UEF researchers are part of several Finnish Research Flagships and Centres of Excellence. In addition, many have been awarded highly competed ERC grants by the European Research Council.
Finnish Centres of Excellence
The Academy of Finland’s Centre of Excellence Programmes are a success story in Finnish research. Centres of Excellence (CoE) are at the very cutting edge of science in their fields, carving out new avenues for research, developing creative research environments and innovations, and training new talented researchers for the Finnish research and business sectors. The University of Eastern Finland is part of two Centres of Excellence.
Virtual Laboratory for Molecular Level Atmospheric Transformations (2022–2029)
The Centre of Excellence combines atmospheric and computer science to construct a virtual laboratory for atmospheric aerosol formation, interactively integrating experimental and theoretical state-of-the art methods from the fields of chemistry, physics and artificial intelligence. The Centre is led by Professor Hanna Vehkamäki at the University of Helsinki. Professor Kari Lehtinen and Associate Professor Siegfried Schobesberger from the Aerosol Physics Research Group at the University of Eastern Finland are members of the Centre of Excellence.
Aerosol Physics Research Group
The Centre of Excellence of Inverse Modelling and Imaging (2018–2025)
The objective of the Centre of Excellence is to create fundamentally new, efficient, and theoretically sound solutions to practical inverse problems, especially in medical imaging, geophysics and space research, as well as remote sensing and modelling in enviromental and climate research. The director of the Centre is Academy professor Matti Lassas. The University of Eastern Finland is represented by the Computational Physics and Inverse Problems Research Group.
Computational Physics and Inverse Problems Research Group
Finnish Flagship Programme
The Academy of Finland’s Flagship Programme is an instrument that supports high-quality research and increases the societal impact emerging from the research. The University of Eastern Finland is part of four Flagships and coordinates two of them.
GeneCellNano – The Gene, Cell and Nano Therapy Competence Cluster for the Treatment of Chronic Diseases (2020–2024)
GeneCellNano Flagship develops new biological drugs, so-called ATMP products, biomarkers and diagnostics for diseases with unmet clinical need. New treatments are developed for cardiovascular diseases and age-related macular degeneration, as well as for brain, ovarian and bladder cancer. The Flagship is led by Professor Seppo Ylä-Herttuala at the University of Eastern Finland.
UNITE – Forest-Human-Machine Interplay - Building Resilience, Redefining Value Networks and Enabling Meaningful Experiences (2020–2024)
The aim of the UNITE flagship is to diversify forest-related livelihoods, promote the health and well-being effects of forests, safeguard biodiversity and increase the efficiency of forest use management and operations. The Flagship is led by Professor Jyrki Kangas at the University of Eastern Finland.
ACCC – The Atmosphere and Climate Competence Center (2020–2024)
The ACCC Flagship focuses on research addressing climate change and deteriorating air quality. The mission is to contribute toward achieving carbon neutrality in Finland, EU and global societies, as well contribute to mitigate air pollution to sustain a healthy atmosphere. The Flagship is led by Professor Markku Kulmala at the University of Helsinki. Professor Kari Lehtinen from UEF is the consortium’s deputy director.
PREIN – The Photonics Research and Innovation flagship, (2019–2026)
PREIN is a Photonics Research and Innovation platform focusing on light-based solutions from scientific excellence to industrial and societal impact. Photonics and light-based technologies play a central role in all areas of modern life, such as telecommunications, energy and environment. The flagship is led by Professor Goëry Genty at the University of Tampere. Professor Jyrki Saarinen from the University of Eastern Finland is the flagship's deputy director.
Research funded by funded by the European Research Council (ERC)
ERC grants are one of Europe’s most respected research funding schemes. Starting Grants are awarded to researchers who are in the early stages of their careers, Consolidator Grants are awarded to those in the middle stages of their careers and Advanced Grants are awarded to well-established researchers. In addition to a high scientific standard, applicants need to display perspectives that reshape our scientific understanding.
Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland have received ERC funding for a total of 11 research projects. Four ERC funded projects are currently underway.
