University of Oulu lends its expertise to the management of the coronavirus epidemic

The University of Oulu is well-equipped to take part in the joint efforts to tackle the coronavirus epidemic.

As an example, the university is prepared to provide assistance in the form of equipment, reagents and staff for coronavirus tests on request. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method is used to reveal the virus in the samples of individual patients, and the university has a number of the requisite devices. Suitable professionals, such as laboratory technicians and biomedical laboratory scientists, are also available. In addition, employees can be trained to take corona samples. If necessary, the university can agree upon the utilisation of its resources with regional operators, such as NordLab and the hospital district.

Medical students are being trained for crisis preparedness

In order to prevent coronavirus infections, the university's faculties have transitioned to remote studying arrangements. Almost 90% of the spring term courses can be provided remotely, but some are ill-suited to this due to the equipment and premises required. These studies will be rescheduled.

In the studies of late-stage medical students, the main focus is on examining patients and practising manual skills. Together with the Oulu University Hospital, the Faculty of Medicine has been able to secure the arrangement of most group teaching sessions on hospital premises for 4th and 5th year students. This ensures that the students will be able to work as substitutes for doctors in the coming summer. According to Dean Anne Remes, the collaboration with the hospital district has been smooth despite the crisis.

If they so desire, university employees with health care training can seek employment at the University Hospital, for example. Efforts have been made to ensure the utmost flexibility of the transition.

Free-of-charge studies and high-quality remote teaching

For micro and solo entrepreneurs suffering from the corona outbreak, the university offers a free-of-charge continuing education course on the basics of micro-entrepreneurship. Participants in the ‘Vahva yrittäjä’ (Strong entrepreneur) course familiarise themselves with a variety of topics, such as the business expertise required for micro-entrepreneurship, and prepare a plan for improving their own competence and capacity to cope. The course is part of the national micro-entrepreneurship education project which is organised by the University of Oulu and is set to begin in May.

Since classroom education has mostly been suspended throughout the country, many universities have made their open university studies available to degree students free of charge. The Open University of Oulu will be providing free studies during the spring and summer seasons. A variety of courses in natural sciences, information technology and electrical engineering are available. The study offering is being updated continuously.

The OpenDigi project coordinated by the University of Oulu has prepared quality recommendations for remote teaching in comprehensive education, which have now been widely adopted in Oulu to support teaching activities and ensure quality.   

Top-tier research and social influence

A wide multidisciplinary range of experts in research, teaching and innovation work at the University of Oulu. They have integrated themselves into international networks and often represent the very top of their fields.

One of these experts is Professor Lari Lehtiö, who works as an Academy Research Fellow at the Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, and as group leader at Biocenter Oulu. Lehtiö’s group studies the protein that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, causing the COVID-19 disease, uses to multiply itself inside the host cell. The research group is developing methods for screening a large number of compounds and identifying those that bind to the virus protein thereby inhibiting it. An effective inhibitor would enable development of medication to combat the virus.

The university’s researchers have also come up with many new research openings amid the corona outbreak. At the moment, about 30 new project proposals are in processing.

The university experts have also been actively engaged in the social discussion on the corona situation and provided statements to the media. The university's communications unit will continue to offer experts to the media for interviews.



Last updated: 23.4.2020