Finland attracts 24 world class top researchers and raises the level of scientific and technological knowledge and know-how in Finland

Finland attracts 24 world class top researchers and raises the level of scientific and technological knowledge and know-how in Finland

Finland attracts 24 world class top researchers and raises the level of scientific and technological knowledge and know-how in Finland.

The Academy of Finland and Tekes have decided to fund 24 research projects with 17.5 million euros. The funding will be available to recruit 24 visiting top researchers to Finnish universities or research institutes for 2–5 years. The first top researchers will begin work at the beginning of 2007.

The goal of the Finland Distinguished Professor Programme (FiDiPro) is to raise the level of scientific and technological knowledge and know-how in Finland and add a more international element to the Finnish research system. It is also geared towards supporting research-driven profiling of universities and research institutes and creating new kind of international cooperation between university-based research and business companies.

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Life science world class professors to work in Finland:
FiDiPro Professor: Professor Joe Terwilliger, Columbia State University (USA)
Professor Joe Terwilliger is an internationally esteemed scholar of genetics, with a solid international network of cooperation worldwide. He has especially distinguished himself as a developer of statistical genetics methods.

Research project:
The project involves development of statistical genetics methods to study multifactorial disease traits. Since national diseases, such as diabetes, migraine and obesity, are multifactorial diseases, computational modelling is very difficult. As genetic research methods have developed, it has become possible to use collected data to identify genes and understand their effects on the population.

Finnish project leader and organisation: Academy Professor Leena Peltonen-Palotie, University of Helsinki, +358 9 4744 8393, .
Leena Peltonen-Palotie is Vice Chairman of ScanBalt Academy

FiDiPro Professor: Professor Hsiu-Hsi Chen, National Taiwan University (Taiwan)
Professor Tony Hsiu-Hsi Chen has significantly contributed to the development of novel methodological approaches for evaluation of cancer screening and is an internationally esteemed scholar in his field.

Research project: The research project is concerned to develop the evaluation of cancer screenings. The research aims to combine world-class screening data with cutting-edge methodological expertise to create a unique research environment for research excellence. Finland is a leading country in cancer screening. Nationwide mass screening programmes for cervical and breast cancer have been running for decades and produced unique data.

Finnish project leader and organisation: Professor Anssi Auvinen, University of Tampere, tel. +358 3 3551 6883,

Chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases

FiDiPro Professor: Professor Rikard Holmdahl, Medical Inflammation Research Lab, Lund (Sweden)
Professor Rikard Holmdahl’s research has advanced understanding of complex diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. In his research, Holmdahl has applied a groundbreaking combination of animal models and genetics.

Research project
: Chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus erythematosus are diseases for which the scientific community has limited information concerning their pathogenesis. We also lack treatment that can prevent or revert the disease course. Mechanisms leading to destructive inflammation are to a large extent shared between these diseases. The project will use well-characterised animal models for inflammatory disease and powerful genetic tools to identify polymorphic genes selected by nature to control these pathways. The project will also involve in-depth studies on immune recognition and stability of target tissue and the fundamental mechanisms of interactions between inflammatory cells and the target tissue.

Finnish project leader and organisation: Academy Professor Sirpa Jalkanen, University of Turku, tel. +358 2 333 7007,

Systems neuroscience

FiDiPro Professor: Professor Josef Rauschecker, Georgetown University Washington DC (USA)
Professor Josef Rauschecker is among the leading scientists in systems neuroscience in the world.

Research project: The project explores key questions in systems neuroscience, such as how sensory features of objects are processed in parallel and combined across the senses to allow fast and effortless perception, and how the human brain can selectively attend certain objects over others. The project will make it possible to unravel mechanisms of neural plasticity underlying goal-directed multi-sensory perception and perceptual learning.