ERC Advanced Grants
Professor Seppo Ylä-Herttuala, ERC Advanced Grant, HeartGenes (2021–2026)
The grant was awarded for research addressing severe coronary artery disease and heart failure. The HeartGenes project seeks to develop novel vascular growth factor molecules. These molecules enable what is known as biological bypass, which seeks to improve circulation in an ischemic heart and to enhance its metabolism and energy supply. The project uses advanced catheter methods by which gene delivery to the heart muscle is performed locally both from the inner lining of heart ventricles and through retrograde delivery, i.e., by cleverly using of the heart’s own venous system as a delivery route.
Earlier ERC Advanced Grant projects:
- Professori Helmi Järviluoma-Mäkelä: Sensory Transformations and Transgenerational Environmental Relationships in Europe, 1950–2020 (SENSOTRA), 2016–2021
- Professor Seppo Ylä-Herttuala: Novel Gene Therapy Based on the Activation of Endogenous Genes for the Treatment of Ischemia - Concepts of endogenetherapy, release of promoter pausing, promoter-targeted ncRNAs and nuclear RNAi (CleverGenes), 2015–2021
- Professor Seppo Ylä-Herttuala: Gene Transfer Techniques in the Treatment of Cardiovascular Diseases and Malignant Glioma (FutureGenes), 2010–2015
ERC Consolidator Grants
Professor Tarja Malm, ERC Consolidator Grant, HUMANE (2022–2027)
Neuroinflammatory reactions geared by malfunctional microglia play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The HUMANE project combines state-of-the-art techniques to answer how and which glial cell subpopulations are associated with altered neuronal network activities at subcellular and spatial resolution in the human brain in early AD. These events also contribute to a detectable vesicle-based biomarker profile in cerebrospinal fluid and blood prior to the clinical disease. The researchers will utilise brain biopsies obtained from normal pressure hydrocephalus (iNPH) patients. As some of these patients manifest early AD pathology, their brains offer a unique window to evaluate cellular and molecular events occurring during early AD. The project will provide a holistic view on early AD pathology and pinpoint novel molecular targets for further validation and new fluid biomarkers.
Professor Tanja Tarvainen, ERC Consolidator Grant, QUANTOM (2021–2026)
The QUANTOM project delelops novel quantitative imaging modalities based on coupled physics. Coupled physics imaging combines the benefits of two physical phenomena, such as light and ultrasound through the photoacoustic effect. The research aims at the development of quantitative tomographic techniques utilising methods of Bayesian inverse problems. The aim is to provide new imaging modalities for biomedical imaging and research.
ERC Starting Grants
Associate Professor Alina Solomon, ERC Starting Grant, Brain Health Toolbox (2019–2024)
The aim of the project is to develop multimodal personalized tools for dementia risk prediction and prevention. The Brain Health Toolbox is designed to create a seamless continuum from accurate dementia prediction to effective prevention by developing the missing disease models and prediction tools for multimodal prevention and testing them in actual multimodal prevention trials. In addition, the aim is to bridge the gap between non-pharmacological and pharmacological approaches by designing a combined multimodal prevention trial based on a new European adaptive trial platform.
Professor Minna Kaikkonen-Määttä, ERC Starting Grant, EnDeCAD (2019–2023)
The EnDeCAD study sheds light on the role of noncoding enhancer regions and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) lying in these regions in the development of coronary artery disease (CAD). The aim is to bring the functional characterization of SNPs associated with CAD risk to date by focusing the search for causal SNPs to enhancers of disease relevant cell types, namely endothelial cells, macrophages and smooth muscle cells of the vessel wall, hepatocytes and adipocytes. Linking the findings with deep phenotypic genomics data from patients has the potential to improve risk characterization, biomarker identification and treatment selection in clinical practice.
Earlier ERC Starting Grant projects:
- Professor Kati Kulovesi: Slowing Down Climate Change: Combining Climate Law and Climate Science to Identify the Best Options to Reduce Emissions of Short-lived Climate Forcers in Developing Countries (CLIMASLOW), 2017–2022
- Professor Annele Virtanen: Quantifying the atmospheric implications of the solid phase and phase transitions of secondary organic aerosols (QAPPA), 2014–2019
- Professor Rami Korhonen: Evaluation of Osteoarthritis Progression in a Patient-Spesific Manner using Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Computational Modeling (OAPROGRESS), 2011–2016