Research Training

As an international research institute, FIMM is committed to excellence in graduate research training in molecular medicine and related fields. While FIMM is not a formal graduate program or degree granting department, its research groups train PhD students in collaboration with formal doctoral training programs of the University of Helsinki, such as the Helsinki Biomedical Graduate Program (HBGP), and FIMM PhD students satisfy degree requirements from a University of Helsinki faculty, such as the Faculty of Medicine.

FIMM Students in the Spotlight

In 2013, there were 55 PhD students at FIMM. Our students are guided not only by their research mentor and thesis committee, but also FIMM's Doctoral Training Committee, established in 2013, composed of three group leaders and the Research Training Coordinator.

Three students completed their PhD degrees in 2013:


Virpi LeppäVirpi Leppä defending her thesis

PhD students are recruited to the Institute through our institute-level recruitment and training program, the FIMM-EMBL International PhD Training in Molecular Medicine and Bioinformatics, as well as directly by group leaders with various modes of funding. In 2013, we continued the systematic international PhD student recruitment in collaboration with the Nordic EMBL Partnership and locally with the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT) to foster multidisciplinary collaboration. The aim has been to recruit outstanding, international and Finnish PhD students and provide them with diverse research training early in their academic careers. The students are recruited at the institute level and then select a research group after a rotational period.

Students reflect on the FIMM-EMBL rotational training:

“A unique opportunity to look at science from different perspectives, develop new skills, check yourself out in various tasks and find the best match for the future work.”

 - Anna Cichonska, FIMM-EMBL/HIIT PhD Student, 2013

“The greatest thing has been learning new things and even more so learning to properly understand and appreciate many different fields of biomedical science. And also to get the opportunity to try out something I did not know so much about before, but maybe was nonetheless interested in.”

 - Meri Kaustio, FIMM-EMBL PhD Student, 2012

FIMM EMBL PhD Student Poojitha Ojamies from FIMM on Vimeo.

In 2013, we received 262 applications from PhD students representing 41 different nationalities, and expressing interest in research areas encompassing FIMM and HIIT, such as computational systems biology and medicine, cancer and human disease genomics, cancer biology, personalised medicine, medical systems virology, statistical genetics, and bioinformatics.  As a result of the rigorous selection process, we welcomed this year three outstanding students (~1 % of the applicants), Anna Cichonska, Balaguru Ravikumar, and Sarang Talwelkar to FIMM and HIIT as the newest FIMM-EMBL PhD students. As a result of the selection process, three additional candidates were offered positions directly with group leaders. 

Sir  Tim Hunt with FIMM studentsSir Tim Hunt with FIMM students during the FIMM-HBGP Seminars: Perspectives in Molecular Medicine and Reflections on Academic Careers course

New Initiatives

FIMM, together with Helsinki Biomedical Graduate Program (HBGP) and National Graduate School of Clinical Investigation (CLIGS/VKTK), organized the first symposium of the new Building Bridges series, Biobanking in Clinical and Translational Research, in October. The Building Bridge series is aimed to highlight team efforts among clinician researchers and biomedical and molecular medical researchers working toward a better understanding of the pathophysiology of disease and improved options for patient treatment and care. The first symposium highlighted bridges between the clinic and basic and translational research with a spotlight on research involving biobanking. With over 100 participants from the research and infrastructure, legal affairs, media, licensing and funding sectors, the symposium was a successful kick-off to an important new initiative.

Students and Postdocs Engage!

The students and postdoctoral researchers at FIMM are supported by the FIMM PhD Student and Postdoc Council.  The council is an institute-level organization for the student and postdoc community of FIMM. The Council officially began its activities in early 2013 and consisted of six members. Their activities include the FIMM Scientific Coffee Breaks and the annual PhD Student Poster Session, as well as new initiatives of the NMMN Young Investigators Collaboration working to enhance inter-node activities in the Nordic EMBL Partnership and planning of the FIMM THINK DIFFERENT Seminar Series.

FIMM  PhD Student and Postdoc Council in 2013FIMM PhD Student and Postdoc Council in 2013

In autumn 2013, the planning of FIMM’s postdoctoral and senior researcher program, FIMMPOD, began.  The program, the first of its kind in Finland, will kick off in June 2014 and focus on four main themes - recruitment, mentoring, career development, and networking.

EU Research Training Projects

Ongoing EU Research Training Projects

Project name



Project Description

Marie Curie International Reintegration Grant




Systems Biology Approaches to Novel Tumour Suppressors

Marie Curie Initial Training Network




Decipher Inter- and Intracellular Signalling in Schizophrenia




Prostate Research Organizations-Network of Early Stage Training


Research Training