Overview by the Director

Director

Year 2013 was a very important year for FIMM and the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine for a number of reasons.

First, we celebrated the renewal of the agreement of the Nordic EMBL Partnership for another 10-year period. At the same time, the Danish Research Institute for Translational Neuroscience (DANDRITE) in Århus was established and joined the Nordic EMBL partnership. We look forward to collaborating with DANDRITE. The renewal and expansion of the Nordic EMBL partnership highlights its value both for the Nordic countries and the EMBL. It is important that we follow the EMBL partnership criteria including scientific excellence, scientific complementarity with EMBL as well as high level, regular international evaluation with consequences for tenure and funding. The partnership nodes are expected to be nationally important centres of excellence which train young scientists at the postgraduate and postdoctoral level as well as employ young principal investigators in rotational positions lasting up to 9 years.

Second, the 5-year evaluation of FIMM was carried out in 2013 by an international evaluation committee chaired by Professor Kai Simons. The feedback received was overwhelmingly positive. The committee stressed that the technologies that FIMM is using are now at the cutting edge of a rapidly moving area of research. Without FIMM in place, it would have been hard to keep pace with developments elsewhere with serious consequences for molecular medicine in Finland. The committee also indicated that molecular medicine in Finland is now entering a most fruitful phase. After years of research and data collection, FIMM can now make use of human genetics research for clinical and industrial applications. Two of three FIMM-EMBL group leaders evaluated had their positions renewed.  The experts encouraged FIMM to define a sharpened focus for the next 5-year period. Indeed, FIMM has focused its activities now on grand challenge research as outlined in this annual report.

Third, in 2013 FIMM was invited to join EU-LIFE, a network of the top life-science research institutes in Europe (http://eu-life.eu/). EU-LIFE strives to develop and compare best practices in operating international independent institutes. Thirteen institutes, including the best-known European institutes like Curie in Paris, Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, FMI in Basel, and CRG in Barcelona are other members. The fact that FIMM was asked to become a founding member is a positive encouragement of our impact and status in Europe and in Finland. We think that EU-LIFE will be important for the future of FIMM; it will open up opportunities for research collaborations and joint EU grants.

FIMM propagates many key strategies of the University of Helsinki including the plan to reach to the top 50 ranking in the global ranking of universities. FIMM research staff is international; we operate national and international infrastructures, and have a strong impact on the society. This year, FIMM scientists authored 167 publications, of which 23 were in the top-level journals. We organized public events to promote personalized medicine and human genomics as a new wave for health care. We started several collaborations with the international pharmaceutical industry. Many press releases were issued as well as a multitude of interactions with the parliament and ministries, including two meetings with the Prime Minister. FIMM is now well established as a place to combine excellence and relevance of research.

For details on these topics and the rest of the year in review, please see this annual report, published now for the first time exclusively in an electronic format.

Professor Olli Kallioniemi, Director, FIMM

Overview by the Director