“In addition to my full-time job as a doctor, I work 20 per cent of a researcher’s working time at the university,” says Senior Research Fellow Joonas Kauppila. He conducts research on surgical diseases and cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Kauppila started his medical studies in 2007 and chose oesophageal cancer as the topic of his thesis. During his studies, he already worked on his doctoral dissertation in the evenings and during holidays, financing it by teaching. Medical research is often conducted in large groups. However, when Kauppila’s dissertation in the field of cancer immunology was completed in 2014, it was a project involving three fields: his supervisors were an abdominal surgeon, a pathologist and a cell biologist.
In 2016, Kauppila received a place in a top research team in Karolinska Intitutet. “In Stockholm, I realised that the Nordic countries have excellent registers. We took advantage of this and started to collect all oesophageal and abdominal cancers that had been operated on in Finland since 1987 into a data set consisting of 12,500 patients.”
Some cancer patients receive cytostatic drugs and radiotherapy as a preliminary treatment aimed at shrinking the cancer before the operation. However, these therapies involve problems of their own. Some patients experience harmful effects, which may even delay the operation. With the material he has collected, Kauppila aims to find out whether it is possible to use samples taken from patients before the preliminary treatment to predict who will benefit from preliminary treatment and who should have the operation directly, without preliminary treatment.
“You could compare research to a hobby that you feel passionate about. It teaches you a lot and provides variety to everyday work. As a doctor, I can help one patient at a time. Through research, I can help thousands of people.”
Joonas Kauppila’s research has been supported from donations received by the University of Oulu. Research helps to create a healthier, more sustainable and smarter future. In this work, donations are an important source of support. Right now, the impact of donations is increasing as Sitra pays matched funding that is up to 2.5 times each donated euro.
Last updated: 24.11.2020