Research Training

Research Training at FIMM in 2015

During 2015, FIMM’s approximately 60 doctoral students and 70 FIMMPOD members (postdoctoral and senior researchers and coordinators) were a key driving force of FIMM’s scientific research, technology development and success in local, national, and international projects. In addition, they engaged in many research training activities. The year brought a strengthening of this network at FIMM with more community-orientated activities and diverse training opportunities. Senior Researcher Gretchen Repasky coordinates research training at FIMM.

The FIMM PhD Student and Postdoc Network Thrives

FIMM PhD students and postdoctoral researchers are proactive, deepening their science, expanding their networks, and practicing transferable skills. The network is supported strongly by the FIMM PhD Student and Postdoc Council, an umbrella for various activities at FIMM and now completing its third full year. Highly motivated PhD students and postdocs are welcome to bring forward ideas for activities, courses, clubs, and more to the Council.

The FIMM “Think Different” Seminar Series, organised in 2015 by Christian Benner, Anna Cichonska, Prson Gautam, Alok Jaiswal, Poojitha Ojamies, Balaguru Ravikumar, and Sarang Talwelkar, provides a unique wholly student-organised forum for researchers working on exciting new ideas to come to FIMM once a month and encourage us to “think different”.

Professor Roman Jerala with the FIMM Think Different team in March, 2015. From left to right: Alok Jaiswal, Prson Gautam, Poojitha Ojamies, Anna Cichonska, Roman Jerala and Christian Benner.

Organised in 2015 by Laxman Yetukuri and Vishal Sinha, the FIMM Scientific Coffee Breaks are a stalwart event, gathering PhD students, postdocs and other interested researchers every other Thursday morning to talk about two research topics over coffee and cookies. The 6th Annual FIMM Poster Session, entitled “Introduce Yourself to Jaakko!” was held on 19 November 2015. Nearly 30 FIMM scientists presented their current work, sharing it with FIMM's new director Jaakko Kaprio and the rest of the FIMM staff. Alina Malyutina was announced as the overall winner of the poster competition, and she received a prize from Illumina, this year’s sponsor.

The 6th Annual FIMM Poster Session attracted a large and interested audience.

FIMM Researchers Are Educators, Too!

During 2015, numerous courses targeted towards doctoral students and often open to the entire research community were organised and taught by FIMM researchers.

Along with the University of Helsinki Doctoral Programmes in Biomedicine and Clinical Research, FIMM researchers continued organisation of the Building Bridges course series, events that are aimed to highlight team efforts among clinical and biomedical researchers working together towards a better understanding of disease biology and improved options for patient treatment and care. Andreas Scherer, FIMM Coordinator, led the team in offering the 4th Building Bridges: Biomarkers in Clinical and Translational Research, highlighting how biomarkers are used to improve our understanding of health and disease. The symposium provided an excellent opportunity to learn the basics: What are biomarkers? For what are they used? How is a biomarker discovered? In addition, advanced angles in biomarker research, such as challenges in development, meeting needs in the clinic and at the bench, consideration of legislation, ethical and regulatory matters, and how biomarkers can enable precision medicine were explored with local, national and international guests.

The fourth Building Bridges symposium highlighting biomarker discovery was organised in October, 2015.

Paralleling the panacea of research and expertise at FIMM, courses were also offered in a wide variety of areas: Data Mining in Complex Diseases (Hue-yi Shen and NIASC - The Nordic Information for Action eScience Center), DNA Repair (Sergey Kuznetsov and Daria Bulanova), Translational Research for Innovative Healthcare (Andreas Scherer, Gretchen Repasky, and EATRIS, European Infrastructure for Translational Medicine), Clinical and Molecular Pathology (Taija af Hällström), Metabolomics Workshop (Vidya Velagapudi), and FIMM-DPBM Seminars: Perspectives in Molecular Medicine and Academic Careers (Ella Karjalainen, Gretchen Repasky, Emmy Verschuren). In addition, numerous FIMM researchers volunteered their time to provide lectures and discussion sessions in other courses and symposia.

Audience of a panel discussion event organised as part of the course in personalised medicine.

In addition to doctoral and research community education, FIMM researchers are committed to undergraduate student education. During 2015, two senior researchers, Milla Kibble and Vilja Pietiänen were appointed to facilitate efforts at FIMM in undergraduate and medical student training. For example, FIMM and the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki, together with Sitra, organised a course in personalised medicine for medical students (Henkilökohtainen Lääketiede- genomiikka kansantautien riskien arvioinnissa ja hoidossa). Aiming to educate future clinicians in understanding genetic data, the course introduced today’s concept of predictive, preventive, personalised, and participatory medicine, and how genetic information can be used successfully in this approach and to how to meet patients with such data.

International and National Connections in Training Keep Us Fresh

Research training efforts at FIMM are well complemented by thriving connections with several consortia and national and international collaborators. In particular, with both the Nordic EMBL Partnership in Molecular Medicine and EU-LIFE Community FIMM shares and develops best practices in research training so that we can attract, train and develop the careers of international scientific talent. In addition, with these networks, we foster and facilitate cross-border researcher and expertise exchange.

For the FIMM-EMBL International PhD recruitment and rotational training program, we work with the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT) at the University of Helsinki and Aalto University and the Neuroscience Center (NC) at the University of Helsinki. Together, during 2015, we recruited five talented PhD students to the three institutes within the highly selective rotation program. Additionally, two PhD students were recruited from the same pool of applicants directly to research groups at FIMM and NC. Of the five rotation students, two are developing inter-institute collaborative projects as joint PhD students.

Locally, FIMM researchers and coordinators offer courses, mentor and train PhD students, and serve on thesis committees within the University of Helsinki Doctoral School in Health Sciences and affiliated Doctoral Programmes, especially those in Biomedicine, Clinical Research, Drug Research, Integrative Life Sciences, and Population Health. In addition, we work closely with the school and programmes to develop best practices in research training.

Through William Hennah’s research program and PhD student Vishal Sinha, FIMM is connected to the INSENS Marie Sklodowska Curie Initial Training Network Deciphering inter- and intracellular signalling in schizophrenia.

 Taken together, our national and international connections in research training greatly complement and extend our efforts at home.

Research Training