Community Relations

FIMM, a forerunner in implementing the National Genome Strategy

FIMM’s Grand Challenge programmes are directed towards societal challenges. The topics of predictive and preventive health, personalised cancer treatment and digitalized medicine are extremely timely at the national decision-making level.

In June 2015, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health together with the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra announced the proposal for a genome strategy for Finland. The proposal has been drafted by a working group consisting of the leading experts in health care and health care legislation in Finland, including Professor Aarno Palotie.

The main aim of the national genome strategy is to support and guide health care in preparation of the efficient utilisation of genome information in the next few years. The strategy comprises seven main goals, four of which have to do with enabling the use of genome information and three with utilisation the information for the benefit of the individual, Finnish health care, and society.

In many ways, FIMM is already implementing the genome strategy and is at the forefront of utilising genome information both in predictive health care research and in company collaborations aiming to foster the development of new drugs. Furthermore, our researchers have recognized the ever increasing need of educating future health care professionals and developed a course directed to advanced medical students. The first course was organised in spring 2015 in collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki and with the funding provided by Sitra. The first sixteen students attending the course found the topic intriguing and the contents of the course very useful. Read more.

FIMM is committed to Science Outreach

FIMM is committed to contributing to society through public engagement. During the past few years, we have been gradually increasing the amount of our outreach and communication activities. With the ever-increasing public interest in personal health and genomics, we feel that these activities have become more and more important. Our researchers and laboratory personnel regularly speak to high school kids and other visitor groups and give presentations in events targeted to the general public. With all these activities, we aim to communicate the meaning and importance of the research conducted at FIMM. 

In 2015, FIMM’s Communications Coordinator Mari Kaunisto, with the help of many members of our staff, showcased our facilities and explained the key points of our research activities to tens of visitor groups. Among the visitors, were journalists from Central Europe, members of the Finnish Coalition Party, company representatives and, for the first time in FIMM’s history, also a group of 6-year old pre-school kids. 

“Who wants to try?” A pre-school group in front of the web-microscope.

FIMM researchers were also actively involved in organising programme for one of the science themes of the University of Helsinki’s 375 anniversary year, “Well enough”. During February, there were several events with FIMM speakers in the Think Corner. One of the main events of the theme month was the Biomedicine Goes Art Exhibition organised with the Faculty of Medicine and put together by FIMM’s Doctoral Student Susanne Hultsch. The exhibition showcasing nearly 30 surprising and visually appealing works of art was open at the Helsinki University Library (Kaisa house) for two weeks. Most of the works were images of cells and tissues, but also presented were photographs and scientific drawings and paintings. Read more about the exhibition and see the pictures here.

Susanne Hultch at the Biomedicine goes Art exhibition.

During the Meilahti Campus Day organised in March, nearly 200 high school students visited our facilities by taking part in some of the guided tours. Many others learned about the research done at FIMM by visiting our booth that was hosted by our PhD Students and Postdoctoral Researchers. This year, also a writing competition for young writers was organised as part of the Campus Day and the University’s “Well enough” theme. More than 30 entries representing both short stories and poetry were received. Mari Kaunisto was the FIMM representative of the committee selecting the winners.

Furthermore, during the year, our researchers gave numerous interviews to journalists and participated in many TV and radio broadcasts. In collaboration with other organisations, we also organised several media events. In February, we, together with the other local biobank actors, invited journalists to learn more about biobanking. After introducing four already operating or soon to be established biobanks, the journalists had a possibility to visit the Meilahti Integrated Biobank Infrastructure, in particular the DNA sample handling unit, and the automated and liquid nitrogen based sample storage systems. In August, we announced the launch of the Finnish SUPER study on psychosis, which raised a lot of media interest [internal link]. FIMM was also involved in organising three other media events in collaboration with Sitra. These events covered the personalised medicine course for medical students, results of the KardioKompassi study and the National Genome Strategy and the announcement of the research collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry. Based on our online monitoring statistics, more than 400 media hits mentioning FIMM in the international media and nearly 90 in the Finnish media were generated during the year. 

Examples of our media hits in Helsingin Sanomat, the main Finnish newspaper.

In the past few years, FIMM has focused significant effort on building a strong online presence through our website and social media channels. Our website in 2015 had an average of 7,300 visitors per month and altogether 87,915 visits and more than 250,000 page views during the year. The number of unique visitors was close to 44,000, with an 8% increase compared to 2013. Our Facebook page reached 500 likes in January, 2015, and at the time of publishing this annual report we already have nearly 800 followers. In August, we expanded our social media portfolio by joining Twitter.

FIMM website statistics for 2015.

Community Relations