In collaboration with Docent Mikaela von Bonsdorff at the Gerontology Research Center, GEREC, Jyväskylä, Finland, a new research project in the field of gerontology with focus on social and behavioral sciences was launched within the Public Health Research Program. The focus of the study is on healthy and active aging, participation, social intercourse, functional ability, and service housing. The data about service housing, healthy and active aging will be collected during the spring 2018.

Close research collaboration with the University of Helsinki– which has started already 1996 – continued with the following six groups affiliated to the Center and to the Research Programs of the Medical Faculty: Eriksson, Groop and Tuomi in the Research Program for Diabetes and Obesity; Kere, Lehesjoki and Lohi in the Research Program for Molecular Neurology. Six of the group leaders at the Center have a full or part-time professorship at the Medical Faculty.

Productive research at the Center: altogether 185 original papers and 13 other publications were published in scientific journals. Some highlights of the publications – reflecting the multiplicity of research – are summarized in this annual report.

Three graduate students within the Genetic Research Program defended their doctoral theses at the University of Helsinki.

The Research Center carries out active international and national collaboration, among others:

  •  The Group Eriksson is a partner of two EU-consortia: DynaHealth (ID 633595) and Lifecycle (ID 733206).
  • The Group Lehesjoki is a partner of the worldwide Epi25 Collaborative which aims to sequence as many as 25,000 patients with epilepsy.
  • The Group Wallgren-Petterson & Pelin is a partner in the International Consortium on Nemaline Myopahty.
  • The Group Udd & Hackman is a partner of the international Titin database.

In November 2017 the FinnDiane Study Group celebrated their 20th Anniversary. The Study Group is an outstanding example of extensive collaboration and exchange:

  • In Finland network of 93 centers.
  • INTERDIANE Consortium with Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Crotia, Austria, and Brazil (pending).
  • In Europe: University of Edinburgh and University of Belfast, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, UK; University of Padova and University of Torino, Italy; University of Lund, Sweden; University of Aarhus and Copenhagen, Denmark; University of Poitiers, France; University of Freiburg, Germany; Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Romania; Llublijana University of Medical Center, Slovenia; and University of Groningen, the Netherlands.
  • Outside EU: University of Toronto, Canada; Harvard University, MIT: Broad Institute, University of Virginia, University of Miami and University of San Diego, University of San Antonio, USA; University of DukeNUS, Singapore; Monash University and the Southern Australia Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), Australia.

The economy of the Center remained stable. The groups continued to be successful in receiving external competitive funding for their research. The total funding in 2017 was 10,6 million: 56 % was external funding, 35 % came from the Folkhälsan Research Foundation and 9 % from the Samfundet Folkhälsan funds.




Prof. Anna-Elina Lehesjoki was awarded with the Knight First Class of the Order of the White Rose of Finland by the President of the Republic of Finland, December 6th, 2017.

DMSc Markku Saraheimo was honoured with the title “Diabetes Dignitary of the Year” (Vuoden diabetesvaikuttaja) by the Diabetestutkijat ja diabetologit ry (“the Diabetes Researchers and Diabetologists“, registered association) in November 2017.

Prof. Bjarne Udd received the German award ”Duchenne-Erb Preis” for his lifelong research on muscle diseases by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Muskelkranke e.V.

PhD Salla-Maarit Volanen was a member of the team called Positive CV, that won the shared first place of the Ratkaisu 100 (“Solution 100”) –challenge competition led by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, November 16th, 2017.
Positive CV is a concept which focuses on strengthening students’ mindfulness skills and better identification of students’ self-knowledge and self-awareness.


Prof. Juha Kere received the Senior Fellowship for Research by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) at the RIKEN Yokohama Institute, Japan. Period of the Fellowship: March 23rd, 2017 – Jan 23rd, 2018.

Prof. Hannes Lohi and Prof. Anna-Elina Lehesjoki were appointed as HiLife Fellows at the Helsinki Institute of Life Science, 2017–2020.