Neurocenter Finland gathers up neuroscience research
Finland has internationally high-quality neuroscience research, but the opportunities it offers are not being utilised fully. One reason is the fragmentation of the field of study. Establishing Neurocenter Finland accelerates national and international research cooperation in the neurological research sector, while creating a stronger connection between research and practical patient work and the development of precision treatments and innovations, and helping the emergence and growth of new companies related to brain health.
The role of Neurocenter Finland involves maintaining comprehensive and up-to-date information on Finnish neuroscience research projects, infrastructures, methods, materials and innovations. This way, the Neurocenter promotes the utilisation and commercialisation of research; the hope is that this will be reflected in the multiplication of business related to neurosciences and investments in the field in Finland.
“Neurocenter Finland is part of the national Health Sector Growth Strategy. It also provides Oulu with good opportunities for broad networking by using all the connections and services provided by the Neurocenter to gain visibility for our research”, Professor Kari Majamaa explains.
For decades, Oulu has had significant research on several rare neurological diseases, and Oulu’s role in the Neurocenter is in fact to promote and coordinate research into rare neurological diseases. Kari Majamaa is currently leading a project to create an electronic register for rare diseases.
“In Northern Finland, the genetic profile of the population caused by our settlement history means that there is a high rate of neurological diseases here, which creates good preconditions for research. Some good examples are mitochondrial diseases, rare parkinsonisms and dementias, such as frontotemporal degeneration and Huntington's disease”, says Professor Anne Remes.
The Oulu University Hospital is an affiliated partner of the European Reference Network of Rare Neurological Diseases (ERN-RND).
Strength from multidisciplinarity in Oulu
Research in neurosciences is carried out extensively throughout Finland, but the amount of research and its profile vary by region. The focus areas of research and related competence at different universities are complementary in many respects. Finland has strong neuroscience research expertise in such areas as cell and molecular level mechanisms, preclinical, clinical and computational research, and imaging.
The strong point in Oulu is multidisciplinary versatility: special competence areas for neurosciences include diagnostics, expertise in ICT and mobile devices and gaming, a strong health technology sector, and infrastructures that support research, such as biobanks, an upcoming genome centre, patient registers, population cohorts, and imaging infrastructures.
“The Neurocenter Finland operating model has been piloted in several projects – Oulu was responsible for leading one of them – and brain researchers from Oulu have also participated in two other projects. At this stage, our goal has been to increase our knowledge of neuroscience research in the Oulu region in cooperation between the University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital”, says Remes.
The organisation of the Neurocenter will be implemented once the founding agreement has been signed. The aim is that in 2021, Neurocenter Finland will act as an independent operator with funding from its owner organisations. Neurocenter Finland is coordinated by the University of Eastern Finland.
An information event on the activities of Neurocenter Finland will be held on Tuesday 1 December from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. The online event is open to everyone interested in the matter. Link to the event https://oulu.zoom.us/j/65514493542