Academy of Finland has chosen 12 new Centres of Excellence for the years 2018–2025. Researchers from Tampere’s universities are involved in six of the new Centres of Excellence.
“Excellent results in tough competition prove that Tampere’s universities are at the leading edge of research,” says Seppo Parkkila, Chair of Tampere3’s Research Management Group and Vice Rector for Research at the University of Tampere.
“This also provides a good way forward for the Tampere3 process, where we are creating a new multidisciplinary university to meet demanding global challenges. Our goal is that the new university will be internationally recognised and the most impactful of all Finnish universities in science and society in its profile areas,” Parkkila adds.
The University of Tampere received two Centres of Excellence. Professor Pertti Haapala is leading the Centre of Excellence in the History of Experiences, which also involves Ville Kivimäki, Pirjo Markkola, and Raisa Toivo from the University of Tampere. Professor Frans Mäyrä is leading the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies, which also involves Olli Sotamaa from the University of Tampere.
The new Centre of Excellence in Body-on-Chip Research is operated jointly by Tampere University of Technology and the University of Tampere. The Centre of Excellence is located at BioMediTech, which is a joint institute operated in collaboration by TUT and UTA. The Centre is led by Professor Minna Kellomäki from TUT, and it also involves Jari Hyttinen and Pasi Kallio from TUT as well as Katriina Aalto-Setälä, Susanna Miettinen, and Susanna Narkilahti from UTA.
“This is our first time as a Centre of Excellence, even though we have a conducted research together for over ten years. Our new funding and status allow us to continue the work we started in the Tekes-funded Human Spare Parts project and to open up new venues of research,” says Minna Kellomäki, rejoicing in the consortium’s new status as a Centre of Excellence.
The new Centre of Excellence brings together expertise from biology and technology. Its goal is to create a new type of body-on-chip concept where cell cultures, blood vessels, and nerves are utilised to create networks of several cell or tissue cultures based on stem cells. A computerised nervous system measures, analyses, and controls the network system.
“This research produces significant new expertise. We will have a deeper understanding of tissue operation, the in vitro construction of composite tissues, the operation management of composite tissues, and many other matters. Our end goal, a concept that combines biology with synthetic structures, will have much to give to research areas such as the development of medicinal substances,” Kellomäki says.
In addition, Tampere University of Technology is involved in one and the University of Tampere in two further Centres of Excellence. Mikko Kaasalainen and Sampsa Pursiainen from TUT are involved in the Centre of Excellence of Inverse Modelling and Imaging led by the University of Helsinki, which was now selected as a Centre of Excellence for the third time. Marja Jylhä from UTA is involved in the Centre of Excellence in Research on Ageing and Care led by the University of Jyväskylä, and Matti Nykter from UTA is involved in the Centre of Excellence in Tumour Genetics Research led by the University of Helsinki.
In addition to the Centres of Excellence, the Academy of Finland has granted the University of Tampere €1.9 million to strengthen its research profile.
Text: Sara Riihimäki
Photo: Jonne Renvall