Finnish project leader and organisation: Academy Professor Mikko Sams, Helsinki University of Technology, tel. +358 9 451 4848, Microbiology and Sustainable Biotechnology
FiDiPro Professor: Professor Olli H. Tuovinen, Ohio State University, USA
Dr. Olli H. Tuovinen is Professor of Microbiology at Ohio State University.  He is also appointed as Professor in the Soil Science and Environmental Science programs at the university. Dr. Tuovinen’s research concerns biodegradable waste materials and biological applications in energy production, mining and drinking water industry. Olli H. Tuovinen obtained his undergraduate degrees at University of Helsinki and completed his Ph.D. degree at University of London (England).  He worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Waite Institute, University of Adelaide, South Australia, and later at University of Helsinki, Finland before he moved to the United States. He has been a faculty member at Ohio State University since 1978.  Dr. Tuovinen has been a visiting professor in Brazil and Japan and has taught training courses in India and Peru.

Research project
The project seeks to develop novel bioprocesses for mining and metallurgy, biological production of hydrogen and ethanol energy carriers from renewable and waste materials, high-quality potable water services as well as molecular diagnostic tools for optimization and control of bioprocess performance and control of microbial hazards. The overall objectives in this research programme are to increase the understanding of the fundamentals underlying bioprocesses under extreme conditions (low/high temperature, high pressure, low nutrient availability, toxic chemicals) and to develop novel technology based on extremophilic microorganisms or their biomolecules.

Finnish project  leader: Professor Jaakko Puhakka, Head, Institute of Environmental Engineering and Biotechnology, Tampere University of Technology, , tel +358-3-3115 2966

Harmonization of Hard Tissue Engineering: The Development of New Regenerative Products and Procedures
FiDiPro Professor: Professor George K.B. Sándor, University of Toronto, Canada
George Sándor graduated from the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto (Canada) with a DDS degree in 1978 and MD degree in 1986 and completed his Plastic Surgery Residency in Toronto in 1991. He has visited several European clinics including Arnhem (The Nertherlands), Paris (France), Bern (Switzerland), and Oulu (Finland). Dr. Sándor is currently a Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Toronto and the Clinical Director of the Graduate Program in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at University of Toronto and The Mount Sinai Hospital. He is also the Co-ordinator of Pediatric Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at The Hospital for Sick Children and the Bloorview Kid’s Rehab Center in Toronto. He has been the recipient of numerous research grants and teaching awards.

Research project
The goal is to harmonize the objectives in research between mesenchymal stem cell growth, scaffold preparation and the utilization of growth factors or bioactive substances to produce a new family of bone regeneration products and procedures in human and veterinarian clinical practice.

Finnish project leader: Director of Regea Riitta Suuronen, Professor, , tel +358-3-3551 8497


Microbial Interactions for Intestinal Health
FiDiPro Professor: Professor Willem M. de Vos, Wageningen University, Netherlands. Prof. Dr.  Willem M. de Vos received a PhD degree with highest honors at State University of Groningen, the Netherlands, on work in the area of Molecular Genetics, which was partly done at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, Germany. He received a post-doctoral fellowship of the EU Biomolecular Engineering Programme to stay in the United Kingdom and then became research manager at NIZO, the research institute of the Netherlands dairy industry. Here he established a research group on lactic acid bacteria and became first Professor of Bacterial Genetics and later Chair of Microbiology at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, where he initiated research groups on the biotechnology of extremophiles and archaea, as well as the microbial ecology of the intestinal tract. In this function, he first served as Director of the Department of Biomolecular Sciences and in 2000 became Programme Director Microbial Functionality and Safety at the Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences (WCFS), a public-private centre of excellence in the Netherlands. He received several international awards, including the Rhone Poulenc Dairy Science Award.

Research project
Our intestinal tract is colonized since birth by a myriad of microbes that are involved in the processing of our diet, develop intimate interactions with our body, and have a major contribution to health and disease. One of the present day challenges is to understand and improve the intestinal processes based on the intestinal microbes and their expression products. This will be the focus of this research project that aims to establish an advanced competence platform for defining Intestinal Health by capitalizing the expertise of internationally networking Universities, including University of Helsinki, Turku University and Wageningen University, The Netherlands. The project will deliver microbe-based intestinal health biomarkers, address industrially relevant issues and interventions, and benchmark intestinal irregularities that are targets for food and pharma interventions. A large and balanced industry consortium including six large and medium-sized food and pharma companies has been established to guide and monitor the project. All partners are committed to participate in the project to drive further public-private interactions and innovations for intestinal health.

Finnish project leader: Professor Airi Palva, , tel. + 358-0-191 57058


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