environmental and household chemicals and clinically relevant drugs. The main influential focus is on human phase I metabolism (redox reactions) of common toxicants like agrochemicals and plasticizers.

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Customized Micro Total Analysis Systems to Study Human Phase I Metabolism,

    Project's name and duration

    Linguistic Adaptation: Typological and Sociolinguistic Perspectives to Language Variation, 2019–2023

    Assistant professor Mikko Sipilä got ERC Starting Grant in 2016. With it Sipilä is studying the details of how atmospheric gases generate new particulates which change the properties of clouds and, consequently, the climate. Read more about the research

    While the creation processes of particles have been studied for decades, they have only been examined with sufficient precision in laboratory conditions, in the CLOUD experiment at CERN. Sipilä has been actively involved in CLOUD since its inception.

    The only study thus far capable of measuring the creation of particles directly from the atmosphere is also one of Sipilä’s.

    Follow the research project

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Molecular steps of gas-to-particle conversion: From oxidation to precursors, clusters and secondary aerosol particles, 2017–2022

    Project's name and duration

    Preservation and Efficacy of Music and Singing in Ageing, Aphasia, and Alzheimer’s Disease, 2019–2023

    Tuomas Tammela and his team are studying the phenotypic heterogeneity of cancer cells within tumors. Tammela's ERC-funding allows the team to elucidate the molecular and cellullar mechanisms that control stem-like and niche cell phenotypes. These efforts may lead to novel therapeutic concepts in human lung cancer.

    Pro­ject's name and duration:

    Elucidation of intratumoral heterogeneity in Kras-driven cancers, 2017–2022

    Jing Tang is a researcher at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) and a also a team leader in a Helsinki Challenge team iCombine.

    With the ERC funding Tang aims to develop new ways to identify personalised drug combinations that are more effective against cancer. His project utilises computational systems medicine approaches, and aims to develop.

    Read more about the research

    Tang was the first researcher at FIMM to receive an ERC grant.

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Informatics approaches for the rational selection of personalized cancer drug combinations,

    Computer scientist Alexandru Tomescu studies the modelling of real-world problems with computational methods.  Such modelling often utilises incomplete data, which results in a large number of potential solutions.

    Choosing a single correct solution from among the multitude of possibilities poses a problem. Tomescu’s aim is to establish a technique which would help in identifying all of the sub-solutions that are definitely part of the correct solution.

    Read more on Tomescu's website!

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Safe and Complete Algorithms for Bioinformatics, 2019–2024

    Kaius Tuori specialises in the European crisis of the 1930s, which led to the rise of Nazism, fascism and communism. In his ERC funded research he demonstrates that even in Europe the rights tradition is a conscious construction by a group of legal scholars reacting to contemporary events. The study is about a group of innovators who are forced to reinvent themselves and their science abroad after being exiled by Nazi Germany. This reinvention meant that they had to first rethink all that they had previously done and then to address a new audience in a new language, simultaneously trying to make sense of the catastrophe.

    Read more about the research

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Reinventing the Foundations of European Legal Culture 1934–1964, 2013–2018

    Associate Professor Henna Tyynismaa leads a research group in the Faculty of Medicine’s research programme in molecular neurology. The group has interests in molecular genetics and mechanisms of neurological diseases, as well as in mitochondrial involvement in disease pathogenesis and in the cellular protein homeostasis.

    With ERC funding Tyynismaa and her group investigates key questions in understanding differential tissue involvement in metabolic defects, and will provide new directions for utilization of tissue-specific adaptations in finding interventions for mitochondrial diseases. 

    Read more about the research

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Tissue-specific mitochondrial signaling and adaptations to mistranslation, 2015–2020

    Maria Vartiainen is the group leader, of Light Microscopy Unit (LMU).  Her research group is interested in how actin regulates gene expression. In the cytoplasm, actin has a well-established role as a component of the cytoskeleton, and plays important roles for example in cell motility and morphology. Nuclear actin has been linked to many processes related to gene expression, such as RNA polymerase function and chromatin remodeling. In addition, actin regulates the activity of specific transcription factors, including SRF.

    With ERC funding Vartiainen and her group studies the nucleus which is a compartmentalized organelle. Vartiainen thinks that the true potential of nuclear actin has not been fully appreciated and the key questions concerning it could be studied by manipulating actin specifically in the nucleus, and by identifying nuclear actin binding partners, respectively.

    Read more about studying nucleus and actin

    Pro­ject's name and dur­a­tion:

    Actin as the Master Organizer of Nuclear Structure and Function, 2012–2018

    Atmospheric aerosol particles play a key role in regulating the climate, and particulate matter is responsible for most of the 7 million deaths per year attributed to air pollution. The purpose of professor Hanna Vehkamäki's project is to achieve a comprehensive understanding of atmospheric nanocluster and ice crystal formation based on fundamental physico-chemical principles.

    Project's name and duration:

    Role of Molecular Clusters in Atmospheric Particle Formation, 2011–2016
    Advanced Grant: Si­mu­la­ting Non-Equi­li­brium Dy­na­mics of At­mosp­he­ric Mul­ticom­po­nent Clus­ters, 2016–2021

    Nucleation — Why are there nanoparticles in the air?

    Linguist Marja Vierros is working on a new Digital Grammar of Greek Documentary Papyri. The corpus she is using, ranging from ca. 300 BCE to 700 CE, in contrast with literature, preserves the language as the ancient writer composed it and lead us close to the colloquial contemporary language. The nonstandard variation in documentary texts is where language change can first be detected, making the papyrological corpus an important source for diachronic study of Greek. The new Grammar of Greek papyri will answer such questions as how much bilingualism affected Greek in Egypt and when and where it was a dominant feature of the society.

    With the help of her ERC-funding, Vierros will partly treat the papyri as big data; the whole corpus will be morphologically tagged. This will enable e.g. phonological analyses to be performed in greater accuracy than has been possible before through eliminating the confusion between inflectional morphology and phonological variation. As a result, the Digital Grammar will bring the language used in the Greek papyri openly available to the scholarly community in an unforeseen manner. It will include new, more exact analyses of the phonology and morphology of Greek in Egypt, as well as a possibility to search both phonological and morphological forms, in combination or in separation, in the whole corpus.

    Read more about Vierros' work on the project website

    Project's name and duration:

    Digital Grammar of Greek Documentary Papyri, 2018–2023

    Pharmacologist and neuroscientist Merja Voutilainen's research focuses on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson's disease, with the aim of finding neurorestorative treatments that promote functional recovery from these diseases.

    Read more about Merja Voutilainen's research on her research group website.

    Project's name and duration

    Elucidating therapeutic effects and mode of action of future trophic factors in ALS and Parkinson’s disease, 2019–2024