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New Centre of Excellence resolving connections between immune system and inflammatory diseases


The Finnish Academy chose Molecular Systems Immunology and Physiology Research Group as one of its new Centres of Excellence for the period of 2012 – 2017. Solving the mechanisms how type 1 diabetes develops is one of the main focuses of the venture.

The Centre of Excellence (CoE) is directed by Research Professor Matej Orešič from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Prof. Mikael Knip (University of Helsinki, Deputy Director of the CoE), Prof. Riitta Lahesmaa (University of Turku), Prof. Olli Simell (University of Turku and the Hospital District of Southwest Finland) and Prof. Harri Lähdesmäki (Aalto University) are leading their research groups in the CoE.

The immune system responds to genetic and biochemical variations in an adaptive manner that may contribute to autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. The immune system plays an important role also in many other diseases.

The overall objective of the CoE is to understand the molecular mechanisms that control the immune system as well as the interactions between the immune system and other physiological systems in health and disease. This information may help in prevention and treatment of inflammatory and immune-mediated disorders. The CoE will focus especially on type 1 diabetes. Along the way, the research will generate new knowledge of the role of metabolism in early stages of autoimmune diseases as well as reveal novel molecular mechanisms.

The research will be divided into four main research lines including clinical research, biomarkers and metabolome research, molecular systems immunology and computational systems biology.

The total budget for the first 3 years (2012 – 2014) is 5.7 Million €.

The Finnish Academy selected new Centres of Excellence in Research for 2012‒2017 on 6th June 2011. A total of 15 units, involving research teams from eleven universities or research institutes, were selected to the new Centre of Excellence Programme.