University of Oulu to begin training health data experts

A unique postdoctoral researcher programme, which will provide experts with training in the processing and utilisation of big data related to health, is being launched at the University of Oulu. The programme will provide training for 25 internationally recruited postdoctoral researchers to become future experts in the health data sector. The programme has received major EU funding, amounting to EUR 3.6 million.

"Data related to health is produced in huge quantities due to technological advances, but there is a huge shortage of experts in the processing, transfer and application of data in all areas of society, in health care service systems, the private sector and academic research. The purpose of the programme is to fill these gaps in competence," explains Professor Johannes Kettunen, Scientific Director of Biocenter Oulu and the University of Oulu Population Health Research Unit.

The training will take place during a three-year working period in University of Oulu medicine, health and life sciences research groups that use and apply big data as well as in cooperation with companies and different organisations associated with the field. In addition, an effort will be made to put the trainees in touch with actors in the field, which will enable the best and quick utilisation of the new competence.

"Trained in different environments, the experts will comprehensively meet the competence needs of different sectors of society," adds Kettunen.

The programme will be launched at the beginning of 2024 and run for five years. In addition to the University of Oulu, participants include the Wellbeing Services County of North Ostrobothnia (Pohde), Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), City of Oulu and health sector companies.

The Data4Healthcare programme has received significant funding, EUR 3.34 million, from the highly competitive Marie-Sklodowska-Curie-Action COFUND of the EU funding programme Horizon Europe. The EU covers 51% of the costs and 49% is borne by the University of Oulu. The programme is coordinated by Biocenter Oulu.

The programme is the first programme for postdoctoral researchers to receive funding from the University of Oulu. Previously, doctoral degree programmes (I4Future and I4World) have received funding from the same type of instrument.

"Aimed at doctoral candidates, this training programme is unique in terms of its subject and content on a European scale. The programme utilises the OuluHealth ecosystem and will now benefit it by producing more expertise for actors in the area,” says Kettunen.

Last updated: 19.10.2023