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Ulla Sankilampi examining a baby.

Ulla Sankilampi.

New professors strengthen clinical research in Kuopio

Research collaboration between the University of Eastern Finland and the North Savo Wellbeing Services County has been strengthened by the establishment of three part-time (30%), joint professorships in clinical research. Aarno Dietz, Dr. med., Docent of Otorhinolaryngology , and Ulla Sankilampi, MD, Docent of Paediatrics, were appointed in January. Eino Solje, MD, Docent of Experimental Neurology, will be appointed as Associate Professor on the Tenure Track on 1 April 2024.

Jussi Pihlajamäki, the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, says that the new joint professorships of the university and the wellbeing services county are intended to strengthen clinical research as part of the evolving service system.

Research should be integrated into the Daily Operations of Clinics at Kuopio University Hospital

Clinical research refers to medical research conducted on humans. At Kuopio University Hospital, KUH, many patients also participate in scientific research related to their treatment. “However, valuable patient data remains underutilised in several specialties. Research should be more effectively integrated into the hospital’s day-to-day activities,” Aarno Dietz says.

Dietz is the Chief Physician of the Sense Organ Diseases Unit at KUH. In addition to working as an otorhinolaryngologist and as an otologic surgeon, his research focuses especially on the development of diagnostics and treatments related to hearing. As a result, KUH has become the second-largest centre in Finland for cochlear implantation, enjoying high international recognition.

“We currently have three major research projects underway, alongside many smaller ones. In the DigiKuulo (‘Digital Hearing’) project, we are developing a cost-effective method for diagnosing hearing loss and for monitoring rehabilitation outcomes. We are collaborating with the UEF Brain Research Unit on a project funded by the Research Council of Finland, investigating the effects of hearing rehabilitation on information processing and cognition. Additionally, in partnership with the A. I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences, we are exploring molecular and gene therapy for inner ear diseases in order to develop novel inner ear gene transfer techniques and therapies

“Along with my clinical work, research has kept me busy so far, and the professorship will not change this – quite the opposite. A more general aim is to promote collaboration between Kuopio University Hospital and the University of Eastern Finland.”

According to Dietz, strengthening clinical research in different fields of medicine requires effective quality registries that provide support for practical clinical care and for the collection and analysis of data. “Through systematic monitoring of treatment, we could accurately assess the effectiveness of treatments, which would also provide significant support for clinical decision making and research.”

“Research, development and innovation activities have been included in the wellbeing services county’s strategy, and we’ve seen good proposals on how to enhance research activities. However, it is clear that the current restrains of resources in healthcare poses also significant challenges to clinical research.”

Aarno Dietz.
Aarno Dietz.
Eino Solje.
Eino Solje.